Season’s Greetings

Now that Halloween is behind us it’s time for the rapid decent into the end-of-year holidays and one of my favorite traditions – the holiday card.

I LOVE holiday cards and look forward to them each year. I love picking photos, searching out the best designs and writing greetings. I also am like a kid in the candy store when it comes to receiving cards. I can’t wait to get to the mailbox each day and I have a huge stack of cards from previous years stashed away with our holiday decorations. If it has a photo I’m keeping it and I’ll pull it out each year and admire it.

I blame my parents for this. They do the dreaded “Christmas Letter” every year (and every year I’m surprised to see what they think my work title is – it changes annually and is never correct). But they also keep all the letters they receive and each year when we are celebrating Christmas at their house both my sister and I pour over the letters and photos. I marvel over old neighbors for whom I babysat – their kids now graduating from college. Or getting a once-a-year update from second or third cousins. I love this tradition.

With a husband who is a designer we’ve gone the custom route before. But, these days it both quicker (have you ever worked with a designer who is his own toughest critic on his personal projects? Good luck getting a final design) and cheaper to go the pre-made route. Plus with the number of layouts to choose from there is a slim chance people will see your card over and over again in their mailbox.

Enter Shutterfly.  I’ve been using Shutterfly since the days when you sent them your film and they sent back your photos. Remember film? Yeah – it’s been that long.  I’ve even managed to get my mom hooked on the site and if it’s easy enough for her to use then anyone can use it. She loves to make photo books for the grandkids – chronicling her adventures with them. Those are some serious treasures; M loves reading her special books as bedtime stores.

Anyway, we’ve used Shutterfly for holiday cards before and will be doing so again this year. Seriously, with over 500 designs to choose from how can you go wrong? But, yeah – 500 designs to chose from. I need you to help me pick. Here are the 3 I’ve narrowed it down to:

I love this one because we had Wonderful World played at our wedding. Plus I would give us the opportunity to show off some of the great photos Heather took of the kids.

I like how this one is part photo card part “family update letter”

I really like how simple this one is and how it doesn’t scream “holiday” from the outside. I could hang a card like this on the fridge and not worry about it being out of season.

So help me pick – tell me which one you like best. And tell me – are you a holiday card collector like me? Do you write a letter or just send a card? Or do you skip it altogether?

Disclosure: I received 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly for this post.  All opinions are 100% mine and based on previous services/products for which I paid.

Super Heroes Can Sew

It’s no secret that I like to sew. I actually like knitting better but sewing has the instant gratification thing going for it. (Don’t ask me about MAD’s baby blanket that I started knitting almost a year ago). I don’t consider myself a very good seamstress but I can find my way around a sewing machine. In my middle school you had to to take both home ec and shop – something for which I will be forever grateful. My mom taught me how to sew, but Home Ec gave me some structure and cemented most of  my skills since we had to make an article of clothing and a stuffed animal for grades. As a side note – do schools even offer home ec and shop anymore? Those classes taught me some wonderful life skills and everyone (boys and girls) had to take 2 years of each. It was brilliant.

Anyway, while I do plently of sewing for our household I don’t often consider sewing for others. I’m too self-conscious of my lack of skills. I once made roman shades for our friends/neighbors and I was nauseous the entire time I worked on them because I feared screwing them up. I can guarantee that you will never find me on Etsy as I think that kind of pressure would give me an ulcer. So, I stick with fun projects for the kids and easy things like curtains and repairs.

Then Heather posted this pic of a superhero set she made for her nephew I thought “I think can do that!” and we had a birthday party for a 3 year old girl the following Sunday. So, I started looking around the internet and came across a ton of instructions and tutorials. I ended up mostly using this one. As luck would have it, satin is on super-sale due to Halloween. That plus felt and thread and I spent a whopping $7.39 on supplies. I figured it was a pretty small investment and if it sucked we could go buy a more conventional gift. However, I think it turned out pretty well:

Of course, in my sleep deprived and somewhat rushed state, I put the appliques on the wrong sides (I intended for the purple star to be on the pink satin and the pink circle to be on the purple side – oops!). And having never worked with satin before the seams are a bit overworked – that stuff is slippery! But the birthday girl didn’t seem to care & put it on right away:

And, since I was on a sewing roll I whipped up a matching number shirt for her to rock during her 3rd year. Do you know much 3 year olds loving sharing their age? This shirt makes it easy:

The project was so much fun I already have the materials to make a cape for M. And I think I may be taking more handmade gifts to future birthday parties.

Six Months

Dear MAD,

I blink my eye and already you are six months old. A roly-poly, bubble-blowing, smiling baby. No more hint of newborn anywhere to be found.

MAD at 6 months
Photo by the amazing
Heather Durdil

Remember when I told the universe that you were such a great sleeper? Well that promptly ended right after I returned to work. For the past 3 months you have been getting up every 2 hours to eat and nothing we do seems to help. Your daddy tries to soothe you, we try letting you cry it out but nothing short of a meal works. It’s getting really, really old. I don’t mind the midnight feedings on account of your adorable smiles, giggles and raspberry blowing; but the 2 and 4 AM feedings I could do without.

Other than the sleep issues you are a terrifically easy baby. You are content to just watch what is happening around you and when you have a whirling dervish of a big sister there is always something to watch. In fact, no one can bring out your dimples like M. You think she is the funniest thing on the planet. Yesterday you, M and I went to a local farm and you spent nearly 3 hours in the carrier just taking it all in. You never made a peep outside of some laughing at your sister and blowing raspberries. The wide world fascinates you and it brings me so much joy to watch you take it all in.

You’ve been sitting on your own for a few weeks now and want to be upright all the time. This also means a new world of shopping cart rides and highchairs. When you do topple over you like to be on your belly with your head up looking around. You’re also starting to scoot all over the room like an inchworm. I’m not ready for you to crawl yet, so take your time.

We just started daily solid foods as previous attempts were rejected. Now you gobble up oatmeal, sweet potatoes, peas, squash, green beans and prunes with reckless abandon. It won’t be long before you are eating the same things we are and I can’t wait to introduce you to some of our family’s favorite things. As it is now you love watching us eat dinner and are always reaching for our plates and glasses.

In fact you are reaching for everything. You grasp and pull anything that comes into you reach including your sister’s hair and whatever is on the ground. We have to be careful now about dog hair tumble weeds and other hazards. If nothing else this means we have to be better housekeepers. Your Sophie giraffe is your all time favorite toy – you could gnaw and drool on her all day long.

Your easy smiles and deep dimples charm people wherever we go. And daycare reports that you are an easy-going baby who rarely cries. I still get to see you everyday at lunch but that will be phasing out soon. I’ll miss sniffing your fuzzy head and showering a thousand kisses on your cheeks during my afternoon break.

My favorite moments are when you clasp my finger and hold on tight while you’re eating. Or when you put your hands on my cheeks and pull my face close to yours, willing me to blow a zerbert on your cheek. And when your interactions with your sister draw a delighted squeal or belly laugh from you.

I can’t wait for the next six months. Just don’t grow up too fast.