12/31/12

thank you 2012.

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2012.
a year that has picked up and moved on.
a year that has traveled so quickly, leaving many memories and moments.
a year that has gifted me treasures that I may always keep.

a toddler growing into herself, speaking new words
taking on new adventures.

a small boy who embraces his laughter, his love of music.

a young boy, quickly filling his personality
embracing the classroom, finding passion in math, legos and soccer.

i have watched my children blossom and grown over this year
and i couldn't be prouder of them.

a father who works and dedicates everything he has to family
who provides and loves with an ever growing heart
whose passion for life, love, music and family embodies his spirit.

and i can't forget about our bailey.
a dog who ages every year but remains like a child at heart.
who still attempts to escape, but has found comfort in our new home.
who can't seem to get enough of the park
and deep down feels blessed to live across the street from one.

we left our home and began a new one.
we discovered that the home is in our hearts
not in the brick and or in the building.

we tackled a new kitchen, we painted walls, we ripped up carpets.
we packed and unpacked.
and now, we are ready to settle down.

we learned to ride bikes without training wheels.
and when we fell we picked ourselves up
we jumped off diving boards for the first time (Jessica)
we experienced our first spelling tests (Jonas)
we had our first broken bone (Joshua's pinky toe)

2012 brought us many memories, mostly good
some we would like to forget
but it's these memories that we carry on
that we carry on into 2013
these treasures that i write and photograph
so i may never forget

the sound of jessica's laughter that starts in her belly
joshua's soft voice when he sings to himself
the sparkle in jonas' eye when he plays
the excitement in his voice when he scores a goal.

2013
i am ready to take your hand
to walk a new path
embrace new time.

i will take what you give me
with an open mind
and welcoming heart.

Happy New Year friends!
May you welcome the new year with a smiling soul and a happy heart.
Cheers

Here are some of my favorite posts from this past year:
My dancing daughter, a boy and his guitar, sharing moments with Jess, taking the kids to the bakery, our Dr. Seuss party, first ski trip with the kids, traveling to NYC with Jon, adventures in my parent's yard, Jonas' Star Wars birthday party, and of course our trip to the beach.

I also love ending the year with our Christmas card photos and our Christmas Eve (day to come soon).


12/30/12

christmas eve.

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This Christmas felt different. Different in a good way, but it was still different. Our home was silent and filled with rest while we all battled the flu. I choose not to bake, and then at the last minute whipped up a couple batches of cookies to get into the holiday spirit. Our Christmas Eve was spent in the traditional manor; Benders for lunch, church and then a small gathering at our house. Jon and I (and my sister who got suckered into helping) wrapped into the wee hours of the night until we heard the flu hit Jonas. From that point on we were up all night.

Christmas day was calm. Quite and peaceful.

We enjoyed family. We enjoy the good food. We were grateful for the gifts we received.

The holidays are my favorite time of the year. There is always a shadow of sadness that hoovers over me when the celebrating is over, yet this year I feel ready to move on. I am ready to pick up the new year and get started. I'm ready.




12/26/12

ending the year.

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Well, the flu managed to hit almost every single member of our family this holiday season. It started with Joshua and moved to Jon and I, it briefly touched Jess, then Jonas on Christmas Eve and day and moved on to grandparents, aunts and uncles. It was an interesting Christmas filled with restless nights and loads of laundry. After not eating for two days the traditional holiday meals tasted like small drops of heaven that I couldn't seem to get enough of.

These past few days have been so hectic I feel like everything is finally catching up with me. I can't even begin to explain my exhaustion. During these next days you'll find me playing house and kitchen with Jess, building legos with the boys, playing in the snow and watching movies with Jon.

I'm hoping to pop in over the weekend and share some photos from our Christmas, but if I don't make it it's okay. The new year is about putting less pressure on myself and embracing more moments with family, and there is no better time to start then today.

Cheers to the New Year!

12/24/12

slowing down this christmas.

