Friday, November 30, 2012

big winner(s)!

have you been waiting with baited breath to find out who wins the giveaway for the 1,000th post?

i have to say that i love, love, loved reading your favorite posts and going back to read the posts you linked back to. i loved it so much that it was kind of hard to pin it down to a favorite. so i decided to pick more than one winner!

since i couldn't choose i entered your responses into a random number generator and the winner of a box of delightful treats selected by me was...

which happens to be faithful reader ...

but don't you fret if you are not melanie!
i decided that it was so fun to read all of your responses 
it is so fun to win,
that if you commented on the 1,000th post in the comment section?
i will send you a prize in the mail!
that means there are actually 24 winners in all.
that's right, that's how excited you faithful commenters should be.
i will send you a little something to brighten your mailbox in the next month
so all YOU have to do 
if you commented
email me your mailing address!
(you have to have commented already)
contact me at susannaheloyse(at)yahoo(dot)com
and i will send you a little prezzie!
YAY for love in the mail!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

instant library

on thanksgiving eve, i threw a little book themed baby shower for matt's sister!
it was really a lovely time, but you'll have to use your imaginations since my hands were full for most of the shower and i left my camera back home in oakland. i snapped these quick pictures before the party started.

on our drive down to matt's parents (which felt like it took days of "are we almost there?" "how much longer?" "how many miles?", but really only took 7 1/2 very long hours), i cut up old kids books i got at a used bookstore into bunting and then used a mini hole puncher to put holes in the corner of each paper flag. i tried to string the bunting in the car, but that was a disaster and i got all tangled up in string with piles of paper falling everywhere.  it was an easy, relatively fast, and inexpensive way to decorate! i decorated with some more kids books & a set of vintage wooden blocks i bought at a kids consignment store. viola!
i did sneak in a couple of games - a good excuse for prizes! but for the most part we snacked on desserts and chatted and opened gifts for the baby to be. everyone brought books, so by the end of the evening baby-on-the-way had quite a collection of books from board books up to picture books. i keep thinking of other favorites i would've given. 

speaking of books, have you seen these books? 
my mom bought m this one last year~
and i just got the girls this one a few weeks ago as a special treat!
they are darling books with beautiful, detailed illustrations. the story follows siblings adele and simon as they adventure through paris, and then in the second book, throughout america. poor simon is a little absent minded and loses his belongings page after page. my girls love spotting what he has managed to leave behind, as well as hunt for tiny objects on each page.
aside from hunting and finding simon;s belongings, each page is historically accurate and portrays famous landmarks and neighborhoods. they are pretty fun to look at.

what books should i know about that i might not?
and what are your go to books to gift, or to pull off the shelf and read with your kiddos?

(if you are looking for children's christmas books i just saw this post tonight!)

ten years is worth wine and apples, y'all

ah, looking through these pictures reminds me of how relaxing our tenth anniversary trip was. this post could also be called "the one in which i posted 800 pictures for your viewing pleasure." 

i'm grateful that ten years after making vows with matt that even on our worst days i can't imagine walking this journey of life with anyone else. as i'm writing this and the pictures of the rugged coast are sharing the screen, it reminds me of how there is something about how marriage is kind of like this coast. the beauty in these beaches and cliffs and trees is that they have been shaped by the seasons, and they wear the marks of time and the elements. we've certainly weathered storms we never imagined facing, as well as soaked up the goodness of perfect days, and it's all in there. this coastline is breathtaking, but because it is rugged and imperfect; hopefully the same could be said for our relationship, that there is some beauty in our imperfections.

we said goodbye to the goodness of timber cove, and began driving along the coast before cutting inland to the anderson valley. (i am so lucky to live where i do!)

goodbye ocean, hello redwoods!
 ...and then in less than a couple hours, hello wine country!
 (loved the clouds reflecting in matt's sunglasses)

 no big deal.

we were staying that night at the philo apple farm before driving home to oakland; i'd read about it years ago in sunset magazine, and one picture was emblazoned in my mind that made me determined to stay there (all i had to do first was put 6,000 different search terms online until i miraculously found the place i'd remembered!)

it was a perfect spot & i would go again in a heartbeat. we went on lots of walks, watched the canopy of bazillion stars, drove into town and shared a milkshake and fries, sat on our little red chairs on our mini porch and soaked up the peace and quiet. (oh, and the breakfast the next morning was so, so good: warm from the oven biscuits, homemade jam, homemade bread, homemade yogurt, fresh juice...simple and amazing)

afternoon walks
and morning walks

plus we bought a lot of apples to take home!

 a bit of coffee before driving home...
 oh, and a stop at preston winery.
it's our favorite place to hang out,
if you haven't noticed from all of the visitors we take there!

an absolutely perfect mini-getaway with my person.
 happy anniversary to us!

back to these darlings in all of their glory...
oh, and one more thing~
(aren't these m&m's cute? matt's parents left them as a little surprise for us!)

