wordless wednesday::boys and their meat

our little guy just loves his meat.  like father like son.
 more wordless wednesday here.


christmas day

after 2 weeks of crazy 60-70 hour work week for my dear husband, we continued our annual christmas tradition of staying in and taking it slow on christmas day.

we dug into their stockings, then we finished up our jesse tree and enjoyed some homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast before opening our gifts.

gibson was pretty much spent after discovering a green ball and a matchbox truck in his stocking, but emma was certainly happy to help open the rest of his presents.

the rest of the day was spent reading to the kids from an assortment of books they received for christmas, snacking, napping and enjoying some of the new things we received.

thank you to everyone for your generous gifts!



christmas tradition: the night before christmas

originally posted on 12.24.2009


every year, aaron reads "the night before christmas" aloud on christmas eve to all of the kids.  this is a long-standing tradition which has been passed down from his side of the family.

so tonight, before the kids were "nestled all snug in their beds" we sat together listening to the story of st. nicholas' visit the night before christmas.

and now my dear friends and family, happy christmas to all and to all a good night!

christmas tradition: decorating our tree

after deciding to re-post the christmas tradition series this past month, i realized that posting the tree trimming tradition is a bit backwards. i probably should have done this one first.  ooops.  what can you do?  the one thing i failed to mention, in the original post is our fantastic beer can christmas tree that we put up every year too.  sadly, due to some lighting malfunctions, we were unable to put it up this year.  hopefully it will be restored to its full glory next year!.


the following originally posted on 12.9.2009


we haven't always had an artificial tree.  for the longest time, we insisted on having a real tree.  you really can't beat that fresh scent of pine filling your home.

i dreamed of having this yearly tradition of going out to a christmas tree farm, all bundled up with the kids, and picking out the perfect tree for us.  it worked with 1 child.  but with number 2 and number 3, driving 30-60 minutes just to get to the tree farm, nursing in the biting cold...well, it didn't sound like so much fun.  plus there are all those prickly needles that poke at little (and big) feet.  no thanks.

so we have embraced the wonderfulness of a fake christmas tree.  and what is more fake than a white tree?  (well, actually, a vintage, aluminum tree would be pretty sweet too).

anyway, decorating our tree is one of our family traditions.  as we bring up the tree, ornaments and decorations, we put on some of our favorite christmas tunes to accompany us during our tree trimming affair.

this occassion is one we make sure no one misses (not even the dog).


wordless wednesday::reflections

more wordless wednesday here.


christmas tradition: christmas cards

originally posted on 12.24.2009

one of the joys during the holiday season is that people utilize the snail mail system a lot more so than any other year.  and one of the things we look forward to is receiving christmas cards from our friends and family near and far.

now, i know this kind of goes against the "green" concept, but there's just something nostalgic about receiving cards and letters in the mail.  granted, we did cut back our list of people to receive actual cards this year, and will be sending e-cards to those we did not send tangible greeting cards to.

since we've been married, each christmas season we put up all the christmas cards we receive around an open doorway.  when it was just tyler, he used to help me put them up, and now it's emma's turn to help.  the cards are a great opportunity for the kids to learn about family members or mommy and daddy's friends who they don't see on a daily basis.  there are cousins, aunts and uncles from my side of the family that the kids have never met because everyone is spread out across the country (well, the world for that matter), and getting everyone together in one place at the same time is a nearly impossible feat. and so the photo cards have been a hit because the kids are able to connect faces with names (alternatively, we also find pictures from the computer).
aside from the christmas tree and the stockings there aren't any other christmas decorations up in our house, so the christmas cards around our doorway is a fun way to add to the christmas ambience.  thanks to everyone who sent us a christmas greeting by mail!  we appreciate it.

