Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Year in Pictures 2011

We saw Disney on Ice

Annabelle had mismatch day at school

Circus time!

Annabelle made her first butter lamb
Mark and I took our first vacation alone in more than 5 years to New Orleans
Annabelle turned 5!

We stay-cationed around the city

There were many days spent at the beach

My baby started Kindergarten

We celebrated a friends birthday by getting all dressed up

Annabelle had a feast at school

We celebrated and celebrated and celebrated with family and friends. 

Happy New Year!  I'm looking forward to an even better 2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011

One Last Christmas Favorite

One of my favorite parts of Christmas presents from Mark are the gift tags.  Ever since our very first Christmas together, back in 1995, he would write cute things on the gift tags.  There was no to: Jaime, love: Mark tags.  They would say things like to: my light, love: the candle or to: the love of my life, love: Paul Gaustad (my hockey boyfriend).  Sometimes they are romantic and other times sarcastic but I have saved almost all the tags, all the ones that really meant something to me. 

This year my favorite tag said to:  I love the way you look, just as you are love: your tubby husband.

He knows how down on myself I can get, especially about how I look to myself.  That one little sentiment, that he loves all of me even after almost 17 years together is the best Christmas gift.  He still likes me just the way I am even though I weigh 25 pounds more than I did when we met, have stretch marks and cellulite.  He still loves me and I love him:)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Merry Christmas

Christmas this year was pretty much perfect.  Annabelle had just the right amount of excitement going on.  Santa and all his promise of happiness was ever present.  On Christmas Eve, her excitement was tangible.  Her smile went from ear to ear the whole day.  I had forgotten how exciting it was to anxiously await Santa's arrival. 

Then Christmas morning, she had to be woken up.  But as soon as she remembered what day it was, she was out of bed and down the stairs faster than ever before.  Her little eyes were open so wide, smile beaming.  Santa was very good to her as usual. 

By the end of the day, she was tuckered out.  Santa, plus three parties in one day was almost more than she could handle.  The next day was even better because she slept until almost 9:30, which is a rarity for her.

Santa footprints leading up to the tree.

Stocking gifts.

These are 4 foot tall paper dolls that she gets to color herself.  A huge hit!

One of her #1 gifts, the Crayola Crayon Maker.

This was from Annabelle to mom and dad.  I'm going to make it part of our wall of art in the family room.

The other favorite gift of this season, La La Loopsey!

Is it a guitar?  No it's a chainsaw!

Annabelle and her favorite big cousin, Joshua.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Santa Visits

Here are Annabelle's Santa visits through the years.  Most were very good but a few were less than stellar.

On the Christmas train ride.  2006, 6 months old.

2007 was not a good year.  It had been going just fine until we went inside the caboose.  It was cramped and dark.  My face is just awful!
 For some reason all of my Christmas pictures from 2008 are completely gone.  This makes me incredibly sad.  :(  But I do remember that she wouldn't sit on Santa's lap.  She eventually stood next to him with me right next to her.  If you looked closely you could see the tears in her eyes.
2009 was much better.  This was taken at Azerty, Mark's previous job.  They had a Children's Christmas Party every year with crafts, snacks and the president of the company dressed up as Santa.

This Santa is a little bit scary looking but Annabelle didn't seem to mind him at all.  This was at the North Pole, 2010.

And last but not least, 2011 on the Polar Express Train.
Looking at all of these pictures makes me want my baby back!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Crafty Snowmen

When I was in Kindergarten or maybe first grade, I saw some super cute, crochet, snowmen finger puppets and asked my mom to make them for me.  My mom didn't know how to crochet at the time but how could she resist my sweet little face.  So of course she taught herself how to crochet and made finger puppets for every kid in my class.

That's me in the red, 4 years old, almost 5.  Cute, huh?
So I decided that Annabelle was going to need some snowmen finger puppets this year.  I asked my mom to find the pattern for me and luckily she still had it.  And here is how they turned out.

A whole army of snowmen.

Elf on the Shelf is watching over them.

Cute, right?

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Friends

We had our annual Girl's Night In Family Christmas Party this weekend.  We do a family Secret Santa and eat lots of good food.  It is one of my new favorite Christmas traditions.  It is hard work to plan a party for 30 people.  There are 16 adults and 14 kids from ages almost 12 to almost 1.

