Thursday, September 29, 2011

Christmas Cards

We haven't even finalized Halloween costumes yet and I'm writing about Christmas cards? I know. I know. But, here's the thing: for the past two years, my absolute most favorite Christmas cards, of all the cards we received, have been from Tiny Prints. I can't really put my finger on it, but there's just something about Tiny Prints that makes their cards extra special. And, no lie, I can spot them without even turning them over to see the little Tiny Prints logo on the back. Here's how it goes:

Oh this card is so so beautiful.
I bet it's Tiny Prints.
(turns card over)

And so when Tiny Prints e-mailed to give me the opportunity to get 50 free cards in return for a blog post. Well, my friends, I am totally willing to pimp myself out for that!

Especially because this year...this year? I already have our Christmas card photos! This might be the year that I return to my pre-kid days of mailing my Christmas cards immediately after Thanksgiving, instead of barely-in-time-to-arrive-before Christmas. (And I'll be interested to see if this new mama friend, our first card received for two years in a row, will switch places with me!)

This summer when my sister and adorable nephew were visiting, we had the most wonderful photo shoot of the grandparents and their grandsons. Oh these photos! They are stunning! There are wonderful photos of the three boys together, wonderful photos of the boys and the grandparents, wonderful photos of each boy alone.... We've been oohing and ahhing over the photos since we got them back. (And Nathaniel truly steals the show--there are dozens of perfect photos of him!)

So I have the photos this year, but the hardest part is going to be choosing a Tiny Prints card....

I love this one -- the photos are clearly the focus of the card. I also love that it opens so there's room to jot a note on the inside...

But how cute is this? There's room to personalize the text around the photos. I think it really captures the fun and joy that is Christmas with young children.

And what about this? The great thing about this card is that when Christmas is long gone, our friends and family can cut the pictures off and have two lovely stand alone photos of the boys on their fridge.

 Decisions! Decisions! (But of the best kind!!)

As I mentioned, Tiny Prints offered me 50 free cards for a blog post, but all opinions are 100% mine!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 19, 2011

S'mores Parties

I have a fun little post up over at the brand new The DC Moms about budget-friendly, easy and delicious s'mores parties. Are you reading The DC Moms yet? You should definitely add us to your RSS feed, reader or list of regular blogs because, not only will I be writing there several times a month, there are some phenomenal women writing there every day. Seriously, they're we're an awesome crew!

But here's the deal, if you're local and take my tips for hosting your own fabulous s'mores party, you really need to include me on the invitation list!!
Oh, and Hershey's, if you're listening and want to sponsor my next s'mores party, feel free to send chocolate!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Launching cake to heaven

Lucas asks and thinks about my death quite a bit. I'm not sure why but I always try to reassure him that I plan to be around for a long, long time. Mostly these questions/comments come about in reference to something of mine that he wants. For example, he knows/believes that when Abel and I die he'll get our house "for free." (I do try to remind him that he'll have to share with Nathaniel!) He's also looking forward to getting my wedding rings "for free" after I die. (He's always desperate to wear them but he's lost/broken so many pieces of my jewelry over the years that I won't ever let him.)

The other night, after books and songs and snuggles, Lucas told me that after I die he'll make me a birthday cake every year and put it on my shrine. (Yes, he used the word shrine...where does this kid get this stuff?? Did Phineas and Ferb recently build a shrine to someone?) I told him that was very nice, but since I know he loves cake SO much, he should just go ahead and eat it. He quickly agreed... very quickly. But, he also told me that he'd save me one piece:

"I'll save one piece for you and I'll put it on a rocket ship and send it up to heaven. But I'll put a really tight lid over the plate so the cake doesn't fly away and I'll write your name, Aimee, on it so that God knows it is for you."

I can't stop thinking about this conversation for several reasons.

1. So, so sweet.
2. How quickly he agreed to eat the cake. That boy does love cake! (Maybe even more than his Mama!)
3. So smart -- he knows all about gravity.
4. That God would need to know it was for me via a name tag and that he would write "Aimee" on it instead of "Mama."

