...is the process by which we create, discover, learn and grow with those we cherish most.


christmas 2010

Finally! Christmas morning - and the kids didn't know what to expect. With their one gift exchange last night - and how much they cherished the thoughtfulness of handmade, I was afraid I'd spoil their appreciation this morning with more wrapped gifts of new toys... So we shared with them that because they were so generous in giving to everyone else, the presents they see under the tree are from Mommy and Daddy - for them to play with in the new year...

xmas morning

christmas eve 2010

We didn't make plans for Christmas eve - except to bake cookies. Lots of it. I've never baked cookies before from scratch - and thought tonight would be a perfect night to get started, and start a new holiday tradition with the kids. So my family came over to help... and it turned out to be quite an extravagantly sweet evening...

baking cookies


More elving going on right before Christmas...including personalized tree ornaments filled with small buttons of candy, ice cream, princess crowns, stars, cars and trucks - all things the kids picked out from the craft store to reflect things they love this year.


the magic of christmas: is giving

Celebrating the holidays for us began with teaching our kids about our traditions - and one that I am very fond of, is giving to our loved ones - especially in the form of handmade. I still have the scarf I started knitting for Aaron 9 years ago {and yes, I plan to finish it one day...} - but to simplify and encourage the kids to make their gifts, we bought wooden projects ready for us to embellish with our own touches. Ava picked out a wooden train for Noah {his favorite toy}, and while he was napping, the 2 of us started elving in the art room...


art project: secret playhouse

It's not often that Ava asks for us to buy something she sees in a store {except for candy} so when she spotted this cardboard playhouse, Aaron and I thought it'd be a fun project we could all do together. The entire house was simply "unfolded" and then attached together by the chimney - and just like that, the little ones scurried in and out of the house with their toys.


new beginnings

Last weekend my family visited my alma mater - only this time to watch my little sister cross the stage. It had been 11 years for me since I last walked the plank in this coliseum, and nothing much has changed - everything is still very green. Only this time, my little sister was the one we were all up on our feet cheering for - rooting at the top of our lungs after her name was called, and waving the banner the children helped paint the night before.


this moment

{inspired by Soulemama}  A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Train under tree

Have a wonderful weekend!

xmas card tradition - improvised

Traditionally, I'm known to procrastinate about Christmas cards. So this year, we made a concerted effort to start early - Dec 2 to be exact - but still, I guess traditions exist for a reason - and this year, our cards will be late again! Between picking out a design (6 hours! There were just too many to choose from... you must check out this site if you haven't yet), selecting appropriate photos to match the design, writing the letter, and of course, then waiting for our order. Which took almost 2 weeks. But here they are...

Our xmas card

this moment

{inspired by Soulemama}  A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

baby dog

wintry window decor - snow"girl"

As the wintry decorations go up around the house, Ava is busy in her art room snipping away, and gluing cotton balls on everything. I was outside in the backyard today and my eyes loomed over cut branches that have missed curb side pickup the last few months. Which was a good thing, because I thought they would be perfect for hanging up some of the xmas cards that have started to stroll in.

Of course, with all these little twigs darting out, it made me think of hands... and one thing led to another - and before we knew it, we had arms for a snowman craft! I pulled the rest of the supplies from drawers around the house, and improvised as we went along...


holiday tradition : gingerbread houses

Now that we have the old white bearded man situation figured out - we're focusing on other ways to spend this month-long holiday of lights, music, and all things glittery...

This is also the only time of year when we have the urge to decorate gingerbread houses - Mom first did this with Ava last year when Ava spent the night and bonded with grandma - and she hasn't forgotten. Coincidentally, Grandma stopped by this week, and Ava had the sudden urge to do something "festive" with her - of course she picked...

Gingerbread Houses

Gingerbread Houses

a lesson in believing

After the xmas tree went up, Ava asked me very hesitantly, "is Santa real?"

My mind fluttered with speechless ideas on how this conversation could unravel. I truly believe telling our children the truth - upfront. It builds mutual respect and trust. Now, with that being said, whose to say that my belief about Santa has to be hers?

I understand the argument of instilling hope in our children, and to have faith in that if you're "good" - you will receive "gifts." This is - in summary, the public message of the holidays - it's a good one, and the economy has to thrive in this season too. But the problem with this is that the real message shouldn't be about tangibles. Children should be good right? We hold them accountable daily - From sharing, to not hitting when they get upset - to putting their clothes in the hamper without being asked... And life as it happens as a result - is the gift itself.