[and to those who didn't, we won't hold it against you :p ].


handmade holiday shopping

this weekend is the last shopping weekend before christmas.  usually it means SUPER craziness at the mall...at least i assume so but i haven't really been to one in a while so i really wouldn't know, i guess.
since "black friday," our family has had a grand time checking out the local-indie-handmade shopping events around town, and i've come to realize that there's really no reason for mall gifts when you can buy independent (well, i suppose if one were in need of a certain pair of shoes then that's not really local, but i know a local shop that sells them).  
follow along and i'll show you where we've been so far...

i think i've mentioned this before, but danielle deboe of room service relocated her store to w 25th where the larger space allowed her to accommodate not only the year-round items but items from the made in the 216 holiday shoppe.  she reopened the shop on black friday, so we decided to check it out (this was the first time in quite a while that we've ventured out to a shop on black friday).
the following weekend, cleveland handmade hosted an show at the wooltex gallery.  it was a small show, but still full of very talented artists selling their wares (including valerie mayen, who was on season 8's project runway).  one of my favorite things about shows like this, is the opportunity to develop relationships with the artists themselves...getting to know them and seeing their familiar faces at each show makes going to these events homey and comfortable.
 that same day, we also headed down the street to the artcraft holiday show...3 floors of glorious handmade items!  there was so much to see.
the following weekend after that, was the bazaar bizarre show.  this is one that i look forward to every year, and it seems that each year the west side show (which is their main one out of the 2 shows they have in cleveland) gets bigger and bigger.  this year was no exception.  we went there pretty much when they started and it. was. full.  full of great artists.  full of awesome clevelanders ready to shop.  there were definitely some tight spots...kind of tricky of you're a giant, pregnant lady.  it seems they may have outgrown that floor.  which is a good thing!  if it's still at the same location next year, i highly recommend families with babies and tots to skip the stroller and wear their wee ones.  i saw a few mamas with strollers, and they had quite the time trying to maneuver through the crowd.
and this weekend will be cleveland handmade's biggest show of the year.  the grand finale...so to speak.  the last minute market will be going on this saturday from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. featuring 80+ artists.  if you're still looking for some last minute gift items this is the place you want to stop at.  you can thank superwoman/mama kathy who has made all the fab cleveland handmade events possible.  doesn't she look like she means business?


christmas traditon: gifts and stockings

this is a re-post from 12.28.2009.  

i've been behind schedule with christmas-related gift making and other obligations that i haven't had a whole lot of time to post.  following up on our jesse tree christmas tradition, i thought i'd re-post the rest of our christmas tradition series this year.  our gift tradition remains the same though the whole santa claus thing is up in the air again this year.  why such a big deal?  i LOATHE lying to my kids, even on something like this.  if we expect them to be honest and upfront with us, then we should respect them enough to do the same for them.  anyway, we're working on finding a balance in our family between the commercialized santa idea and the real santa story...this is probably something to be saved for another post (if i ever get to it!).


 this year we felt convicted to make a change with the way we approach christmas gift giving with our children.  with the christmas holiday highly commercialized in our country (i recall the cvs by our house began selling christmas items in october...gah!), the true meaning of christmas seems to get lost in between all the presents, fancy name-brand items, and the amount of money and stuff advertisements say you have to spend on people to ensure they have the BEST christmas ever.

so this year was it.  enough procrastinating.  enough feeling guilty that our presents may not be "good" enough to give to other people.  enough feeling bad that we didn't get everyone enough stuff (even if it meant racking up more debt).  in reality, the people that truly love us will know that we love them no matter how big or small a gift we give them for christmas (contrary to what marketers will have you believe).  they aren't going to love us any less (i hope!) if our gift is comprised of hugs and kisses or a store bought item.
so our new gift tradition is three-fold.  first, each child receives only 3 gifts (with the exception of our annual pair of winter socks tradition).  one is always something he/she needs and the other 2 are either items they want, wear, read, eat, a handmade item, what have you.  why 3?  the amount symbolizes the amount of gifts Jesus received from the 3 wise men after his birth, and helps bring the whole gift-opening process back to Christ.
second, as a family we purchased a gift to donate as a way to share God's love with others and help us to re-focus on what truly matters.  this year we purchased 3 ducks through world vision, though there are many other  worthwhile local, national and international organizations out there.
third, we have decided to bring back santa claus into our house (when ty discovered the "truth" we stopped the santa tradition).  however, this time around santa is not the bearer of the "ultimate" gift(s).  he is not the guy who brings you the stuff you want on your list, per se.  he leaves behind a little something for the kids to open, but nothing extravagant (emma got a small, wooden puzzle and ty received a metal slinky and batteries) so that he doesn't detract from the purpose of the whole christmas celebration.

