December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, from our little family to yours, dear friends!

Love you all and am so thankful for you!
Heather (Mama Bird)

December 20, 2012

The Simple Things: Holiday Prep and Koala-Bear-Clings

Can you believe we're only days away from Christmas? How did that happen so quickly? In our house this week, there have been a lot of tissues for snuffly noses, cuddles for my sick boy (he has his first bad winter cold), and last-minute holiday preparations as we put the last few touches on decorations and plan out the last-minute gifts. Which most of mine are (last-minute). Every year I tell myself I'm going to be better about getting gifts as I see them through the year, or starting the process of hand-making things earlier, but alas, I'm doing a lot of week-of prep.

Last week I had my 25th birthday, so a few of my favorite things recently are overflows of my birthday. The rest of my list is just a few random things that have put me in a brighter mood and brought cheer to these mid-December days!

  • getting crafty as I work on gifts and also brainstorm fun new projects (mostly in the realm of paper-cutting, but also some handmade ornaments and simple sewing projects)
  • my awesome new brown leather boots from my mom! She spoiled me (literally) and sent me a birthday care package to pamper myself with chocolates, aloe-infused socks, a mani/pedi kit, my first Essie nail polish ('She's Pampered' haha) and peppermint foot cream. To take care of myself and then wear my awesome new boots ;) 
  • birthday cards and Christmas cards from dear friends and family
  • peppermint marshmallows and pumpkin pie Pop-Tarts. Both sound yuck but are SO YUM. Not kidding. I'm sure both are wonderful for you (ha), but sometimes it's fun to try new things. Next time I'll try to find healthier snacks to purchase when I'm hungry at the grocery store... but it's the holidays so I say, indulge a little!
  • really meaningful and thought-provoking conversations with my husband about how we want to establish holiday and birthday traditions (particularly in terms of gift-giving) in our family. Which all started last week when I was a birthday diva to my husband (a story for another day). These conversations that arose out of a sour night actually have really been one of the things I've loved most about this particular holiday season. Mostly because I like a good challenge and I can feel that the Lord is making changes in my heart about some things that I personally was holding onto way too tightly. It's really been interesting as I think about materialism, budgets, wants vs. needs, making vs. buying gifts, and why we put such an importance on gifts at this time of the year in the first place. I know the story of Jesus and the gifts that the wise men brought, but it kind of becomes 'me' focused when we spend beyond our means at this time of the year and the gifts can actually distract us from the Truth of Christmas. Not trying to challenge or shake anyone else up here, but just wanted to share with you good work that God is doing in my heart through this past week especially.
  • on a lighter note, I'm loving creating holiday playlists on Spotify (for those of you who don't know what Spotify is, it's basically a free music player where you can organize and play songs from various artists and albums, and also listen to the playlists of other users). A favorite playlist I've found- 'A Perry Como Christmas,' with the delightful sounds of Johnny Mathis, the Carpenters, and of course Perry himself. 
  • this zucchini chocolate chip muffin recipe from my favorite baking blog that I've now made a total of 3 times (and they turn out amazing every single time)
  • singing in a CHOIR! Hooray! I've joined my in-laws' church choir just for the Christmas season to sing in the cantata (which is this coming Sunday!) and it feels SO wonderful to be singing again. And I'm especially touched/excited to be singing a solo of 'Mary Did You Know,' a song that I've always loved and one that means so much more to me this year.
  • the creative burst of energy I've had these past few days while Emmett has been under the weather. He's been sick since Sunday evening, we've been to the doctors twice this week, and he's been having a really rough time breathing through his nose and has had a fever on and off. No fun at all. BUT I will mention, I kind of have loved how much he's wanted his mama (he's been clinging to me in what I call koala-bear-clings) and I've loved (for the most part) having to put down everything else just to cuddle and love on him. So the burst of creative energy has probably been a result of not being able to take him outside for walks and trying to think outside the box with how to entertain him. I wrote him a silly poem, made up new lyrics to 'Silent Night' so that I can keep singing that song to him after Christmas, have been making up stories like crazy (especially about ducks and monkeys), and have been making fun, creative plans for 2013 (to be continued!!!! Check back in January to find out what I'm working on!)
On a final note, I'll share with you the words I made up for Emmett to be sung to the tune of 'Silent Night.' And I'll share with you a few pictures from the past week of my pitiful/adorable sick child who is 25 stinkin' weeks old today (and will be 6-months old on the 27th. What?!).

