What a Year!

>> 12.31.2012

By far, 2012 has been the wildest year of my life. So much has happened within my family, with Ada, within myself -- and you've all been here reading the highs and lows. Thank you! I can't resist a good yearly recap, so I thought I'd choose my favorite post from each month.

Here they are . . .


I'm extremely excited for 2013. I love the whole starting fresh feeling. I have some goals for this year, but I'm going to wait and dedicate a post to them. Nothing crazy, but I definitely would like to diversify my interests, spend more couple time with Stephen, and the list goes on.

Do you have any big goals this year?

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Sledding

>> 12.28.2012



For the first time (FINALLY!) since Ada was born, we got an accumulation of snow over 3 inches. As much as I dislike being cold, I love winter -- especially snowstorms. We got around 8 or 9 inches Wednesday night, so yesterday we went outdoors to play. There are a few stills on (never)homemaker -- Ada is bundled in her fleece sleeper, several layers of socks, snow pants, and a big, fluffy jacket.

She would have nothing to do with mittens.

The sled is actually her baby bathtub. I still can't tell if she liked the whole experience. She showed us a wide range of expressions, certainly trying to make sense of why it was so white outside, why she couldn't move around in all those clothes, and what she was doing sliding around in a tub.

Hopefully we'll get more snow soon so we can do this sort of thing more often. I want to build a snowman!

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Ada's Play Kitchen

>> 12.27.2012

Ada's big gift this year was a play kitchen that my dad rehabbed for her. It lives in our playroom/family room. I never thought we would have a dedicated playroom in our 1200 square foot house, but these things happen. I'm hoping to do a full house tour soon because it's wildly different than the one we have up on the blog.

Ada's napping, so I could finally get some good photos of her kitchen. It's hard to tear her away!


Stephen and I bought her some Melissa + Doug play food and she had received an Ikea pots and pans set -- as well as a few other things -- for her birthday. We've been saving random boxes, like a round brie container and half a carton of eggs, for fun.

We also have a single serving microwave pizza box. Just don't ask about that one. It was a moment of weakness.


My dad first added a divider between the two doors -- one for an oven and one for a cupboard. Then he secured a few loose pieces and sanded the whole thing down. The burner knobs were from random opened packages and the faucet is a pipe.

We're still looking for a good metal bowl for the sink basin, but we've used a plastic storage box in the meantime.

I chose the teal color because I thought it would go with our rug in that room. My mom chose the accent for the shelf and countertop. The backsplash, of course, is a leftover piece from our grownup kitchen project. Oh -- and those burners? They are actually black rubber coasters I found at Target!


I found this cute tea towel at Home Goods and asked my mom if she could turn it into an apron. And that turned into adding a tea towel bar, which was really just a leftover handle from one of the cabinets we recently tore down.

I'm sure most of the time, the kitchen will look like this . . .


But it only takes a second to pick up. Much less of an eyesore than the plastic varieties. Though, I loved the heck out of my plastic-tastic play kitchen back in the 80s.


It's still a work in progress. We have some finishing touches, like adding the last burner knob and perhaps a tap light for the oven. But it's come a long way! Just for reference, here's what this kitchen looked like when they found it at a local antique store.

In September . . .


Wow. That's what I call a transformation. Thanks so much, Grandpa + Grammie!

Pssst: More x-mas scenes this way . . .

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X-Mas Scenes

>> 12.25.2012


Our holiday has been a blast so far. A few cranky moments, but not too many. Some things from Ada's Christmas list, a few things from our Christmas lists (thanks, mom + dad!), and a whole lot of cookies. Ada's passed out for her morning nap and we're getting ready to have the family over to our house this afternoon.

Question for those of you -- like us -- without fireplaces: How does Santa get into your house on Christmas Eve? This year, Stephen had to stay up to let him in, or so the story will go.

Have a lovely day!

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happy x-mas

>> 12.23.2012


A very happy Christmas to you all. Today we're wrapping presents and drinking hot cocoa. Trying to squeeze in some long runs, too. We're drawing all over the chalkboards, watching some holiday movies (screen time rules are out the window today) and cooking up delicious treats like peanut butter frosted pancakes.

It's been a good year, and we're even more excited for what 2013 will bring. Looking forward to having you all be a part of it.

xoxo, Ashley, Stephen + Ada Mae

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Confetti Manicure

>> 12.22.2012


First off, this isn't a sponsored post. I'm just obsessed with a.) Painting my nails (even though I'm terrible at it) and b.) Essi nail polish. Especially their latest sparkle top coats -- I have both the "Stroke of Brilliance" (Blue) and "A Cut Above" (Pink) -- and gold shade "Good as Gold," which might be my favorite polish EVER.