and now to our stockings...

our stockings are handmade and personalized by aaron's mom.
when i joined the family i received a stocking of my own, and with each new grand-baby comes a new stocking.  "upgrades" are taken into consideration if you feel your stocking is no longer a valid representation of yourself (e.g ty and aaron).
we also receive an orange in each of our stockings ever year.  this is a tradition passed down from my husband's side of the family.  long ago (i don't know how long), oranges being sold in this area during the winter were very expensive.  so you wait until they're in season.  an orange found in your stocking back in the day was a real treat, because enjoying a fresh orange was a rare occasion during the winter months.



this a re-post from 11.24.2008


after a conversation i had with my husband last night, a question has been on my mind all day: how do you teach compassion?

i read this post this morning and it brought me to tears. i know that there are many, many people around the world (even in our own country) that suffer, and my heart aches for them. but how do you teach that? how do you teach people to feel and connect with others at that level?

especially as a parent, how do we teach compassion to our children? you can teach them that it's good to help others who are in need of help. but where does the idea of "helping because it's the right thing to do" transcend into helping because your heart is sympathetic to the person's suffering?

there are people who choose to give their time and/or money to charities because it's the right thing to do. or perhaps they were made to feel guilty into giving. or because the money they give or the time they commit x number of hours a month looks good on their resume. but what do you truly gain from that? i was guilty of that especially when i began to prepare myself for college. i participated in school sponsored community service activities. helped out on my own time at the food bank. but truly, what was it for? just one more thing to check off on my college application. in all honesty, after i got into college, never once did i take the time to offer my time in the community. how does it help others in need when the only time or money you're willing to sacrifice is when it's beneficial for you? obviously, i did not fully understand the meaning of compassion (and i was technically already an adult).

so how do you teach compassion (to children and adults)? there's probably no way to truly teach compassion. i know that as parents, all we can do to teach them about compassion is by showing compassion to others. not simply giving money to this charity or that organization when it's convenient for us. but to give our money sacrificially. or to give our time in serving our community, whether it be to a charitable organization or helping a friend who is suffering. we can show our children what compassion is all about by striving to live out what it means on a daily basis.


oh baby :: holy giant ball!

i thought i "popped" at 22 weeks, but now my belly feels even more ginormous.  you can say all you want about it not looking that big...but i. feel. big.

and my midwife only reaffirmed my giant belly suspicions this past monday when she said i was measuring at 28 weeks.  that's all well and good, except i'm 27 weeks today.  that means i'm measuring about 1.5 weeks bigger than where i'm supposed to be.
"i woudn't worry about it.  you probably just have some extra fluid," my midwife tells me reassuringly.

ha!  that's what she said when i was pregnant with gibson.  but there was no extra fluid.  just a big baby (compare emma at 6 lbs 15 oz and gibson at 8 lbs 4 oz. big, wouldn't you say?).

i gained 8.8 lbs in the last month.  that's a little over 2 lbs a week.  and now i'm supposed to gain about a pound a week until the end of my pregnancy?  i don't think i'll be pushing out a 7 lb baby by march.
right on target for another big one :)


wordless wednesday::getting in the mood

checking out some of the sights and sounds downtown, bundled up in our winter coats, helps gets us in the mood for the christmas season...
more wordless wednesday here and here.


top ten tuesday

this post was meant for last week, but since we had no internet access it was delayed until today.


the mall.  i don't think i've been to one in quite some time.  and now that peak christmas shopping has begun, i have no desire whatsoever to even head out to a mall.  

