Saturday, December 31, 2011

Two words...

For the upcoming 2012 year.


Maybe I'm just feeling overconfident, but I think it's going to be a great year. 2011 was amazing, really. I finally wrote, edited (with help) and finished my first novel. EVER. Ever. I've been writing for as long as I can remember, but I've never been here before. I can only hope and pray that things will continue on in the new year.

I'm so so lucky to have so many people who believe in my writing. Oftentimes more than I do! It is my wish to someday be able to thank every single person who believed in me, in print! I really hope I get the opportunity!

I can't believe I wrote a book this year, I mean, really wrote a book. It's crazy! And I'm now at the halfway point of my second one, at least the rough draft. And a third is cooking up somewhere inside my brain.

2012 won't be easy. I'm sure I'll get rejected a lot. And in the end I still might not get the recognition I deserve. But I'm determined to try and to not let the fear of failure, or eventual rejection change how I feel about myself. Even if this one doesn't work out I still plan on trying again and again.

2012 might be my never know!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A few final thoughts...

Regarding Christmas...

It's Christmas Eve, hooray! Honestly, I can't help but feel a tiny bit homesick, for our families. But, I have to remind myself, this isn't forever. Hopefully someday we can be close enough to spend the holidays with our families.

There's still a lot to be said about Christmas and what it means to me. As I was driving in the car on the way to the grocery store yesterday Sophia and I were listening to my all-time favorite Christmas carol, "O Come O Come Emmanuel". I can't help but think how  meaningful the words still are today. It talks about the world longing for a Savior, begging him to come and chase away the darkness of the world. "Disperse the gloomy clouds of night." And it culminates in the appearance of our Lord and Savior, "Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel has come to thee, O Israel." I cannot hear those words, and not rejoice, and maybe tear up a little. That's what we celebrate tonight. He came.

My thoughts are a little scattered, sorry. It's pretty hard, I think, as a Christian, to explain these things, I guess.

Another random Christmas memory...when I was little, my Great Grandma, my dad's Grandma, began a tradition of sending my brothers and I McDonalds gift certificates for Christmas. Five dollars, back then that was enough for two Happy Meals. Or when we were teenagers, several large orders of french fries. She continued to send them to us, every year, without fail, probably until we were grown-ups. I don't exactly remember when it stopped. But the tradition began anew when I had Elijah. I think she waited until the Christmas he was old enough to actually eat real food. When the five dollar giftcard came in the mail for him the Christmas of 2007 I laughed. My Great Grandma passed away in the fall of 2008, at 92. She met Elijah once, when he was a little baby, at her 90th birthday party. He was her first great-great grandchild, Sophia would have been her second. That Christmas I got a card in the mail from her daughter, my Great Aunt Carol. Inside was a five dollar McDonalds giftcard and a note saying grandma had asked her to send it. I'm not going to lie, it made me cry.

And this just proves what we have always known, or should know. It's the little things. The things  that might seem insignificant and minute, that we remember. Those are the memories we cherish as we grow older. It's always been strange to me, the things we choose to hold onto or remember. You don't always get to choose your memories from your childhood, it's almost as if they chose you. I'm glad this is one that will continue, I'm thankful for the memory of my Great Grandma and the way she always remembered us at Christmas (she had at least a dozen great grandkids). I'm thankful my aunt still continues this tradition.

This year we got two giftcards in the mail, one for Elijah and one for Sophia. And of course I teared up just a little, but I also smiled and remembered...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Adding insult to injury...

As mentioned in previous posts, both here and on my family blog, we have just barely gotten back to normal around here. Normal is relative, I know, but normal-ish. And guess what? Sophia is sick! Again!

If you don't remember, I certainly do, we were all really sick just a few weeks ago. In fact, it very nearly ruined our Thanksgiving we were all so sick. I feel like it was just a few days ago that I finally quit coughing. So not fair!

So far Sophia is the only one showing any symptoms. Still, she's the last person in the family I want sick. (Besides Matthew, since he's the one with the job that pays our bills.) She doesn't handle being sick very well. What baby does? She started running a fever on Sunday afternoon. Yesterday she was feverish on and off when she wasn't sleeping. She slept nearly all day. Know what that means. Yes, you do. She was up most of the night! I think she woke up around midnight running a fever and being fussy. She sat in bed with us drinking a gallon of water and whining. Poor baby.