Anyway, I didn't get the greatest photo of the end result. The "Confetti Manicure," as I'm calling it for New Year's. But if you do a coat of gold followed by pink sparkle followed by blue sparkle . . . and then another coat of pink, it's pretty, fun, and super festive.

Easy, too. I have trouble justifying a trip to the salon just to pretty my nails.

In all this holiday madness, I hope all your ladies (+ gents) are taking time for yourselves. Even if that involves some drug store indulgence. I had a good time slapping on the glittery stuff and letting Stephen take over this morning while I read Brain on Fire on our iPad.

Off to eat some more freezer fudge!

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Falling in Love with Ada: Part II

>> 12.20.2012


Do you remember when I wrote that whole post about falling in love with Ada? Well, there's now a part II. November 2011 to November 2012 was such a blur, I had trouble with my feelings and emotions related to motherhood. I think a lot of it was being so caught up in getting through cranky days, sicknesses, and sleepless nights to notice when things were good.

OK. Maybe I didn't tell you all this stuff e.x.p.l.i.c.i.t.l.y -- spell it out -- but I know you garnered it from other things I wrote. I'm that transparent with my writing. With my words.

We have (far) more good days than bad now that we crossed that imaginary finish line out of the first year. Obviously nothing actually HAPPENED on Ada's birthday to make life easier. It's a combination of those developmental milestones, a well established routine, and parents -- Ashley and Stephen -- who have learned a hell of a lot through trial and many, many errors.

Sorry, dear Ada. 
I am also first-born. 
I, too, know the drill.
And I'm sorry to say,
More are mistakes are to come.

Cut ahead. After I posted Ada's Christmas List yesterday, I remembered that I already had some crayons in our junk drawer. So, I pulled this out this afternoon and sat Ada on my lap to "draw" as much as a 13-month-old can doodle.

Then it hit me: She's sitting on my lap! Snuggling, even.

Ada has been fiercely independent regarding physical contact since she could move on her own. I longingly stare at other mothers' photos of their sleeping babies/toddlers on their chests. The minute Ada could roll over, she would have none of that cuddle business. And if you even breathe in her direction during a nap or bedtime, she will wake with such a fury -- well, let's just say Stephen and I can each make it through long tunnels without a single inhale or exhale.

But this afternoon in my lap? Totally content. For more than thirty seconds. Not squirming or screaming as she so often always used to do. Then I remembered she had done this whole snuggle thing the night before, too. We watched an episode of Curious George and she melted into my arms. And there was also that time a couple days ago when she brought me a book and moved my arm to sit in my lap.

PAY ATTENTION, ASHLEY.
THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING.

To be entirely honest, there were so many times that first year when I felt like Ada could take or leave me. But now? Now there's this whole new feeling I get from her. The relationship doesn't feel so one-sided. There's a truer, stronger connection. I actually said to myself this afternoon: "I have a . . . daughter!"

I got so incredibly excited for what's to come. What we'll see and do together. It was like my whole FUTURE life flashed before my eyes. I saw Ada grow and learn and change and I was part of it. And, though I know it was only my imagination talking, she wanted me to be. We have a whole lifetime ahead of us, my daughter and I.

I will definitely be saving those little scribbles. Not for the memory of Ada's first drawing, but for all those memories to come.

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Ada's Christmas List

>> 12.19.2012

I love all the feedback you guys gave me on the Christmas + Gifts post. It's so nice to know there are others in the world not continually choosing to perpetuate the whole consumerism-to-the-MAX thing. Or if we do have our moments, that not having the money to indulge our child's every whim isn't the end of the world or akin to some type of abuse.

What I learned from you is how we've decided to handle gifts for Ada in the years to come. Thank you! Many of you shared the idea to give her something she wants, something she needs and also something to wear, something to read.

I very excitedly shared this novel concept with my parents, and they quickly pointed out that's exactly what they did with me. I just didn't realize it at the time. Anyway, we're going with it.

Here are some Christmas gift ideas -- with the single gift we're getting Ada bolded in each list.

SOMETHING SHE WANTS:


Well, it's tricky this year. A one-year-old doesn't necessarily want anything. But if I could imagine for her, just this once, I've decided she'd love some "foods" to stock the play kitchen grandma and grandpa are giving her.


***Yes. I've bolded two things. I had already bought her both of these sets to stock the kitchen.

SOMETHING SHE NEEDS:


Again, a 1 year old doesn't really have "needs" beyond the basics. So,we're in the territory of bath time and feeding sorts of items.