Emmett Lee, I love thee
Do not fear, Mama's here
In my arms, you're safe and sound
Through your life will my life abound
Go to sleep my sweet child
Go to sleep my sweet child

Simple enough but it does the trick of helping him fall asleep. He loves 'Silent Night.' He is so my child :)

Mom, settle down. Your hair is cray.

So flexible.

Emmett-sized furniture.

Just lounging.

On the way to the doc's today
Christmas sleeps. Probably after I sang the modified Silent Night.

Love, peppermint and koala-bear hugs to you all!
Mama Bird

December 13, 2012

25 in 25 (a birthday post)

Today, I am 25 years old. I love those moments in life that are definitive vantage points. A time when you can look back to reflect and simultaneously look ahead to reorganize, re-prioritize, commit to new things and shed the old. Technically, we have a chance to do this every morning and evening (celebrate the fresh palette before us, and at the end of the day celebrate the accomplishments, blessings, lessons to learn from and look ahead to start anew once more). But I personally love the milestones that hold a little bit of a grander feeling- the graduations, moves to new places, anniversaries, New Years, and today, the celebration of a quarter of a century of my life well-lived.

As I embark on my 25th year, I decided to make a list of 25 tangible goals and dreams that I'd love to check off my greater life list. So, this year, hopefully this list will not be a barometer through which I measure the year's success (as I have a tendency to do when I set goals), but more a gentle reminder of the things I love and strive for, and hopefully I will be forgiving and have grace with myself when undoubtedly a few of these remain unchecked by next December 13th. But there's nothing wrong with dreaming :)

1. Have a piece of my writing published (online or in print).
2. Get family pictures taken.
3. Make a trip to the West Coast.
4. Take part in a musical or play (acting, directing, helping behind the scenes, etc.).
5. Bake a gourmet cake.
6. Pay down at least 50% of my school debt.
7. Write and illustrate a children's story for Emmett.
8. Run a mile (no stopping or walking!).
9. Memorize 25 psalms.
10. Cook the turkey! (Thanksgiving? Christmas? another special occasion? just for the heck of it?)
11. Have a romantic getaway weekend with my hubby.
12. Host a themed party.
13. Read 10 literary classics (that I've never read before!)
14. Eat healthy, hearty salads for one meal a day for a whole week (I hate salads so this is a good goal for me!)
15. Take a creative writing workshop (online or at a local community college?).
16. Listen to one new artist/band per week (let those suggestions start rolling in!)
17. Try eating vegan for one month.
18. Make homemade toffee, fudge, chocolate croissants, or my mom's carrot cake recipe that Claire made for our wedding.
19. Go for a picturesque hike somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
20. Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
21. Paint a mural for Emmett's nursery.
22. Go on a picnic with family and/or friends somewhere beautiful on a spring or summer day.
23. Write the thank you notes that I've been needing to write for a really long time (ah yes, I still haven't written them).
24. Take a day or weekend trip to the shore with my family and experience the ocean through a child's eyes.
25. Tell 25 people why I am grateful that they are in my life. 

Hopefully as the year goes by, I'll be able to blog about these little and big adventures, cross some things off of my list completely, and share the progress of those longer goals (like reading 10 literary classics or working on that children's story). You can always check back at the new tab above called '25 in 25' to see how things are coming along, or maybe gain some inspiration to write your own list for this year.

Love, chocolate cake, and life lists,
Mama Bird 

December 10, 2012

What happened to our child?!

Well, friends, I've hesitated to write this post for the past week or two, because I was afraid I would jinx myself.

I'm talking about our little boy and how he's getting better day by day. Seriously, it is like he's a different baby.