{hey all of you that entered the 1,000th post giveaway! i will be announcing a winner tomorrow! so check in~ i promise you'll want to}

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

here we go again!

i've done advent calendars the last two years for the girls, and last night (since december 1st is fast approaching!) thought it was about time to get ready for this years! 

hooray for husbands and last minute babysitters, because i had company!
this is photographic evidence of our complete lack of productivity. well, i will speak for myself. historically i somehow end up dreadfully behind when it comes to working alongside these two, and last night was no exception.

i think i got three words written all night.
my smart friends saved theirs from last year and recycled them: smart and environmental. i was wasteful and tossed mine, and who am i kidding? i like making new versions every year.

i managed to get most of mine written down...
next up? stamp the pile of envelopes i have with the dates 1-24...

and figure out a cute way to hang them in our house.

here are 2011 and 2010's versions, along with the list of our advent activities! there are some great diy advent calendars online, especially on pinterest. i think it's something great to incorporate into december whether you have kids or not! (oh happy day has a list that is less kid-centric) mine are usually fast to make (you could easily knock one out in 30 minutes to an hour), and easy to schedule into your month. of course you could make it much more elaborate if you wanted!

this year i added a few, including
* write a wish list for the upcoming year (experiential, not to acquire something. for example, "i want to learn how to go both ways on the monkey bars at school" or "make chocolate cake" or "learn to read" etc)
* have a "snowball" fight with balled up socks
* go to the nutcracker (m is doing this with matt's parents)
* help us decorate the tree! (we'll see how successful this is)

i feel like our biggest advent activity every year is the living nativity we have at our house with the kids acting out all of the roles. this is our third year doing it, and it is such a special (if completely chaotic) event.

finally, i try to make sure it's a doable list- as in, tiny moments that are already either part of our schedule or can easily be integrated so it doesn't become overwhelming. (i need that so i actually follow through on it!) i've found there is so much santa focus at this age, an aspect of christmas that we try to minimize, that it is nice to build small moments of counterpoint (to the santa and gift mania) each day. it makes the month feel more intentional and experience oriented rather than present based. it also is a good lesson in what the advent season is- a time of waiting!

i'll let you see the final product once i hang it on the first. any good, experiential advent activities i could add to my list?


actually - most of the time - being a mom is awesome.
like when you walk in on your kid and she's obsessed with a book about johnny cash 
and poring over it like it's her job?

this is my kid last month:
i don't know; it makes me feel like i'm doing something right.

that and when she looks at me today and says, "mom, i' love being in this family. i love you so much mom."
gold star, daughter of mine!
(it almost makes up for her insanity at bedtime tonight as she and ruby had a two person dance party in their pajamas, toothbrushes in hand. objectively i am sure they were darling prancing and hopping around in giggly hysterics, but i was not feeling it as the clock ticked ever onward and i was ready to tap out of mommyland.)

also, somewhat related in the perks of being a mom category, i can't complain that my babies are super snugglers. nature or nurture, who knows, but these girls know how to win me over every time:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

better late than never (part 1)

you may remember that last month matt and i stole away for a couple of days to celebrate our tenth anniversary. matt loves the rugged northern california coast, so we stayed right along the water at the timber cove inn and then spent the third night at an apple farm! it was a completely peaceful, relaxing way to spend our time away from our munchkins. our time was so mellow (which is atypical for our schedule). once we got out of the car when we arrived at the inn, we didn't get back in until after we'd checked out. our two days essentially looked like this: lots of walks, reading, a massage for me (yay), naps, long meals and time around the fire pit.

our view from the fire pit (where we logged quite a bit of time):

 i loved our bright, modern room!

 and i heart sliding barn doors (see our shed, for instance)
 loved looking out the window at the water!
 and hanging out on our balcony (how crazy is that sky?)

the inn is very proud of this large totem like sculpture, so throwing it in for good measure... 
 obviously this was the spot for us:

night #2 we rocked fire pit time once again

 blurry but happy with my best friend
 loved the interior of the main lodge area!
because we stayed at the inn we also ate all of our meals there. 
i kind of had low expectations because 
a. we eat a lot of really good food
b. it was out in the middle of nowhere, so really your only dining option
c. it is an inn with a restaurant tacked on, so...
d. did i mention we eat a lot of really good food?
oh. my. goodness. the food was really, really good. i think it probably helped that my expectations were so low, but it also was just delicious and inventive food. how happy were we? very. (aside- i can't say the same for the drinks at the bar. so spoiled by husband who is such a good mixologist, but i had no problems skipping their awful mixed drinks and enjoying bubbly - one of my favorites.)
it's been a long time since matt and i got away somewhere and just hung out. it is hard to resist that feeling of "we have limited time, so we have to make the most of it!" well, at least it is for us. and for me personally, i am often trying to be as productive as possible, and so that feeling pushes in on even vacation time. i guess some of it is that i don't want to waste valuable time with matt; but as we discovered, there was something so lifegiving about just being in one spot, not doing much, and soaking up the environment around us. 

after two nights we said goodbye to the coast and headed east to the anderson valley, and our apple farm! (more on that next post...)