She seems to be doing okay now, though not fully recovered. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that no one else will get sick. I'm not feeling to hot myself, but I'm chalking that up to lack of sleep. Elijah was supposed to be still doing school this week, but that's kind of gone out the window. We might just take an early Christmas break.

Fun stuff!

Monday, December 19, 2011


So, we've survived the Fall semester. Yes, I take full credit for it too. Well, maybe partial credit. I'd been anticipating last Friday night for about two weeks now. The time when Matthew would turn in his last paper and we would all be able exhale, finally. It didn't quite work out that way. Over the weekend it took us a little while to wind down from all the stress. For Matthew, waiting for feedback on his papers was the hardest part. Me, I just wanted things back to normal as quickly as possible. Over the weekend we found plenty of holiday related things to do. We went to look at lights, we watched  Christmas movies and we baked cookies. On Sunday afternoon he got some stellar feedback and an awesome grade from one of his professors and it felt like we'd finally normalized a little bit. Whew!

I've said it before and I'll say it again, having my own kids has helped me understand my own mom so much better. Or both my parents in general. Now I know why they got crabby during certain events. It never fails, you have something fun planned for the family, one kid won't eat their dinner and the other one is mouthing off. But you're going to look at Christmas lights, we're making family memories "So everyone get in the car and SHUT UP, we're having FUN!" Ha ha. Or something like that. I don't actually tell my kids to shut up, yet. But it never fails, right?

Christmas cookies. You know the ones cut out of sugar dough, decorated with icing and sprinkles. For the past seven years or so my mom has hands down refused to make them. During the last few Christmases it was always my dad and I who took on the chore. Now  I understand. Now I'm starting to hate them too. You know why, and why my mom hated them too. I have to do all the work! And it's a total pain in the butt to. So yes, by the time they are rolled, cut, baked and cooled and everyone else comes in to "help" decorate, you're just plain crabby. And I don't even like sugar cookies. So yeah, I understand now.

Maybe someday my kids will understand why mommy was always slightly crabby while making cookies....

Friday, December 16, 2011

Roller coaster...

That's what my week has been like all week long. Up and down. Good news and bad news. It's quite annoying really.

I'm not going to share all the bad, because I don't want to talk about it. But we didn't get to go to New York last night. Everyone was pretty bummed, at least the grown-ups. Especially the one who had to work on his paper all night.

In the good column, Matthew completely aced one of his finals already. He basically got the highest grade he's ever achieved since we've been here, so that's pretty awesome.

Like I said, it's just been up and down all week. Matthew has been home working on papers most of the week, which is hard, since I've still got to do school with Elijah and keep Sophia out of his hair. That's a lot of fun, as you can imagine.

Have I mentioned I don't like roller coasters, at all? They make me nauseous, kind of like this week has. I'm so ready for it to be over and we can move into the happy Christmas countdown mode. I'd be down with that. I've already got a list planned of fun family things to do together. Number one is going to the big drive through lights display they do here every year. Oh and stop and get coffee and donuts on the way! Hopefully tomorrow night! Our church is doing Christmas Eve and Christmas day services and I'm looking forward to attending both. Not just because Sophia has so many Christmas dresses to wear! For one, since Matthew's been so busy with school, it's been a few weeks since we all sat in a service together. Also, as a Christian, Christmas is my most favorite time of year to go to church.

I've got so many presents to wrap it's getting overwhelming! But still on my fun to-do list. See almost everyone in our family finds it easier (and I can't blame them) to order presents online and mail them straight here. So almost everything is unwrapped. I've got my work cut out for me.

What else? Well, we'll be baking cookies and watching Christmas movies too. All fun stuff. If we can just get off this roller coaster week NOW please and thank you!

P.S. Matthew's last paper has to be turned in by five today, after that we're home free!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I think it's time...

to sit down and watch "White Christmas". Preferably all by myself while the kids are napping or having quiet time. Why? I don't know. It's not like I'm not feeling the Christmas spirit this year, it's just been a long week. Matthew is still in the middle of finishing up papers, and probably will be until the end of the week. I seriously have barely seen him even though we're in the same house. He aced one final already, and has another tomorrow.

We also have tickets to go to a Christmas concert in NYC tomorrow. There is a small chance that we might not get to go. Especially since he has a final from 2-4, the concert is at 5:30. It takes an hour and a half, easy to get from here to NYC by train. Best case scenario, Matthew finishes up his final in an hour. The kids and I will be waiting at the Div school parking lot to rush to the train station, hop on the first train to Grand Central. Once we arrive at Grand Central we'll hustle over to St. Thomas on 5th Avenue. Sound good? Yeah, more like crazy. Also, he has another paper due on Friday. Soooo, looks like we might be staying home. Bugger.