As I've shared with you all, we've had quite a time with Emmett and his reflux and trying to figure out how to help him through the pain and discomfort he's experienced for most of his little life thus far. About a month ago we found out that he had a cow's milk protein allergy, got him on a probiotic called Culturelle for a month, a new reflux medicine that he takes twice a day, and a formula specifically designed for babies with this allergy (Nutramagen). Well, we think it's been the miraculous combination we've been praying for! Around Thanksgiving, we started to see a little bit of a difference in him sleeping a bit longer and started to be a bit happier (in less pain!). I've been referring to that holiday weekend as the corner, and the time thereafter as the corner turned. We've seen quite the change.

My husband and I keep looking at each other (and sometimes straight at Emmett) and saying, 'Where did Emmett Lee go?' or 'What happened to our little boy?' It's that drastic of a change. When he's happy, he is so incredibly happy. He's been chirping and squealing (loud as can be but hilarious), talking, LAUGHING, and just really really happy! I don't know how else to describe it. For the first five months or so of his life we saw the tiniest glimpses of this side of him but it was probably only about 5-10% of his day (first thing in the morning and at bath time). Now, I'd say we're about 80% of the way there with seeing happy Emmett, much better sleep at night, and fewer reflux symptoms overall.

This past weekend we got a bit off schedule and he's struggling with being fussy due to tiredness, but it's so so so different than when he was fussing and screaming in pain all of the time before.

It's remarkable how much of a difference Emmett's improvements have helped to improve upon my own mood and outlook. Just getting longer stretches of sleep at night makes a great difference, but also being able to play, and laugh, and interact with my child in a really positive way has helped me to feel a lot better too. It can be draining to be around a colicky sick baby and I haven't been the most pleasant person to be around either these past few months, but I think I can honestly say I'm right there with Emmett in feeling like a new person! ;)

Here are a few fun pictures (notice he's smiling much more instead of looking SO stinking serious!) from the past week or so, around the house and at Christmas festivities! A few are from my cell phone so they're not the best quality but I wanted to share anyway.

Thank you all for your prayers for us, and especially for our little guy who is quite the trooper and is now showing his true colors as the HAPPIEST baby around (he just had to break free of all of that pain first!). Definitely keep him in your prayers that this is the real deal. I sure hope it is!

Love and so many smiles and squeals,
Mama Bird

December 1, 2012

Well, hello there December!

I have to say, this year has kind of flown by and I cannot believe it's already December 1st! It's my favorite month, as I turn another year older every December, and also anticipate the celebration of the birth of Christ throughout the Advent Season. I have a hard time being down/sad during December, as I absolutely love love love Christmas music, holiday decorations, Christmas hymns and church services, family traditions, and the prospect of a new year (I always love a fresh start).

Today we kicked off December in a lovely way. We helped Neil's grandmother Opal decorate her tree over a delicious Southern breakfast (I'm starting to love me some biscuits and sausage gravy!), went antiquing, cleaned our apartment (to prepare for decorating!), and got to spend some time 'hanging out' with our best friends up in Maine over a hilarious Skype date. I was thrilled to have a slow morning, drive around the country side with my hubby next to me and my sweet boy in the backseat sleeping, and happen upon some vintage Christmas bulbs to add to our growing collection while antiquing. I also picked up an old gingerbread cookie cutter that inspired me to get cracking on my holiday baking! Topping off the evening with a quiet night at home, while being able to see and spend time with friends we miss so dearly over the internet truly lifted my spirits and made me more thankful than ever for this past year and the support they (and so many of our other friends and family members) have given us.

Here are some pictures from this morning and our time at Opal's. I am so thankful that Neil let me play around a little bit on his Nikon. ;) The pictures of me, Emmett and 'Miss Annie' (Opal's chihuahua) were taken by Neil but the others were a few that I snapped in the morning light of this first December Saturday.

Not our best family portrait, but I really wanted one of the three of us in front of the tree before we left ;) Hopefully there will be many more to come this holiday season!

Hope your December has started off in a beautiful way, and I can't wait to see what this month brings!

Love and vintage ornaments,
Mama Bird