But when I look at our kids big, smiling faces, I know without a doubt that I am the luckiest girl.  I love seeing how great our kids get along, they are all friends even with the age difference.  I can't wait to see our families growing closer together.  Someday, a long time from now, we'll take these pictures but our group will be bigger.  Our kids will marry and have kids of their own and those grandbabies will have such a huge group to love them.  I love that I know I will see these 30 wonderful faces, every year forever, no matter what.

The 14 kiddos. 

The girls, my bestest friends in the whole world.

All thirty of us!  Can you believe we got such an amazing picture with everyone looking?!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Gingerbread Village

Every year, my father-in-law would give us a gingerbread kit.  He works for a candy and cookie wholesaler, so when he gets free product, Annabelle gets a ton of sugar-y sweets.  Every year I would say we would make the gingerbread house and every year I would decide it was too messy and that Annabelle was too little to do it.

This year I decided that she was old enough to try it out.  I made sure the houses were all put together before she got home from school.  She knew the plan was to decorate her very own village once she got home.  She even told her bus driver what we were going to be doing.

At first, I was helping her out.  I was squeezing out the frosting and she put on the candies.  After just a few minutes though, Annabelle decided she could do it herself, so I let her.

She worked so hard and was immensely proud of herself afterwards.  She has been playing with these non-stop since Tuesday.  I am hoping that she will leave them alone on Saturday for our Christmas party with my out of town family.  I'll be using this as the centerpiece on the dining room table.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Joy of Only One

One child.  Most of the time I feel that people are looking at my smaller than normal family with pity or concern.  I'm often asked, by complete strangers, when I'm having another one.  They are often taken aback when I reply that I'm not having any more.  I also get annoyed when I have to pay for four of something to get the "family deal".  We just reserved a mini vacation for ourselves at Kalahari Indoor Waterpark.  The deal was for a family of four.  I don't get a discount because I won't be using those extra tickets that are included.  I think that I should.  I feel like everyone out there, even corporations, are saying that being a family of just three isn't enough.

But just the other day, I found a great reason to be happy with just one.  Christmas presents.  All of my friends and my sister have to make sure they have X number of gifts under the tree for each kid or someone will be mad.  Plus keeping a budget is that much harder and making the budget even out in the end, too hard.  I have one little peanut that I get to spoil like crazy without worrying about how much I'm spending.  There is no evening out of gifts, no fights over who gets what.

Christmas is hard enough already, especially for moms trying to make every Christmas memory perfect and magical.  At least this is one issue I thankfully will never have to deal with.  And that makes me happy:)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Over the last couple of weeks, Annabelle has been saying some of the funniest things.  I thought I would put them down so that I won't forget my girl and the things she said when she was 5.
  • She told me that she was a beagle.  I was pretty impressed.  We don't call dogs by their breed, just call them puppies.  So I asked her what a beagle was and this is what she told me.  She's brown and white with a big yellow beak.  Yeah, she meant Eagle.
  • She walked up to me and started snorting like a pig.  Except she called it snorkeling.
  • She loves to sing one of the songs fromThe Nightmare Before Christmas.  The one line is "pumpkins scream in the dead of night", except Annabelle says "pumpkins scream in the head of mice".
  • She says married treasure instead of buried treasure.
  • On Saturday she told my she was ready for a husband and that she would have a girl child named Rosabella.  I'm so glad that she has everything all worked out though she she hasn't yet decided on who will be the groom just yet.
She makes me laugh every day.  I'm seeing her grow up right before my eyes and I'm not quite ready for it yet.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Blues

Every year I get a little case of the Christmas blues.  I get teary-eyed at the more sentimental Christmas songs and remember when Christmas was perfect for me, back when I was a child. 

I have wonderful memories of my childhood Christmases.  Christmas Eve at my Aunt Kathy's house.  All of us piled into the den, fire roaring.  We'd pass out songs sheets and sing carols together while Matt and Dave played their guitars.  I looked forward to it every year.  The love, the family, all of it. 