Man, I just love that kid.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rain, rain, go away!

Between Hurricane Irene and now three days of nearly constant rain, I've been spotting really cute rain boots on my daily commute to and from work. Since it now involves the Metro and a four-city-block walk to the office, I have to think about the weather more than I used to!

Jordan's Rain Boot Roundup on babble comes at the perfect time!

As much as I love admiring tall rain boots on others, I'm just not sure I'd wear them. But I'm thinking these Dansko Vail Rain Boots might be more my style. Plus, maybe I could get away with them in an inch or two of snow, too? (Hmmm...the reviews are pretty bad.)

And there's something very appealing about the classic L.L. Bean Rubber Mocs (sorry for the fuzzy picture, they've apparently made it difficult to grab images from their site.

But how fun would it be to have a pair of waterproof red or bright fuscia shoes to brighten a rainy day?

I certainly won't be buying anything today, but it's fun to think about!

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Summer of our Lives

Fab graphic available as a free postcard download at Frolic
A few weeks ago, on the Saturday night before the first day of school, after our yard emptied of the dozens of friends who had come over for an end-of-summer hot dog and s'mores roast, Lucas emphatically declared it had been the best day of his life.

Then he reconsidered as he started listing all the other best days of his life that summer.

We ended up agreeing that it had been the best summer of his life.

Ah, how that made my heart sing.

The summer, well, late winter and early spring, actually, had started out as possibly the worst time of our lives for Abel and me when his small organization closed down and he was laid off. The first few weeks were horrible. Scary. Filled with anxiety. Dread.

Not only was Abel laid off, I had been a stay-at-home mom since Nathaniel was born 19 mos ago so our weekly income suddenly = $0.

Luckily we had some savings. Luckily Abel qualified for unemployment. Luckily we also qualified for food stamps. Luckily a free lance gig came up for me.

But more than luck, we buckled down. We counted every penny. Literally every penny. It became a personal challenge--and triumph--for me to calculate our grocery bill down to the dollar. To go for days and days and days without spending a dime. We started line drying when our dryer broke. (In February. Brrrrr.) We gratefully accepted gas cards from my parents and when they visited they brought lunch or paid for dinner.

And after I was able to fall asleep instead of laying in bed fretting for hours on end. And after we were able to go a day without questioning, worrying, wondering. After we settled into our poverty. After that?

It did become the best summer ever.

We had a house. A car. Two actually. We had the most amazing, wonderful, happy children on the face of the planet. We were together. And in love.

If there is one thing I am most proud of about our little family of four, it is the abundance of love. Of hugs. Of kisses. Of never-held-back I love yous.

Summer 2011 featured no camps, no beach vacation, no amusement parks.

But it did feature lots and lots of adventures -- parks, museums, s'mores (a very cheap way to entertain friends!), the zoo (free in DC!), back yard camping, cardboard robot making -- adventures of all shapes and sizes but with one common factor: free or very, very inexpensive.

Our yard never looked better! The floor of our laundry room was visible on more than one occasion!

Because there was time. Time together. Time around the house. Time for adventures.

And nearly every day (after I stopped freaking out) I thought to myself, "This, this is the time of our lives." We were poorer than I ever hope to be again. But we were happy. Because we were together. And as hard as it was, especially at first, I think I will always look back at the summer of 2011 as the best summer of my life.

{I'm back at work (er, outside the home!) full-time and Abel's home with the kids but still looking for a job. We are doing okay on what I make + unemployment. Thank goodness for unemployment. But we are hopeful that something will come along for Abel soon. And in the meantime, he's trying to savor his time at home, especially all the time he has with Nathaniel.}

Though I didn't initially write this post with this in mind, I've decided to link up to Elena and her Be Enough 4 Cancer Campaign. Because I think this post really is about our family, our love, our togetherness just being enough.

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!