December 20, 2013

Yes, Zachary, there IS a Santa Claus

I'm going to make this as simple as I can.

Growing up, the magic of Santa was part of what made Christmas so special to me.  Because of my parents, I also knew that we were celebrating the birth of Jesus and what that meant for humanity and what that meant for us.  Even as children, "Jesus was sent to love us and take away our sins," was easy enough to understand.  For us, Jesus was serious.  Santa was magical.

I'm 32 years old and only just now beginning to scrape the tip of the iceberg about the different kind of magic that comes with knowing and having a relationship with Jesus Christ.  I cannot possibly expect my baby boy to understand that.  We will read the story to him of what we believe to be the true reason we celebrate Christmas every year, and reinforce those values year-round.

But there will also be magic.  There will be awe and wonder.  There will be stories of selflessness and giving because we love, not because we are good. 

There will be Santa.

If my child learns that Santa is not real (either from us, in a gentle way, or from some jerk kid who ruins it for him long before I'm ready to let that part of his innocence be taken away) and then begins to question everything he is told, I see that as a good thing.

I want him to ask questions. I want him to understand why he believes what he does and why we act the way we do based on those beliefs.

If he asks why Santa doesn't come to those who are in lower economic stations, we will hopefully say things like "Baby, we helped Santa those years, when we were selfless and mindful of others and gave to those we could help."

But the magic and awe and wonder I already see in his eyes...whether it's because he can't believe he has these things called feet attached to his legs or because the lights and sparkles of our tree are just too beautiful for him to comprehend...I want to see that for many years.

Then, as he grows older and begins to question things and discover the love that Jesus has for him on a more mature level, and how we can see and emulate Jesus all around us, I look so very forward to seeing a new light in his eyes each time a new realization creates a spark that wasn't there before.

There are so many allegories of faith and love and the supernatural and magical in the belief in Santa and the relationship with Christ, and those parallels can be seen in one of my very favorite pieces of writing: the famous editorial, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" (emphasis mine):

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

I support 100% the choice of other parents and families to not implement the tradition of Santa Claus into their holiday traditions.  However, for my husband and me, this was not even a discussion.  We both remember the magic and the joy, and we cannot wait to experience it on the other side of the coin now as parents.

Z, may you always know the magic of the holiday season, whether it's because of the anticipation of Santa Claus or because of the wonderful heaviness of the knowledge of Christ -- God's ultimate gift to us -- that will bring you to your knees in wonder and gratitude.

December 19, 2013

Ice Days!

I've mentioned it a couple of times, but in the past couple of weeks, our little area of North Texas got hit with some pretty nasty weather!  Not only was the 4-5 inches of solid ice dangerous, but we are notoriously ill-equipped to deal with it (or drive on it) once it's here.  (One would think we'd have learned something from the 2011 Ice/Snowpocalypse when the Super Bowl was in Dallas, and yet...)

Luckily, we were prepared.  I had already gone to the grocery store and stocked up on the necessities (you know, stuff for making cookies, baby formula, beer milk, etc.), and we just prepared for a few days of forced togetherness.

Now, having traded off a stomach virus and knowing that something was up with Z (turns out it was two very mean teeth coming in at the same time), we knew it could get a little crazy in the house after too long. 

But we found things to do. I set up our pre-lit Christmas tree, and Z was enthralled:

Then we got it all decorated:

We baked some delicious pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, and my little helper seemed to enjoy being in the kitchen with me:

We took naps (well, one of us did):

And my husband introduced Z to one of our favorite old cartoons, Ferdinand the Bull:

(look at him grabbing Michael's thumb! I am dying from the cuteness...)

We did venture out once the ice started melting on the roads so that we could take Z to visit Santa.  He was all smiles...until we walked away:

poor guy :( and poor Santa!

Back at home, we managed to get some much happier pics of the babies for our annual Christmas card!