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I can't believe Christmas Eve is upon us. How did it get here so fast this year? The month of December seems to have flown right by my eyes and I can't help but feel I missed part of it. This week was nonstop. Between Holiday parties, Jon's crazy work schedule, kid's parties, school parties, music, cub scouts and soccer I feel like my head is spinning.

To add a twist to the week Joshua missed school Thursday and Friday due to a bad case of the flu. That same flu bug hit me Saturday night while I was out finishing the shopping. It took everything in my power not to pass out or throw up at Target. I don't even know what I bought, I was literally throwing random items in the cart and booking it out of there only to sit in my car with a trash bag. When Jon got home from work that night it hit him and we were both up all night with trash cans by our bedside.

On Sunday it hit my parents and even my sister got a touch of this bug.

BUT, now it is Christmas Eve and everyone seems to be feeling better. Jon is off to work for the busiest day of the year for him (yes, Christmas Eve is the busiest day at the restaurant). The kids and I will head down for a late lunch with my family to indulge in the tradition of lobster rolls, Bloody Mary's and Tom & Jerrys. Then it's off to mass for us and home to host a small get together with family.

I didn't finish my baking this year, I didn't finish the gifts I planned on making and I haven't even started wrapping. But I've learned that it's okay. While I didn't enjoy being sick these past couple days, I did enjoy spending each moment with my children. We cuddled under covers and read, we lounged on the couch and watched Christmas movies and we made crafts and painted gifts for family.

Merry Christmas friends!
Make sure to slow down and enjoy these next couple days.
xoxo


These pictures were from last weekend when we had brunch with Santa.

12/21/12

the christmas card.

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We ran into woods and ducked under trees to take these photos.
Some fought back tears (that would be Jess and Josh)
but those tears turned into laughter
which turned into a round of silliness
which turned into a game of chase.

It's these moments that I share,
the silly, the happy and even the sad
that I always want to keep with me.
I never want to forget the sound
of the soft giggle in Josh's voice
or the belly laugh that comes out of such a small girl.
I never want to forget my Jonas
and the sense of seriousness he always carries,
and how quickly he can shake it off his shoulders
to become an eccentric seven year old.

I never want to forget.

If writing these words here
and sharing these photos can help me hold onto memories
then I will write.
I will photograph.
I will keep these memories safe.

Here are the memories from last year's Christmas card photo challenge.
I'm off to enjoy this weekend.
To spend every second with my children
to bake with them, play with them and cuddle with them.

Enjoy your weekend!

12/18/12

finding hope.

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Hope hides in many forms. It hides in the shape of a silent prayer softly whispered by a wandering soul. It hides in a child's voice, in the gentle touch of their hand. It hides in a community that gathers together, and it hides in each and every one of us.

While I can't stop thinking about the tragedy that occurred on friday, I also can't seem to write about it. I can feel what it has done to my mind, to my heart. But those feelings cannot find their way to my fingers. Those feelings are gathered tightly and bundled together and I am not sure where to place them. I want to carry this bundle and toss it away, toss it into a forest filled with evergreens and life, I want to toss it into the ocean to sail away on a sea of waves. I cannot carry this weight around, this weight that waters my eyes and clenches my chest.

When a tragedy of such greatness occurs you can't help but think "what if that were me, what if that were my school and my children." And in that thought you embrace your heart and hold it out to those who have lost. You give your heart because you simply cannot imagine such pain. Such pain is not meant to exist, yet here it is, so prevalent in our world and I can't seem to understand why.

I ask these questions with watery eyes and a clenched chest. In that moment I quietly pick myself up and put "me" together to continue on in life because we are the givers of hope.

We are the role models
the mothers and fathers
who teach our children to love
who educate them
who embrace them
who guide them down each and every road
over every mountain
through every stream and storm.

It is in our children where hope is born and in our families where it will grow.

12/14/12

today i'm with my children.

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Earlier this afternoon, while the boys were at school, Jon called me. He told me not to watch the news. Not to jump online. But it was too late.