So at this very exact moment, while untangling xmas lights, I actually heard a man's voice in my head say, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."

reflections: another time, another place

Both Aaron and I share a love of history - for me, it's history represented by home furnishings, and for Aaron - in books. In all of these things, we seek to learn more about a distant world that was - teaching us a unique and fascinating story - leaving still - much to our imagination to inspire, sigh, wonder and respect...

We're starting to see some of these characteristics unfold in Ava and Noah - especially when we explore such places together - whether its antique stores or old towns - what they discover sparks their curiosity and gives them an appreciation for time and how things were once made. {There's an old post about some of these jaunts here, here and here}.

So... we headed south to hill country this past weekend, to Fredericksburg - a quaint Texas town lined with stores and German eateries. We've been visiting this town for the past 10 years, and each time we go, we return - inspired. The kids played and indulged in Spunky Monkey, the General Store and on ice cream of course - As did we - stumbling inside historic buildings that house pieces from the 18th and 19th centuries from France, Italy and Sweden... Oh my... the Garten -

antique horse

To put it into perspective for the kids on what "antique" means, I said, "Noah... you see this sofa? It costs just as much as a car!" Noah asked "why?" - and I answered, "because it's over 200 years old!" Waiting for a reaction on that statement, Noah says, "can I have some apple juice?" Ava chimed in, "I don't like old things."

antique sofa

This declaration was amended when we arrived at Homestead...

antique shopping

antique shopping

Homestead welcomes you to 3 stories of unexpected finds - and enough room to roam and stroll without feeling like the kids would damage anything. It had this insanely "attic" feel of someone's old house - where each thing told an epic story.

antique shopping

antique shopping

I am really surprised at myself for not going home with this piece. {sighing...}

Outside a group of young girls sold handmade gifts to raise money. I guess most kids would save for a bicycle... or a trip to Disney World... But this sign made me laugh...

saving for a pony

So instead of a wall cabinet, I bought an ornament from the girl with the pony wish - filled with twigs, a postage stamp, and feather... all tiny loved treasures! I'm not sure where I'm going to put this one yet - but it deserves a vignette of its own to be created around it... hmmm....

handmade ornament

Did I mention that it reached into the high 70s on Saturday? We stopped for ice cream on our way to Red - a fun store with a motto I love, "modern lines. vintage finds." I was almost sold on this zinc covered dining table, but its not wide enough for what I'm envisioning. And I would have taken 2 of these stools home with me if they weren't sold already...

zinc dining table

Many of the stores hosted wine tastings, so we kicked up our boots at this one, where the back patio was so inviting. I think Noah ate about 10 crackers with cheese, and Ava opened up her new puzzle and got to work.

taking a break

As the sun began to set, the weather started to finally cool down. Making this whimsical backyard feel like a page out of The Secret Garden.


antique shop patio

antique shop patio

Here's a quick shot of Main Street decorated for the holidays...

Fredericksburg - Main St

german nutcrackers

Now - due to the surprisingly hot weather we had on Saturday - the kids wondered if snow was still in the forecast. "Who knows" I shrugged, this is Texas after all... And then we woke up Sunday morning and headed to Market Square and found little mounds of snow... waiting. It's as if Ava snuck out of bed last night while we were all sleeping, looked out the window and secretly wished on a shooting star...


We didn't inform her that the snow was actually remnants of the outdoor ice skating rink around the corner - she didn't ask, and we didn't tell. For this brief moment {I say brief because it was very cold} - her joy reveling over the white fluff was just so beautiful. And so perfect. Aaron warned her not to throw any snow balls {since he didn't have a jacket} - so instead she softly patted her hand full of snow on his back {how could she resist?}


We went to the park, and by noon - we headed back home with a few new and old things - stopping at a few more antique shops along the road... 

From discovering "things" to meeting new people and having "southern" conversations - road trips are such a wonderful way to spend time together - outside of our routine element - doing routine things. The time was short - but we didn't feel compelled to rush to see this or do that. We just were - and having the backdrop of both sunshine and "snow" on both of these two days were just... well, even more spontaneously gracious.

this moment

{inspired by Soulemama}  A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

Playing with balloons

social networking = social toddler

With an array of social networking we're into these days, its a wonder how we even have time to parent isn't it? But this is what keeps us together {not to mention sane} by having good organization and the support from our community of like-minded parents and friends. 

This area in particular interests me, because it wasn't too long into the summer when I realized what's been missing in Ava's routine. And after a little bit of networking, we now have weekly play dates with amazing friends! Looking back, I'm amazed at why I waited so long - because I can clearly see how beneficial play dates are for my toddlers. Making spontaneous new friends in outdoor play areas are great - but having a consistent "friend" that they come to cherish and look forward to - is another idea in itself - that is memorable.

