a very merry christmas, and a happy new year

{Our 2013 Christmas card, taken in 10 degree weather. We only got about 8 or 9 shots before giving up and sprinting  back to the warm car. So cold!}

We're still stuck in Christmas land over here, since the last of our Christmas celebrations is still coming up later this week. I'm okay with it, because it all came and went too fast for my liking anyway. One last hurrah at home with my family sounds just about perfect. I hope you and yours had a very merry celebration of Jesus' birth. And lots of cookies.

And now for just a handful of my favorite instagram photos taken over the year. As silly and unimportant as technology and smart phones and social media can be in the grand scheme of things, I sure am thankful for it all. Without any of it, I wouldn't have all these snippets of 2013 right at my fingertips. I have been given such a wonderful, happy life, and I'm glad that, thanks to blogs and instagram and my trusty iphone, I've remembered to stop and snap a picture of the best and most beautiful parts of the year. Memory making! I want more if it in 2014.
Dad's home! #smooosh
There they are!
Birthday flowers from the boys.
More swings, more drool, and a new post on the blog.
There's a new post on my blog featuring a nine month old Ralph and his hair swirl.Picked a peck of apples.
You see pretty yellow leaves, he sees a giant salad. #stoptryingtoeatleavesralphBaby swim shorts arrived in the mail today. (And I'm dying over them.)
Today is heaven.There she is.
A tiny bouquet of chamomile, sage, and lamb's ear, meant for a new momma and her sweet baby boy.Ryan is home! I hate when he leaves.
This upcoming year is the first in a while that is a completely open book, which is both unsettling and exciting for me. The past few years have been full of the big stuff-- graduating, getting married, buying a house, having a baby, and then raising that baby through the first year of his little life. I feel like this new year is waiting for Ryan and I to accomplish the little goals and dreams we've been keeping tucked away in our back pockets. We, thankfully, have everything we could ever want and need. 2014 is for all the cherries on  top. I'm so excited, and so grateful.

Now, let's start dreaming.



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Ralph's first romp in the snow was one of those parental experiences where you expect it to be completely magical and exciting for the child, but instead it's kind of a flop.

After being wrestled into puffy, waterproof clothing so thick he couldn't move, then shoved into a sled and getting dragged around in it with an icy wind whipping at your face, I guess I can't blame Ralph for not loving it. He tried so hard to have a good time, but he kept looking up at us with a face that said, "I'm so cold."

We were out there for maybe 10 minutes. It was only sort of fun while it lasted.

But he did love the candy cane we gave him when we got back inside, and watching the dog next door bark at snowflakes (from the comfort of our living room window) was a total hit. You win some, you lose some. At least the pictures turned out.

Maybe next time, Ralphie baby.


what the weekend of Dec 13-15 looked like in pictures.

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I don't know if there's anything cozier than going to bed on a Friday night with the promise of waking up to snow the next morning. Not stuck-in-the-house-all-weekend snow, and not just a dusting, but the kind where the driving around for Saturday errands is winter-white, you can bust out the sled, and shoveling isn't so bad as long as you have a hot bowl of soup waiting on the table when you come inside. 

These days I'm feeling really thankful for all the cozy weekends I've been having with my little family.  The last few days here have been filled with long johns and scarves, a warm kitchen, a hot oven (filled with cookies all day long,) sewing and buying and wrapping gifts, spontaneous dance parties with a baby who just figured out how to dance with his arms and his feet at the same time, and falling asleep on the couch every night, thanks to pure merry Christmastime exhaustion. So far December is sure making up for the dreadful November we had. Thank goodness.

This one's for you, Biz.

{This is the year I'm introducing you to my sisters, one at a time, on their birthday. Lizette's birthday was over the weekend, and so, here you go. You can see Liesl's post here, and Gretel's here.}

Lizette is my second oldest sister. We are 6 years apart, and the one who gets mistaken for my twin the most often. She lives just a few blocks from me with her kind husband Jason, and their kids Henry, Oliver, and Livia. We see each other so often, her boys sometimes call me mom. I love it so much.

Liz is cute and quiet and sweet. She has a big, beautiful smile and pretty legs. She likes decorating and cooking and gardening and, in general, making Martha Stewart scared for her job. She is the one tomboy out of the sisterhood-- tough and strong and brave. We joke that she is our parents' favorite daughter, not because she is (I don't think?) but because she is good at everything she does. This year alone, Lizette wrote a book, grew a baby, took care of her family, and kept a blog, all while having a spotless house, looking pretty, and having a meal on the table for her hungry boys every night. She can do everything, happily and effortlessly. 

When I was in 1st or 2nd grade, Lizette had a love affair with The Beatles. She bought all their cds, filled her room with posters of them, and played their music day and night. I grew up thinking that every child listened to Abbey Road while they played Barbies. I know every word to every song. I think of being young and happy and small every time I hear them, thanks to Liz.

One of the last times I went home to my parents' house, someone started playing a bunch of old home movies. There was one in particular that I loved-- it was morning and I was being the annoying youngest sister, shakily videotaping my sister Liesl while she was still in her bed, half-asleep. Liesl was tired and telling me to stop, and of course, I didn't. And then there was a quick shot of Lizette, on the bed next to Liesl, stroking her hair and whispering in her ear, comforting her. She has always been so patient and tender and loving. The little mother. I love that about her.

So, happy birthday, sister Liz. You're wonderful!


in which i skip the month of november and go right to december.

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I skipped the entire month of November, according to my blog. Not on purpose, it's just how things happened. I certainly didn't skip it in real life. November was full of busy days, lots of babies, lots of sicknesses, lots of doctor visits, lots of sleepless nights. I rounded out the last week or so with a bout of pneumonia, just in time for our 3rd anniversary and Thanksgiving. Any sort of blog post I tried to write was boring and sleepy and depressing, and full of fun facts about pneumonia symptoms, like coughing up entire chunks of my lungs. At least that's what it felt like.

I also skipped Halloween, so if you're curious, we dressed Ralph up as a lumberjack/hobo. 

We also welcomed a new niece (baby Livia Eveline, the most delicate girl and the spitting image of her mother ((I love her so much)) ) and have already sampled (devoured. inhaled!) all of Trader Joes' chocolate-peppermint flavored products. 

Which brings us to December.

We've got the tree up and the garlands hung and the cinnamon candles burning every night. We've watched Christmas Vacation twice. We are ready for any and all festivities that Christmas may bring. This Christmas is already feeling so much more magical than any other year since I've been a grown up, and I am positive it is because of our dear old Ralphie. He's taking it all in with such wonder. The tree is enough to send him into a frenzy. Those lights are just so shiny and bright and tasty looking! We put the tree up one night while he was in bed-- she was a beaut for 8 straight hours-- and then realized we had to move everything up about 3 feet if we wanted it to survive Ralph's grabby hands till the 25th. Every now and then I'll put a few ornaments where he can reach them. He'll pluck them off, one by one, taste each for good measure, and then carefully (crookedly) stuff them back on a branch with a look of pride on his face. He's such a sweet little joy these days. And a stinker too, which is why I like him.

So anyway, all this to say, I'm back in the blogging mood. And you're about to get hit with some major Christmas cheer from Milwaukee.