Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent 2012 :: He's coming


Jingle Elf is coming tonight. Woo hoo!

But lest we forget that Jesus is also coming, and isn't that the real reason for all this hoopla? The past few years I've tried hard to not only create wonderful memories for our family, but to also prepare my heart and soul during Advent. A time for preparation for Our Lord Jesus at Christmas, but ultimately for the end of time when he comes again. Whoa, heavy stuff. Hence why we insert things such as Jingle Elf to make the journey a little easier to manage. Either way God will be there along the journey, for every single step.

This year for our advent calendar I have created activities for Sean to do every day. Some are fun, some are silly, and some are sweet. Most of them focus on doing things together or doing things for other people. Here's our list in case you are in need of some ideas. This forced me to get our calendar in order, but we're flexible. If something changes I can easily switch the pieces of paper into a different bucket.

  1. Jingle elf is here! Find him.
  2. Pick out a special holiday treat with this money ($5 for holiday craft show)
  3. Decorate the Christmas tree
  4. Pick out a new Christmas book at B&N
  5. Make a card for someone and send it in the mail
  6. Recycle some toys to share with others
  7. Do a puzzle & leave it out for everyone to see
  8. Make a craft with Mom
  9. Wear something red today
  10. Have hot cocoa & cookies
  11. Wrap & bring presents for the giving tree at church
  12. Picnic Lunch under the Christmas Tree
  13. Lunch with Grammy & Grampy
  14. Bake & decorate cookies
  15. Bring a treat bag to the neighbors
  16. See the trains & Christmas lights at Botanic Gardens
  17. Make a handprint plate at Color Me Mine & visit Santa
  18. Take a drive to see Christmas lights
  19. Decorate a gingerbread house
  20. Talk about how you & Jesus were alike when you were babies.
  21. Campout under the Christmas Tree. Look at the stars just as the shepards did.
  22. Polar Express & The Nativity movie night
  23. Open one present tonight
  24. Bake a birthday cake for Jesus
  25. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lord, I give you my womb

Lord, I give you my womb.
I’ve been repeating this meditation over and over again for the past 11 days. I had to in order to let go of all the control I thought I had over the process. On 11-11-11 Jeff and I woke up before the sun, and headed east to Highland Park, IL for our very last fertility treatment. Along the way we watched the sun rise, and we couldn’t help but feel hopeful.

It takes a village to raise a child, and this particular weekend I was convinced it takes a village to conceive a child too. Sean spent the night at Grammy & Grampy’s, and then the next night at Aunt Kari’s so that I could rest. And we had tons of people praying for us.
After the procedure, our doctor came to see us. He said everything went well and now all we do is wait and pray. He understood that it doesn’t take a village to conceive a child. It takes God. We thanked him nonetheless for his care and love for us over the years, and he got teary eyed. This was the last hurrah.

Over the course of 8 years I have been poked and prodded all in the name of life. It’s been a journey. I’ve learned a lot, but mostly I’ve learned about letting go. God’s will be done. And His will is going to be infinitely better than anything I can control. Heck, I have a hard time roasting a chicken for dinner sometimes. Imagine if I was in complete control of creating a human. Yikes!
This morning I dropped Sean off at preschool, then headed to the fertility center for my blood test. The nurse told me she would have the results around 3pm. Next I went to church where conveniently they were having Eucharistic Adoration today (nothing is a coincidence!). I spent an hour in prayer and conversation with Jesus. I cried when I first knelt down. I needed to get that out – let go of the control -- and hand it over so that Jesus and the angels could carry me today.

At 2:15 the nurse called and told me it was bad news. The test was negative. I’m not pregnant. Surprisingly I was able to finish talking to her without tears breaking through. But as soon as I hung up the phone, they burst forth. I’m not pregnant. I’m never going to give birth again. The last hurrah is over.
Sean walked into the room, and said “what’s wrong momma?” I told him I was sad, and he asked why. I said, “because God hasn’t blessed us with a baby brother or sister for you yet.” He shrugged his shoulders and said, “It’s ok momma. Don’t worry. He’s working on it.”

And that, my friends, is the answer.
Our next journey is domestic adoption. This path to building our family has been in our hearts since the beginning. I’m going to continue to pray, but pretty confident this is where God is leading us.

Speaking of prayers, for the past eight years and specifically the past 11 days we’ve had the very best prayer warriors praying for us. I couldn’t help but be reminded this week of the scripture where the men lowered their sick friend through the ceiling in order to see Jesus. The man was healed because of the faith of his friends. Thank you, friends and family for all your love and prayers. We are certain we couldn’t have made it through this journey without you & your faith.
Lord, I give you my womb. Your will be done. The sun will rise again tomorrow, and we’re hopeful.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The view from here :: Fall 2011


The view from here is colorful & sunny. Through hard work and the grace of God the present is clear, sharp and fresh. The future is blurry but from the looks of it bound to be stunning.