So if you're like me, and you've been needing a good reason to schedule a play date - here's a good one: Social Toddler. Here you can find a playgroup near you - and if not, here's your chance to organize one, and make new friends.

Some background information about the site by Rich Rotzang from Social Toddler, Inc.

"Social Toddler is a website where parents can find events, activities, playgroups, and other things to do with their kids. 

The site offers a social networking platform where parents can find playgroups or start their own. Once you join a playgroup, you can plan playdates, share photos, have discussions and meet other parents.  The site features playgroups in almost every state and Canada.

For parents looking for other things to do in their area, you can also look up local events and activities. There are literally thousands of events listed on the site.

For those that want to catch up on some reading, the site also features great articles from some well known parenting experts in the areas of Nutrition, Safety, Communication, Travel, Sleep and Career advice."

Happy playing!

little passports - japan!

Little Passports - Japan

Our package arrived from "Japan" courtesy of Little Passports - and we're having fun learning about this country so far away... Beginning with our wall map, we started off by admiring the distance of this new country to study. Of course Ava asked, "Can we go there?"

After reading the letter that came with the package from "Sam and Sophia" - Ava stamped her passport with the provided stickers and added a thumb tack to the map. Then she found this cute eraser shaped like a sushi! Very creative...

Little Passports - Japan

As a subscriber of Little Passports, we used our new luggage tag to access general information about this country on their site. But our learning didn't stop there - there's so much more - including great fun facts, photos and pictures on these sites: National Geographic, and Web-Japan!

To help the kids learn more about this new place, I tried to look for things that would resonate with what they are interested in now...

1} Mt. Fuji, Japan's tallest mountain is actually an inactive volcano, which last erupted over 300 years ago. 

2} Japan's country flag - one of Noah's favorite colors, and so easy to make! 

3} Kokeshi dolls - similar to matryoshka dolls, which Ava loves so much, they are wooden toys and an instant collection 

4} Hello Kitty - more of an icon in my generation, but she still sees this kitty's face on Happy Meals, and trips to the toy store. 

5} Japanese cars - because Noah is so good at spotting cars, I pointed out a few made in "Japan" - and particularly looking at the symbols made for a fun challenging game on the road. 

6} Dressing up as a princess is what Ava loves to do best, and this is a costume version. The idea here is that not all princesses where crowns or puffy sparkly dresses like she's use to seeing on Disney tapes. 

7} Our favorite gum. I never knew what they were called, but I could always spot them at novelty stores. Most oriental stores will carry these too. I actually chewed, and preferred, these more than Bazooka when I was a kid... 

8} Origami - We got a packaged set with this delivery, but don't let the pretty paper fool you - Some are easy to do, but even with instructions, we fumbled trying to make some planes...Here are some more online to try.

Little Passports - Japan

Little Passports - Japan

But that's ok. Noah zoomed away with his blue checkered one that I turned into a semi-plane, and Ava drew a picture on another and mailed it to her friend, who is also Japanese!

Regarding food... we've always used Panko bread crumbs for homemade chicken nuggets, but I think the kids are ready to venture out and try something new. Sushi may take awhile, but maybe some vegetable tempura? Oh... yum!

thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving this year was no different than the rest - good food and good company. Having both of our families so close, we juggled the timing and energy between having our own celebration and those with our families. It felt rushed and stuffed {as this is the only day of the year when I eat turkey - let alone twice for that matter!} And on top of that, my brother-in-law Sean baked me a pecan pie {my favorite!} Since the day was jam packed, I waddled a lot, forgetting to take photos... but here are some quick highlights -


{Ava took this one...}




Nana and cousin Adriah show Noah some of the Black Friday deals...Right before getting a bit delirious...



Then off to my parents' house, where another turkey fest was being prepared. I quickly made a batch of stuffing - using this foolproof recipe for the last 4 years.



Family-in-town joined us, including little Stella - who celebrated her first Thanksgiving with a turkey leg bone...



This year, we slept in on Black Friday {a good sign that there's nothing we "gotta have"} - and instead headed North to McKinney square, where the town hosted its 30th Dickens of a Christmas... each weekend this month, Main Street will host activities - plus this is where I absolutely love - to shop and eat - like at the swanky pizzeria called Sauce... where the cool dine...


McKinney, TX

McKinney, TX

Carousels never get old - and waiting in line for the "train" was a must - even though our noses got a bit frosty...

McKinney, TX

McKinney, TX

A real treat for the kids was the falling fake snow from the "sky"... Ava really wants it to snow again this year... so while we're waiting, we'll be dreaming and tasting the holidays...


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