i used to be a mall shopper back in my teen years, when the desire to feel like one of the crowd sometimes overtook any sense of originality.  if you've followed this blog for a while, it's obvious that my perspectives about mainstream/big box shopping has changed.  granted, i do enjoy a little target fix once in a while (hey, those diapers are a necessity when you've got an 18 month old!), but when it comes to finding gifts for others (or for me) those big box chains are not on the top of my list.

if you are local, there are many unique, independent businesses, shops, and artists around cleveland that could use your support this holiday season (if you're not local, then consider supporting the local businesses in your area).  sure, the items there may cost a bit more, but you know that more (if not all) of your money is helping support and sustain the local economy.  and you're not going to get some award for giving the most gifts, so it's not even about how much you give.  sometimes it's not about quantity, but about quality.

top ten local spots for your christmas shopping (in no particular order):

they have a new store location at 2078 w 25th street (next door to voodoo monkey tattoo shop), where both the store and the holiday shoppe will be in one building.  it's a great new space, and the shop has many things to offer.
grand re-opening & made in the 216 holiday shoppe event.
a basket perfect for little hands to get into.
go on and spread some of that holiday cheer!
 2. salty not sweet. located on 15613 waterloo road, this little boutique features many local cleveland artists.  jewelry, soaps, cards, children's items, clothing...seriously a place to check out.

3. cleveland handmade market's last minute market.
this event is scheduled for saturday, december 18 from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.  it's free admission, but early bird tickets are available for $5 with proceeds going to the hunger network of greater cleveland.  just from looking at the seller's list, this is going to be a huge show.

the east side event already happened a couple of weeks ago, but the west side event is going on this weekend.  there are A LOT of vendors and we always enjoy going each year.  admission is free, but make sure you have some cash on hand since not all vendors are capable of accepting debit/credit cards.

5. lilly's handmade chocolates.
you may have heard us rave about this place before, but i'm going to rave about it again.  the truffles are D-vine, and perhaps a must-have for any chocolate aficionado.  and though i've never tried their "hot chocolate", i think it sounds decadent and perfect for this cold, wintry season.

6. native cleveland.
a new shop located on 15813 waterloo road selling many fantastic local items (they'll be carrying c.l.e. clothing co. so you can rock that cleveland pride).  we have yet to check out this new place, but will certainly plan on it soon!

7. cleveland craft coalition holiday shoppe.
the holiday shoppe is located on 1387 sloane ave, lakewood, oh (home of river colors studio).  cleveland craft coalition has regular shows the 1st saturday of every month at bela dubby in lakewood (though they're taking a short break until the new year), and their holiday shoppe is a great extension of their monthly shows.  make sure to stop by!

8. city buddha.
this local store makes its home on 1807 coventry road and has some fun, exotic gifts.  quite honestly it reminds me of home.  many of the products there are actually made in indonesia so how can i not love this place?  and what i really, really, REALLY love there is their furniture, though i'm not certain if it's all for sale or only some of the pieces.

9. big fun.
if you're already at city buddha, why not stop by 1814 coventry road and check out this super cool toy store.  it's like walking into a giant treasure chest full of toys and memorabilia from days of yore.  if you live on the west side, you don't even have to drive to the east side to check this place out because they've got a second location at 11512 clifton blvd.  locally owned and operated, this store has been around for 20 years, and will certainly delight people of all ages.
10. go vinyl: my mind's eye records (west side) and blue arrow records (east side).
this last one goes out to my husband who is capable of spending hours upon hours at a record store.  my mind's eye records is located at 13727 madison ave in lakewood, while blue arrow records is located at 16001 waterloo rd in cleveland.  they're not affiliated but i thought i'd mention a record store for each side of town.  music snobs like my husband will certainly enjoy a spot like this...though i wouldn't recommend picking out a record for them as a gift unless they have mentioned a specific album.  better off getting a gift certificate from there or something of the like.

this is just a small compilation of many other local businesses around town that you can support. 

forget the mall!  buy local.  buy handmade. buy cleveland.
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