Simplicity. It's been my mantra this year. My daily prayer. In many ways my prayer was answered. In others, not so much. It remains my focus in just about every area of my life. Faith. Family. Home. Health. Fun. We can't forget fun. I struggle with priorities, and the devil is in the details. Literally. That's when my type A personality strays away from simplicity, and loses focus. The devil is sneaky.


Many of you know that I love creativity. I love photography. Somehow at the beginning of this year I was able to prioritize and fit everything in. My Project 365, one photo a day, easily fit into my daily plans. Then Easter came, and that was thrown out the window along with a lot of other things. I'm not sure why, and I'm still praying and working on getting back into balance.

This past week Jess wrote a blog post that spoke to my heart. While she's talking about photography as a business, I think it applies to so many women these days. Especially those moms in my generation who long to be both a present mother and the desire to do X, Y or Z.

That's where I am. Me today.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

December Daily 2011: Foundation Pages

December Daily 2011 Digital Templates

I hate to interrupt your Thanksgiving preparations to talk about December. Yuck, right? Well, snap out of it! After you eat all that turkey and pumpkin pie and watch some football you'll have exactly two days before Advent begins.

Enter my annual December Daily project. It's an album project started by Ali Edwards that documents every day in the month of December. I started the project two years ago, and absolutely adore it. I do it all digital, and then print to a photobook. It's just the way I roll.

One of the keys to success is to have the base pages created in advance of December so that the project doesn't consume you, and you can actually enjoy the memories as they happen in real time! And heck, if I didn't come up with my core pages ahead of time it just wouldn't happen. I look at this step as the creative concept stage. The good news is I'm my own client, and I approve!

I spent an entire day designing the digital templates. Whew! I'll be documenting all 31 days, so all of these templates will be used at least twice changing up the paper & colors... and knowing me I'll alter and/or create new ones along the way. But this gives me a great headstart.
  • Scraplifted layouts from 12 Days Album by One Little Bird (Oscraps)
  • Frames :: Biograffiti’s Photoshoot Album (Oscraps)
  • Ornament Brushes :: Stems of Three Holiday Numbers by Michelle Martin for Designer Digitals
  • Papers :: Pierrette by Michelle Martin for :: Syage by Michelle Martin for :: Photoshoot Papers by Biograffiti (Oscraps)
  • Word Art :: Ali Edwards Holiday Words for Designer Digitals :: 12 Days Word Art by One Little Bird (Oscraps)
  • Christmas Elements :: Christmas Dreams Glitter by Mindy Terasawa for Designer Digitals

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving Countdown

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It's happened, people. Thanksgiving is less than a week away! Um, summer? Where did you go? Weren't you just here a few weeks ago? Now we're wearing jackets and cozy cable knit sweaters.

Don't get me wrong. I love fall. Absolutely adore it. The best is when you can wear a sweater with a pair of capris and flip flops. I'm a "like the best of both worlds" kind of gal. I like to have my cake and eat it too... with a cherry on top.

Anyway, I digress. This post is not supposed to be about me. It's about this little boy you see here, and that funny looking turkey he's holding. Last weekend his Grammy gave him a very cute Mickey Mouse advent calendar. And he wanted to put it up immediately. It was a struggle. Lots of whining. Crying. And a trip to the naughty step. {Sean, BTW, not me}. Once he settled down I explained that we had to celebrate Thanksgiving first before we could start counting down the days to Christmas. So he innocently asked, "well, when is Thanksgiving? Do we have a Thanksgiving calendar?"

We didn't.

But I made one lickety split! Enter some construction paper, popsicle sticks and a little red pipe cleaner for the gaggle thingamajig. Sean worked on coloring the popsicle sticks while I cut and assembled the turkey (sometimes called a chicken... Sean doesn't understand the fine differences in his poultry). Now, every day before we eat breakfast we grab the next popsicle stick, slap a little double-stick tape on it, and shove it into the turkey. Then while we're eating breakfast we count up the remaining sticks.

Guess what folks? There's not many sticks left.

If you look closely the gaggle is literally hanging on for dear life. Glue wasn't doing the trick. Yesterday I finally whipped out the stapler. It's not going anywhere now. But he looks like he's been in a mean hockey game. And further yet, we thumb-tacked him to our art center in the kitchen. The poor fellow clearly looks like he's been shot in the head. He's seen better days. Perhaps next year a pilgrim's hat will be in order and some laminating.