I don't feel much for writing today, and I really don't feel like sharing my children today.

I'll share my Bailey dog, but not my children.

I'm off the hold their hands, to hug them a bit tighter today, to listen to every word they have to say. I'm off to spoil them, to give them my undivided attention. Because that is my job as a mother.

I provide
I listen
I care
I love

I hold my patience in my hands
and my children in my heart.

12/13/12

christmas card. take five

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It never fails, every year we encounter the Christmas card challenge and this year was no different. There are always tears involved, forms of bribery and one silly mom dancing around like a fool. I really hope the neighbors didn't see me, and I hope the neighbors don't mind we took the photos in their yard.

I have hundreds of photos to edit, well maybe just 252, and I hope to do that soon. I did manage to actually order the Christmas cards last night. Once I get around to the other photos I will definitely share the tears, the laughter and the running away.

You can see last year's Christmas card challenge here and this was the actual card.

Linking up with Small Style and One Little Momma today.

12/12/12

slipping time.

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Here we are in the midst of the holiday season, and once again I struggle to find balance. This is my favorite time of the year, always has been, but since having children the magic grows each and every year. I try to embrace every moment, every aspect of this season, but it can be challenging when time slips away each day.

I wrote this post last year, and I could easily sit down and write the same exact post. Word for word. Except when I talk about our schedule, throw in a couple more activities and it would be accurate. And that part of questioning myself as a parent? I still do that every single day. Did I read enough, did I spend enough one on one time, should I be working harder with Jonas on math and spelling, I should cook better meals, incorporate more veggies and so on and so on.

Do we all do this as parents? Are we always so hard on ourselves? Does that come with the job?

I'm going to spend these next few days catching up.
Cleaning my house, which I've ignored
putting away laundry
wrapping gifts
purchasing the last of the gits.

I'm going to catch up so next week I can sit back and enjoy this season.
Enjoy the sparkle of the Christmas tree
enjoy reading the Polar Express tucked under covers with flash lights in hand
enjoy baking those imperfect cookies with the kids because, really, those are the best kind.

But for now, it's deep breathes and patience.

I hope you're enjoying your week! I'm very behind on responding to emails and comments, so please have patience with me.

AND...the winner of the Boom Boom Prints giveaway is Casey! Congrats lady, keep your eyes open for an email from me ;)

12/10/12

waiting for snow.

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These photos are from a couple weeks ago when we picked out our tree. We don't have to travel far to pick out our tree, just up the street in fact. It happens that very close friends of ours own a tree farm and they bring home a selection to keep in their own yard. As we walked around and searched for the perfect tree to bring home, the snow began to slowly fall. The children ran with excitement and you could feel Christmas in the air.

The cool winter air.

Today, we are waiting for snow. The tree is up and decorated from top to bottom. Garland hangs in every room, tinsel and holly are laid upon the mantel. And our home has the subtle scent of evergreens and the soft glow of twinkling lights. Although the feeling of Christmas is never complete without our snow, I know that Christmas is in the air.

Waiting to be opened.

As I began to type this I noticed the date, December 10th. Can it be? Can it already be this close to Christmas? There are so many activities and crafts we still need to do. I still haven't quite added my finishing touches of decorating and I haven't even started to bake. I know that Christmas isn't about the hustle and bustle. It's certainly not about the gifts and it's not about getting everything done. It is about time. The time we spend with family and friends. Sometimes, I just wish we had more time.

Happy Monday!

Don't forget >> today is the LAST day to enter the Boom Boom Prints giveaway. You can enter HERE.

12/7/12

lighting up downtown. and some links.

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Last night we bundled up for our yearly trip downtown for the Lighting of Downtown. In keeping with the tradition, we began our night at Benders with a casual dinner with my parents and Jon's sister Jenny. Afterwards we walked the streets, watched the crowds and enjoyed the fireworks. While there were plenty of activities going on, we decided to head back to the restaurant to end our night with a round of hot chocolates.