So, while we were all very ready for all that nasty ice to melt so we could get back to our regular, daily routine, it was really nice to have my very favorite people (and my favorite dog!) in the house all together, cozy and warm and safe for a few days!  Staying in PJs all day, napping at leisure, baking, and togetherness.  A nice precursor to our first Christmas as a slightly larger family!

December 18, 2013

Outfit of the Day

I haven't done one of these in a LONG time!  For one thing, I just ran out of ideas after a while and started wearing some of the same things over and over. 

Also, I had a teething baby that started waking up in the middle of the night several nights in a row (I know, I'll cry you a river.  But when you aren't used to it for months, it's a bit of an adjustment) for feedings and cuddles.  In the mornings, I was lucky if I had on two matching shoes.

Also also, we were iced in for about 5 days in a row.  I wore...the same pajamas all 5 days.  Yup. 

So here's a mix of some of my favorite outfits from the past few weeks when I remembered and/or felt cute enough to take a photo:

.......I think I need more bright colors in my wardrobe.  Especially my fall/winter wardrobe. 

Top Left: Shirt from Stitch Fix, blazer from my closet (probably thrifted), pendant necklace from Plato's Closet, jeans from....Kohl's, maybe?

Top Right: Scarf from Target, jumper is Bitten by Sarah Jessica Parker, shirt and leggings...I've had forever.  You can't see it but I'm wearing my black TOMs in both the top pics.

Bottom Left and Middle: Faux Leather peplum top is Jennifer Lopez for Kohl's. Black slacks have been seen on the blog several times!  Necklace is from a local boutique, gift from my best friend.

Bottom Right: Dress is from Plato's Closet, leggings I've had forever, leopard print belt is from my mom's closet!

I've most definitely slacked off recently in my clothing choices lately...worn more jeans and long-sleeved shirts with TOMs more often than I'd like to admit.  But November and December can be quite hectic! 

Here's to some possibility for brave new fashion choices (and brighter colors) in 2014!!

December 16, 2013

Z at Five Months

This may be the latest monthly update yet!  We didn't take these photos until two weeks after his 5-month birthday!  Same old time, etc., with a bit of "Icemageddon" and "stomach virus" thrown in there. 

I cannot believe this little boy is 5 months old! He is changing SO much....look at ONE month vs. FIVE months:

Pause for a few tears...*sniff, sniff*

He is allllll over the place now that he knows how to roll back and forth from back to tummy and tummy to back!  Now we have to keep an eye on him constantly...he's across the room in a matter of seconds!

He is such a happy baby and so generous with his smiles! 

In the last couple of months, Z has spent  much more time with his cousins and family!  He also loves his exersaucer that he's borrowing from his cousin D:

Aunt Jo came to visit for Thanksgiving, and it was love at first sight!  We even got Aunt Jo babywearing for a few minutes!

He LOVES bath time now!  Remember when he would look so upset and tortured? Not anymore!  He loves to kick his feet and splash around! 

He and Carmen are developing a whole new relationship. Now that he's mobile, Carmen is a bit more skittish of him because she gets spooked when he suddenly rolls up behind her and reaches for her!  But, she's also running up towards him with her rope tuggy, begging him to play!  She doesn't quite understand him yet, but he adores her.  We can't wait to see how their relationship changes as Z gets older!

He is still eating like a champ, and we'll start trying purees and solids with the beginning of the new year!  So many firsts still to come!

Happy Holidays to you all!

December 9, 2013

Stitch Fix #2

Don't know if you've all been paying attention to the news and weather reports lately, but most of North Texas, where I live, has been essentially SHUT. DOWN. the last few days because of an ice storm.  Normally, I think that Texans overreact and/or are ill-prepared to handle winter weather, but this one really was no joke.  Overnight we had 4-5 inches of solid ice on the ground, making travel very dangerous, if not impossible. 

Also, my house has been trading a stomach bug back and forth since Thanksgiving (we're all on the mend now!) and the Little One has been teething.  So please forgive the fact that I look like a WRECK in these photos!  But let me say that Jaime, my stylist, NAILED this fix!  She really listened to what I said in my feedback last time, and I loved every single thing she sent me. 