It will all work out in the end. Even if we don't get to go to the concert, I really want to try and do a day in NYC. We haven't been to see the tree since our first Christmas here, 2009. Elijah was three and I was pregnant! Crazy. I'm sure Sophia would love it.

White Christmas, this afternoon. The movie, not snow!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Wherein I continue to be completely...

nostalgic and overly-sappy about Christmas this year...

(title was a bit long)

Dude, we're kind of poor. Okay, maybe not kind of, officially poor. You know, the whole poor college student routine. Only we're a family of four. It's not too bad, we have the cheapest rent in the state of Connecticut, seriously. We have no car payment. We have tons of ridiculously generous family members and friends. Most of the time we manage to scrape by, occasionally we have to call in a favor.

Nine times out of ten, I don't mind. Really. Admittedly, Christmas is a hard time to be poor-ish. Obviously our kids have an amazing Christmas no matter what. They have far to many grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles to not be completely spoiled. The same goes for Matthew and I.

I'm pretty easy to buy for. I like giftcards. Did I say like? I mean I LOVE giftcards. Why? Because it's so much fun to go shopping. Lucky for me this year I got two giftcards from both my grandmas. I went shopping twice, on Friday and Sunday and totally loaded up. In the end I did end up using about a third of my money on presents for Sophia and Matthew. (Elijah's shopping is already done.)

When I got home from shopping on Sunday I decided to go ahead and give Matthew the presents I had bought him (new slippers and gloves) because he really needed them. What's really funny is that he got a giftcard last week too, and confessed to using part of it to buy me a present!

Kind of goes back to my whole "true love" post huh? Sometimes it is more fun to give than receive. Though I did enjoy spending the rest of the money on myself!

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Yesterday I mentioned on my family blog that when I was a kid our star we put on top of the tree was made from cardboard and tinfoil. It was kind of a relic from the days when my parents, like us, were having some lean years. The funny thing is, we really loved that star. I remember it had a little hole in the middle where you could punch a light through so it would shine. Years later, when we were living in Germany my mom finally got a fancy angel tree topper, so the tinfoil star was replaced. Last time I check it was still in the Christmas box a my parents house.

We have a cute little star tree topper. It was purchased, along with our little tree and box of red ball ornaments, at Walmart on our very first Christmas together in Athens. Last year it suffered a little at the hands of Elijah, but with a little help from the glue gun it was fixed. This morning Sophia was trying hard to get an ornament off the tree and ended up pulling the who tree over. We broke a few candy canes, a lot of ornaments had to be re-attached and the garland and lights had to be rearranged. Our star broke, again. I got out the trusty glue gun to attempt a repair but quickly realized it would be impossible.

No big deal, right? I mean it probably cost 7.99 or something. We could easily replace it. I emailed Matthew in a little vent of my morning frustrations and he said maybe Elijah and I could make one, like the one we had I was a kid. So, just a few minutes ago I cut out a little star from the cardboard box (from my Grandparents, no less! and helped Elijah paint it gold. I have a little glitter that I'll probably find a use for, and maybe I'll punch a hole to stick a light though.

So, it's a little ironic, don't you think? The biggest emphasis for most people during this season is to keep a spirit of giving. For me, since we have little to give, I've tried to keep and an attitude of gratefulness, for all the things that have been given to me. And to remind myself, over and over again, even it feels like I have so little, I have been given so much.

Yeah, so I have a little cardboard star now. Maybe years from now it will be sitting in the bottom of our Christmas box, long since replaced by a shiny new star or angel. And we'll remember, and tell our kids how we used to be pretty broke and made a star out of cardboard one Christmas. Because what's more important is what the star represents, at least, to us.

"Guide us to thy perfect Light"

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas memories...

I think it's pretty normal, this time of year to reflect back on a lot of my childhood Christmas memories. For whatever reason, since having kids I've become a nostalgic sap!

I guess most of my childhood Christmases were not much different than anyone else's. In my younger years we would often have one set of grandparents visiting. I remember candle lit Christmas Eve services. The special Advent book my mom would read us during school the whole month of December. I remember this really cool stuffed Nativity we had that my brothers and I liked to play with. And a cool pop-up Nativity book, which my kids now have.