I'm looking forward to the weekend. A time when I can rest, play with the kids and catch up on oh so many chores. We'll also be crafting away. We have decided to make a craft every day up until Christmas. Some days they are small, a bookmark or a colored ornament, and other days they are more elaborate. I'll share some of these projects with you soon :)

I'm hoping to list more of my pieces on my Yellow Finch Designs etsy site. I've also decided to list some great sale pieces on my instagram account. Follow shopyellowfinch for these great sales!

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And now, a few links for your weekend:

Today I'm over on my friend Amanda's blog, Making Nice in the Midwest, sharing a holiday cocktail. What better way to start off the weekend?

You can also see my first post over on Babiekins Magazine Blog here. Encourage your little ones to pick up a pen and get creative! You can even send me your submissions, I would love to read them.

Speaking of writing, I love Gina's short story about her memories as a child and those special times of trimming the tree.

My friend Marissa and her boyfriend are doing the "12 Dates of Christmas" and I am slightly jealous over here. I love this idea. Perhaps Jon and I should try the 12 dates of January, since I pretty much don't see him in December.

I am thankful for meeting new amazing women through this adventure of blogging. I'm looking forward to reading Kelle's book, Bloom, and passing it's message on to friends and family.

Andrew Lapham Fersch, who shared his book with me and I spoke about here, is printing his second book and I couldn't be happier. The artwork looks amazing and I am looking forward to reading his beautiful words unwind across the pages.

Amanda and Jayme, creators behind Miskabelle Vintage, have a great blog and etsy shop. I love the collaboration between the two. Stop by and say hello to these lovely ladies!

And lastly, some blogs I've been enjoying:

Diapers and Skinny Jeans
, Lune, Nat the Fat Rat, Abigail and the Future and this brown wren

Don't forget to enter my Boom Boom Prints giveaway for a chance to win a CUSTOM canvas print!! Enter here.

Happy Weekend Friends!


12/6/12

spirit of season.

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As a child, we always celebrated the Feast of St. Nicholas Day. I can remember the traditions that my mother started, most likely wondering if they would carry on or end with her children's youth.

I can remember the soft scent of evergreens that filled our home. Sometimes the tree was decked with lights and ornaments, and other times it sat bare in the corner. Waiting to be dressed in it's glamorous accessories and glistening lights. But the tree was always up.

As I raced around preparing for school, something that came so early on those chilly mornings, I never forgot to set out my shoe. I would search for the largest boot I could find. Sometimes it was a rain boot, sometimes a cowboy boot and as I became older, a fashionably tall boot.

As my mother would tuck me into bed and say her good-nights she always reminded me of the meaning of Christmas. I'm sure she became tired of my "ya, ya I get it's" and my "Mom, seriously, I know," but she never said a word. She tucked me in, kissed me on the forehead and said, "Perhaps St. Nick will visit our house tonight."

Last night, as I ran around preparing for school once again, I watched my children search for their shoes. They lined them up by the door in hopes that St. Nicholas would appear. As we hurried up the stairs I was whisked away to my childhood by the scent of evergreens that lingered in the air.

I softly tucked my little ones into bed and gently reminded them of the true meaning of Christmas.

For now, they are silent.
For now, they listen to my words.
For now, they wait patiently for the spirit of St. Nick to arrive.

We awoke to shoes filled with treats to carry us through our day. Small pieces of sweet candy, books to color and read, stories about believing and the spirit of the season.

In case you're not familiar with St. Nicholas:
Nicholas was born in the 3rd century in Lycia, now Turkey. He was a Roman Catholic bishop who helped the poor, sick, and children in need. He gave in secret, expecting nothing in return. After his death the legend of his gift-giving grew. St. Nicholas transformed into the legendary character called Santa Claus, who brings Christmas presents to children around the world.

You can read more about St. Nicholas here.

As a side note, I do not typically talk about religion here, but celebrating this feast day is rooted into my family's history. It is something I want to carry on in hopes of my children gifting it to their little ones.

linking up with just write.