PS. Check out Sean's camera smile. He's such a three-going-on-four year old.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Halloween 2011


Twas the night before Halloween and all through the house, not a creature was stirring... except for JACK!


The poor creature started out as a lovely pumpkin. Large and plump with a perfect stem. He lived in the trunk of our SUV for about a week before coming into the house. At which time we promptly sliced into his pumpkin head. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was that.

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Sean couldn't really decide if he liked gutting and cleaning the pumpkin. Honestly, these pictures were about the extent of his involvement. Except of course he decided he wanted a "kinda scary" jack-o-lantern. I obliged...



The end result was worth the effort. I had so much fun carving this big guy. And even more fun snapping pictures of him in the dark. 

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Then the big day arrived. The day Sean had been talking about for a month. By noon he was ready to get into his costume, but I occupied him until two o'clock. Darth Vadar could not wait any longer.

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Come on, admit it. You're imagining the VW commercial, aren't you? We did teach him how to harness the force to turn things on. Unfortunately our Ford Excursion doesn't have remote start.


Around 3:30 the animals arrived. A little lion named Mackenzie. And a little monkey named Luke. Sean's baby cousins. They were ready to go!

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We attempted a group shot, but with three little ones under the age of 4... it was hard. Nevertheless, moment captured.


Then the big boys came, and Sean's friend Drake (a couple years older) was dressed as a Storm Trooper. Perfect compliment to the dark lord. And then all of a sudden Sean was running alongside the big boys trick or treating... leaving his baby cousins in the dust.

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They didn't seem to mind. 

Down the block Drake wanted to run off and catch up with his big brother. His mom and I stopped him briefly, but then said, "yea, you can go ahead." He hesitated, clearly thinking through his decision, then smiled and said, "no, I'd like to stay with Sean." OMG. One of the cutest things I've witnessed in a long, long time.


Then it wasn't too many houses later that Sean saw his baby cousins, and wanted to trick or treat with them. So we parted ways with Drake, and Sean played the big cousin role showing his little cousins the ropes. 

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Our neighborhood is VERY active. We had over 200 kids come to our house. Yowza! The streets were swarming with costumed characters. I love Halloween. The kids have a blast. There's no presents involved. And the chocolate. Oh, the chocolate. 

Not So Spooky Halloween Hike


My sister-in-law, Trish, runs an awesome nature club here in McHenry County called The Green Team. And we kicked off our Halloween weekend with a Not So Spooky Halloween Hike at the Pleasant Area Conservation Area in Woodstock, IL. It was a gorgeous day for a short hike, and the kids had a blast searching for hidden clues along the path. They learned all sorts of cool trivia about Halloween and guessing what the hidden clues were talking about -- a vampire bat! At the end of the hike, we gathered in the picnic shelter and learned bit more about these amazing creatures (that I never want to meet, thankyouverymuch!) and received coloring pages and treats. What a great time! Thanks Aunt Trish!

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

First Day of Preschool

The Night Before Preschool

Twas the night before preschool, and all through the house. Not a creature was stirring, not even Sean Thomas.

He snuggled up with Mickey like it was any other night. The kid really is laid back. I'd like to think he gets it from me. If I remember correctly when I went to Kindergarten I didn't even want my mom to take me. "I'm going to walk to school with Sandy & Tommy!" I always thought that was funny, but now that I'm a mom I can totally relate.


Come morning, he was ready to go. No hesitating. Let's go mom!

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My two guys walking hand in hand into the school. You would think this would make me tear up, and while my heart did swell a little the tears weren't there. Honestly? I was secretly happy that I'd get two and a half hours to myself twice a week!!


His coat hook is the #3 yellow triangle. Just in case you were wondering. I think from now on all of my things will be organized by color and shape. It makes life so much easier.

His teacher is Mrs. DeCecco, and we love her!! I recently found out her husband grew up in Cherry Hill, NJ and went to Camden Catholic where we went to high school. If any of my jersey friends are reading this, do you know the DeCecco family? She said he has younger sisters who might be my age. The name rings a bell.

Sean goes to Little Saints Preschool which is part of St. Thomas school here in Crystal Lake (our parish). The preschool is physically located at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton on the south end of town because the main school doesn't have any room for a preschool.


After I picked Sean up from his first day of school, he & I went out for a special lunch to Corner Bakery. Yummy! And he got to pick out a special treat. The monster cookie. Life really can't get any better than this.


So... if you haven't noticed I'm getting caught up on my blog stories. Mostly I want to write about these happenings in our life so that I can document them in my Project Life book. More on that in a few weeks. I'm almost caught up here on the blog. I have Halloween left, and then a few miscellaneous photos here and there that I've snapped this Fall. Stay tuned.


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