From the ages of six or so, until I was twelve, my family lived overseas. So Christmas was a little bit different those years, mainly it was spent without visits from grandparents. Still, there were plenty of things about those years to make them special. For those years, Christmas came in a box. When the box from my grandparents arrived (and there were always two, one from my mom's parents, one from my dad's) we were always allowed to pick one small present to go ahead and open. That was always my favorite part, because sometimes the boxes came a whole week before Christmas! Sure, my parents bought us presents too, but it was always way more exciting to get a box in the mail from my grandparents. It was quite a chore for them too, I'm sure. All the boxes had to be shipped weeks and weeks in advance to make sure they'd make it across the ocean in time. Some years they made it on time, rarely they didn't.

Back then, especially when we lived in Germany I remember well going to the post office on base to get our mail (for some reason they didn't deliever it to our apartment). We would follow my mom excitedly down the halls of the post office lined with little mail boxes until we got to our own. It had a tiny little window you could see through and we would always be trying to get a glimpse to see if it looked like we had a pink slip (or was it a yellow slip?). A slip meant you had a package! And a package meant presents from grandparents. So then we'd go over to the package window and wait in line. Usually trying to peer over the counter when the clerk went to go get our box, hoping it would be something big! One Christmas in particular, a box from my mom's mom hadn't arrived, though we knew it was coming. Christmas Eve rolled around and it still hadn't arrived. So we went to the post office late at night, to see if it had come in on the last truck. Sure enough it had. Who needs Santa when you have grandparents, right?

It's funny now, looking back, since I know that's not the normal way to do Christmas. But for us, it was fantastic. And it just goes to prove to me that I don't have to try so hard to make Christmas perfect for my kids. It's Christmas! And they're kids, it will be perfect no matter what, at least in their eyes. Someday they'll look back on Christmases spent up here in Connecticut and maybe they'll remember the excitement of getting a box from Amazon via Mimi or Nana and how exciting that was. Who knows? And yes, we still get boxes every Christmas from both my grandparents, and I think I look forward to them just as much as the kids do!

What are some of your favorite, but maybe un-traditional Christmas memories?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Come on!

I'm feeling a little antsy today... I'm mean, I'm sure it's normal to greatly anticipate the upcoming Holiday. But really, I can't wait.

Not for the usual reasons....but mainly because I can't wait for Matthew to be done with school this semester. It's not like I've had to do all the work, because I haven't, besides trying to keep the kids out of his hair while he works on papers, rather frantically. It should all be over, or almost over this time next week, and I can't wait. Did I say that already? Sorry.

This semester has been particularly nuts for one reason, he's taking three classes as opposed the normal two, and still working part-time to pay our bills. Completely nuts. You know what's even more nuts? He wants to do it again next semester! He always has been a glutton for punishment.

There's this super-cheesy jewelry commercial airing lately, hmm ever heard of a jewelry commercial that wasn't super-cheesy? Anyway, in this particular one a husband is obviously graduating with some sort of degree. And yup, you guessed it, bought his wife a present! Of course! When I see this I look at Matthew pointedly...I'm kidding. I'm not really a jewelry person at all. But I will take one of those fancy-shmancy degrees he has hanging on the wall. Besides, he'll soon have three and I have...none. I won't even take the Yale one, I'd settle for the UGA Masters.

All this to say: I'm insanely proud of him. He's wicked smaht. And awesome and works harder than any person I've ever known. Oh and it's his birthday on Saturday!

Monday, December 5, 2011

True love...

Ha, I can't even write that without quoting "The Princess Bride"* wedding scene in my head!

Anyway, y'all know how I feel about coffee, right? As in, I would be dead without it? And coffee is never more needed or wanted than it is first thing on cold, Monday morning when I'm about to start school. Lately, our coffee pot seems to be dying a slow and painful death. But it's still plugging along, so we've yet to replace it. This morning I got up after Matthew. He'd gotten up fairly early to get a head-start on his homework and had already made his morning cup of coffee. So, I got the kids their breakfast and started to make my own coffee. Then I encounter a problem, no the coffee pot hadn't broken, no we weren't out of coffee (heaven forbid!)....we were out of filters. What? Seriously, I JUST went grocery shopping. UGH! I tore apart the pantry, literally in a panic, because I CAN NOT go with out coffee on a Monday morning!