If you're saying WAIT WAIT SLOW DOWN, WHAT THE HECK IS A STITCH FIX?? then let me point you to my post about my first fix, in which I explain how it works!

Onto the fix!

Click here to get started!

I specifically asked Jaime to send me something that would be perfect for holiday parties in this fix.  She took my request and sent something perfect that would also work for the office!

The Paltrow Stretch Lace Hi-Lo Peplum Top -- $98. This emerald green, lace top would be PERFECT with jeans, heels, and a blazer with a sparkly brooch or statement earrings.

I didn't take a picture of the back, but it also featured an exposed, gold zipper, which I thought was a nice touch of glitz and a fun surprise.  Unfortunately, this top was both a little out of my price range and a little too snug around my midsection, which is still fairly lumpy after having Z.  I knew I'd be self-conscious in it.  But the quality was lovely and the color PERFECT for me. 

Mavi Denim Jacket -- $98

Guys...I LOVED this jacket.  A good denim jacket is SO hard to find!

I loved the cut, and it was a perfect dark wash. It was soft and stretchy and would look fantastic dressed up or down.  Unfortunately, we ran into another size+price issue.  The price actually isn't terrible, to me, when you consider how much people spend for a good pair of jeans.  This denim jacket would last forever, and would have been worth the investment.  But, despite the sleeve length and where it hit my torso being perfect, it was just a little tight in the arms and would not button across my chest.  Sigh.  Back it goes...

The Nickelle Striped Long-Sleeved Shirt -- $48

When I pulled this shirt out of the box, I LOVED the style, but I was hesitant about horizontal stripes...

But I love this shirt so much!! I think that tiny bit of diagonal stripe on the pocket offsets the horizontal stripes perfectly, and I love how the boat neckline and the navy & white stripes give it a nautical look.  This would be so fun with a pop of color in another item...yellow, red, etc.  KEEPING this shirt!  The price is perfect for me.

Benian Mini Chain Detail Crossbody Bag -- $58

I nearly purrrrred with delight when I pulled out this bag!  It says "off-white" in the description but I'd call it peach, actually.

It is made of SUCH soft leather, and I love the style and the chain detail! There was a smaller pouch of the same material inside, as well as a longer shoulder strap.  Guys, this was so tempting!! But I had a budget since it's near the holidays, and I wanted another item from my fix instead.  Also, I do love my Dooney & Bourke purse, and I'm not one to have multiple handbags.  But this price is a steal for the quality of this bag!!  Sending it back.  With a tear in my eye.

Albertson Chambray Henley Blouse -- $68

When I saw on the packing slip that I had another chambray item (after the disappointing shirt dress from my last fix), I was cautiously excited.  I love chambray, and it's really big this fall.  I see it all the time on campus, with leggings and boots and those cozy-looking, tall boot socks and scarves!

I knew as soon as I put this shirt on that I was keeping it!  It's so soft and I love the way it fits! I love the asymmetrical hem (it's slightly longer in the back), and the rolled sleeves with the button closure to keep them up.  My stylist clearly paid attention to my disappointment that the last chambray item didn't work for me, and was Jaime-on-the-spot to find me another one!  KEEPING.

I know the prices seem high, but let me remind you that you get a 25% discount if you buy all 5 items, AND your $20 stylist fee goes towards your total.  If you have credits from people clicking on your referral links, it takes the price down even further!

Here's how this fix would have worked out for me:

Total: $370 - $20 stylist fee - $37 credit - $87.50 for the discount = $225.50.  Just over $200 for 5 items of such high quality is a great deal, in my opinion. 

I actually got another referral credit while I was trying these on, so by the time I decided on my two items, plus my referral credits, plus my $20 stylist fee, I am only out of pocket $34 for this fix!  Cannot beat that!

I'm extremely happy with this fix! I can't wait to schedule another one after the new year! 

Interested?  Please click on my referral link to get started!