And then one year, I saw how my family wasn't being treated as well as some of the others.  Better presents for some cousins and leftovers for my sister and me, my mom ignored by most of the people there. 

The first year that I didn't go to my aunt's house, 1999, no one noticed I was missing until it was present time.  Everyone seemed so upset that I had been given permission to spend the holiday with Mark's family that year.  They said I had no reason to skip out on my actual family, even though the reason I wasn't there was sound.  Mark's Grandma O.  was battling breast cancer.  It was very obvious that this would be her last Christmas and when she asked me to spend it with her, I knew I both needed and wanted to.  She was an exceptionally loving lady and I was blessed to know her.

After that, I stopped going to be with my father's side of the family on Christmas Eve.  I had a new family, Mark's family, even though we were still years away from getting engaged or married.  It just felt so right to be with him, but I missed my family's singing tradition.  I missed that 40 minutes or so when my family acted like a family and we all loved each other for a little bit.

My Aunt Kathy has passed away but her son is trying to get Christmas Eve going again.  I got an e-mail asking us to come.  He mentioned there would be singing.  I was so happy!  I couldn't wait to share my favorite memories with Mark and Annabelle...  but then I decided to turn Scott down.  We aren't going to go.  I realized that I wouldn't able to recapture the joy I felt as a child, now as an adult.  I realized that just the thought of having to spend a few hours with my family made me anxious, nervous.  I don't want this Christmas marred with my own apprehension.  It would ruin it for all of us.

I'm sorry that Annabelle will not ever experience the joy that I had singing with everyone all together.  I know she would love it.  But I know that we will make some new memories that will be important to us as a family.  Memories that she will tell her future husband about.  Memories that will not be clouded with sadness, only love.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The First Snow

We finally got our first snow. 

Can you tell by all the footprints that I have one very excited little girl?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Making Cookies

And thank goodness we are done!  My kitchen is a disaster but I just will not scrub it down when there will be more flour and sugar and frosting and sprinkles thrown around the room the very next day.  Baking Christmas cookies together is one of my favorite traditions.  I can remember being little and helping my parents make them every year.  Now Annabelle helps me and even with the mess, I love it.

Her first ever Christmas cookie, 2007.

Now she's old enough to help, 2009.

Such concentration, 2010.

This year, she's a pro. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Polar Express

Every year, we have tried to do something fun and memorable at Christmastime with Annabelle.  This year is no exception.  Annabelle is Christmas crazy this year.  Everything we do, she associates with Christmas, Santa, presents, snow, etc. 

For Annabelle's first Christmas, we went on a train ride.  She was only 6 months old.  Gosh she is cute!

That first train ride was disappointing to all of us adults.  It was hot, the train wasn't decorated, no carols were being played.  The only thing that made it Christmas-y was that Santa stopped in briefly to visit each child.  We had so many ideas how to make it better.

This year, we decided to try another Christmas train ride with a different train company, the Medina Railroad.  This time we did the Polar Express train.  We had such high hopes!  They would be reading the book while we rode the train.  There was a conductor to punch our tickets and a hobo and chefs to pass out almost cold hot chocolate and cookies.  And Santa, we can't forget him.  Each kid got a special bell.  No one would join in our attempts to start caroling.  We just sang a few songs by ourselves while the other train passengers started at us like we were weirdos.  Again we had ideas that could have really made the ride spectacular but the kids seemed to have a great time and in the end, it's all that matters. 

Annabelle got her face painted.

Here's our train.

Anya, Austin, and Annabelle sat with Papa.

Hot chocolate, cookies and Skittles.  The perfect combination.

The conductor punching Annabelle's ticket.  She was very reluctant to let him sit with her in the seat.

My mom bought the kids little stuffed anaimals to play with on the ride.  Austin's mouse was looking out the wondow.

I just couldn't help adding this one because she looks so darn cute.:)

My sister and the three amigoes holding up their little animals.

Telling Santa what they wanted for Christmas.

They each got a bell from Santa's sleigh.  As long as they can still hear it ring, they will always believe in Santa.

My mom and dad.
So even though my high expectations were crushed just a littl bit, the kids had a great time.  I love making memories with my family.  I love that they want to make these memories with me.