Finally I resigned myself to the fact that there were no filters. Matthew was leaving for class in about fifteen minutes so there was no time for either of us to run to the store and back. So, no coffee, on a Monday morning. Not a good start. I'm now moping around the kitchen, about to microwave myself a cup of tea as a lame alternative when Matthew walks into the kitchen. He holds out his favorite Dead Sea Scrolls coffee mug and just says, "here". Yes, he gave me the last cup of coffee in the house! Now that, my bloggy friends, is true love! Especially since he is just as much of an addict as me and will probably have a whopping caffeine-withdrawal headache by noon! True love...

Of course, if he has time, he can go to the school refectory and get a cup, but still!

* When I was fifteen and working my first job at a schmancy little lunch restaurant my co-workers and bosses were appalled that I had never seen "The Princess Bride". Especially since they quoted from it constantly. One Friday before getting off work my boss handed me the video (yeah we still watched VHS back then) and said, "Here, bring it back when you can quote from it." And I did!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Not like riding a bike...

Many, many moons ago...okay so about four years ago to be exact, I started potty training my first born. Yes, if you do the math he was exactly eighteen months. Yes, I was pretty much insane, as most first time parents are. Also, I really had nothing better to do with my time! In my defense he was showing signs of interest quite often and had even gotten to the point where he would tell us when he needed to go. He would use hand-signs, interestingly enough, since he was still quite non-verbal at that age. Boy those were the days! Only one kid! And one that didn't speak at that!!

Now Sophia is at that same age, about a month ago she frequently started telling us "boo boo" when she was, well, you know, going boo boo. Hilarious. But, her being my second born and me being a little busier than I was when Elijah was this age, I haven't really done anything about it. It took Elijah around eight more months before he was officially potty trained, so I figured there was no big rush. Plus, I've heard a rumor, and I hope it's true, that girls are easier to train than boys. Elijah was super easy, so maybe Sophia will be...easier? Somehow I'm doubtful. Maybe because Sophia doesn't do anything you want her to. She does things her way.

Anyway, for Christmas my mom decided to buy Sophia a little pink potty. I had a feeling she'd be getting plenty of toys, in fact I KNOW she's getting plenty of toys, so I thought it was a good idea. Again, Sophia has been showing a lot of interest in the potty, even requesting to occasionally sit on the big potty, so my mom said it was okay if she went ahead and started using her Christmas present when it came. And it came, it all it's pink glory. (Does everything have to be pink when you're a girl? Why yes, yes it does!) Sophia of course was completely thrilled and sat on it right away. Fully clothed, in the living room...while watching cartoons. Why not? Yesterday we moved it into our already cramped bathroom. And here we are again, potty training? Ehh maybe not so much. But we're getting comfortable with the idea.

See, that's the problem with having kids four years apart. I think I've quite forgotten how to do all this. For the life of me I can't remember exactly how I managed potty training success before. And of course, there's always the proverbial problem of every child being completely different. I happen to know for a fact that my two kids couldn't be more opposite if they tried.

Where does that leave me? Clueless. And completely winging it. Kind of like I did the first time, and that turned out alright, didn't it?

(Oh and she did go "boo boo" on the potty today, and was quite nonplussed by the whole thing.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I think he's got it...

Last night before bed I read the kids "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". Elijah's heard the book many times, Sophia, probably not at all. When we got to the end, when the Whos all go out and sing despite the fact that they had no presents or "Who feast" I took the opportunity (like any good parent) to point out that Christmas is not about presents. I went on to point out that it's about spending time with your family and before I could elaborate any further Elijah pipes up with, "And it's about celebrating the birth of baby Jesus!" Ha, who doesn't love being put in their place by their five year old? And he's right, of course, as Christians that is the number one reason why we celebrate Christmas. It was just really cute coming from him, in that moment. It's always good to realize that your child actually gets it sometimes, you know?

This time of year there is a lot of emphasis on the word "believe". At the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade that was their tagline. Of course, they mean believe in the magic of Christmas, in Santa. We don't particularly "do" Santa around here. And for a moment or two I kind of felt bad, was I letting my kids miss out on what can be a really cool tradition of believing in something magical like Santa? For me, the answer is no, since we are teaching him to believe. Not in the magic, but in the miracle of Jesus' birth. When I brought this up to Matthew he also pointed out, that Jesus was something our kids could believe in their whole life, too, not just at Christmas, not just as innocent children, but forever.

"And they will call him Emmanuel, which means "God with us"" Matthew 1:23