SOMETHING TO WEAR:


Ada has way too many clothes in sizes until she turns 2. Like, I feel guilty because I don't think she'll wear all of them. She could use another cloth diaper because I had to toss one out (forgot about it in one of my diaper bags!). And I feel the girl can never have enough socks or leggings.

#2: Rock a Thigh Baby thigh high socks
#5: Converse Chuck Taylor w/ Velcro

SOMETHING TO READ:


I could get carried away with books, so it is hard sticking to just one. Eventually, I'd like to add all these titles to the collection. And books are now starting to include flashcards for us.

#1: Heads by Matthew Van Fleet
#4: Hippopposites by Janik Coat 

SOMETHING FROM SANTA:


We've decided that every year there will be one special gift from Santa. At least for now that's what we're thinking (I'm sure we could label some of these other gifts from him, too). This year, Santa thinks Ada enjoyed her trip to our CSA farm so much, she would also love her own little farm set.



SOMETHING TO CREATE WITH:


Instead of Santa filling Ada's stocking full of candy, though I'm sure in future years there will be lots of that, I'd like to stuff it with art supplies. It's becoming more and more clear that Ada loves art. On Yo Gabba Gabba there's this particular sequence where a guy draws a picture, and it's her favorite part. She giggles and points every time!

#4: Edible Finger Paint made w/ organic ingredients 

And would you believe it's December 19th and I still have 70% of my Christmas present shopping and DIY-ing to do? I'd better use the rest of Ada's nap to get on that.

What's Santa getting your little one(s) this year? It's a whole separate issue from the number of presents thing.

I feel like I see that Elf on the Shelf thing E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E, but we're not totally sold on the idea. I feel like it'd be getting Ada to behave for all the wrong reasons. But, then again, she's not a full-blown toddler yet. What we I know?!

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Weekend Scenes

>> 12.17.2012

Our kitchen project has taken over the house these past several weeks. Decorating hasn't been much of a priority. But then we realized it's already less than 10 days till Christmas, and -- thankfully for us -- that's plenty of time to deck the halls.

Our tree this year is a hot, sticky mess of multi-colored, multi-era stuff, including those postcards we use as decorations for Ada's birthday party.


I think we'll do this postcard decorating trick again, but with a different theme each year. I love our simple tree, and it's a great way to flesh it out. We've also discovered that the tree is a great learning tool.

A couple times a day, we take Ada on a tree tour and ask her to identify different things. She can point to the star (and will sometimes say "staahhh"). She points out the owl, which is her favorite word ("oaaawwwaahhh"). She also points out and identifies Santa ("sahhtaaa"). The kitties, of course. Also "baby" with my first Christmas ornament. She makes a RAWR sound for the lion. And "baaaah" for all the colorful balls.

Then there are times when everything we point out is an owl to her.


We have also placed several stuffed animals on the bottom branches so Ada can pull them off/put them back on without breaking something more precious or dangerous. So far, this trick has worked for us.

We found this cute winter figure at GoodWill Store on Friday. Still trying to figure out the best way to wash it, but for now, I think it's fine on the tree. Hopefully we won't be snuggled tight with bedbugs in our beds this Christmas Eve.


CHRISTMAS COOKIES. (And one Hanukkah cookie for good measure.) Not homemade, but still delicious.


Saturday we waited in a lengthy line to get Ada's photo with Santa. It's something we thought we'd skip this year, but as the photos of our friends' kids streamed into our Facebook feeds, we couldn't resist entering the madness for our own holiday shot.

After half an hour of waiting, the line was cut off one family in front of us. They said Santa needed a break, which is certainly understandable, albeit frustrating. So, they let us wait and eventually realized how ridiculous their arbitrary cutoff really was with only two families left at the end of the line.

After another 15 minutes of waiting, we got this great shot.


The quote? Well, I jokingly said to Santa: "Must be a lllooonnnggg day for you, St. Nick" (there were tons of screamers ahead of us). He leaned toward me, looked deep into my eyes, and -- in what Stephen has referred to as his "Black Lung Voice" (from too many bad kids getting coal, right?) -- said "It's been a lllooonnnggg life, darlin' . . ."

My jaw dropped. I expected some light platitudes.

Did he mean Santa's life? Or perhaps his own? Why did he have a burly southern drawl? So many unanswered questions. But that's the story of Ada's first creepy Santa experience. He looks jolly in the photo and was great with Ada, so we'll just hold onto that image.

Did you do anything festive this weekend to prepare for the upcoming holidays? Do you have your own scary Santa experience to share? I'm off to the post office to send some Christmas cards we finally finished addressing last night!

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