Thursday, December 31, 2015


I hiked Pinnacle Mountain a lot in the first part of the year.

I mostly quit drinking Mtn. Dew.

We looked at schools for Evelyn.

Cody got permanent work.

We read that book on the love languages and I rolled my eyes at a lot of it, and I don't think either one of us finished it.  But we did get enough of it to realize we'd been throwing our 'I love yous' right past each other.  Whoops.  If Cody cleans the kitchen a bit better and gets the coffee maker ready for the next day every night and I say nice things about him (especially in front of Evelyn), we're a much happier dynamic duo.

I went to therapy for a while.  We mostly talked about work and parenting.  The parenting stuff, I can adapt to.  The work stuff will probably always be hard for me.  I'm still trying to figure out how to enjoy the good parts, and to really get the most out of the weeks/months when I'm not completely physically and emotionally drained so that I can enjoy life outside the office.

We found a school for Evelyn.  The roughest part of transition, in my opinion, was brought on by the fact that Evelyn really got into baby dolls a month or two before school started.  And you can't take your baby to school.  It was a contentious time for all of us.  That being said, Cody and I went to the first PTO meeting of the year (less than a month after school started) and Evelyn wanted to bring her beloved baby.  I can't tell you how many people--from teachers to parent volunteers--said "This must be Hildegard!" because she told them all about her baby, and they listened.  We really, really like Evelyn's school.

Now would be a good time to say that we love our library as well.  I love all libraries, really, but our little local library has been an important factor in helping Evelyn love learning.  The lovely people there are also a big part of why she's so at ease with asking questions of people in charge and why she feels so confident that they'll answer her seriously. 

She asks a lot of questions, and this year I started pointing her in the direction of people who could answer them even if we weren't in a library.  Park interpreters, the nice guy at the Capitol visitors desk, or anyone else got an earful.  Often.

We went to a few museums, and the Historic Arkansas Museum was probably my favorite.  We went there a lot.

Evelyn also really likes my work.  I get a lot of stress from it.  But I also work with some very lovely people, and many of them hold Evelyn in high regard.  She feels welcome there, and she is.  I'm incredibly glad.

Evelyn can kind of read a bit.

We went to the beach this summer.  We sunburned horribly and ate too much and the house was way too full of people who were way too loud and on conflicting sleep schedules.  It was fantastic.  The three of us swam in the ocean together a few times and it was all I wanted out of life maybe.  Evelyn got to enjoy a lot of swimming and I get irrationally excited about driving places in the middle of the day.

We did not go to the state fair, a pumpkin patch, or to look at Christmas lights.  We did meet Santa 3 times and go to a classmate's birthday party.

There was a lot of time to play with cousins.  And there were plenty of grandparent sleepovers.

There was also a trip or two to my old allergist. Evelyn is on maintenance medication, and it's working awfully well.  She likes her inhaler, and I like that we can treat the cough that pops up every time she gets a stuffy nose or an ear infection or the temperature shifts twenty degrees in a day.  Glorious!

Cody's getting into meal planning.  I keep making the same knitting patterns over and over because it's what makes me happy.

We didn't do as much as I'd hoped or planned in 2015, but we had a lot of fun.  I'm not really sure what we have going on in 2016.  I'm hoping we get to see friends and family more.  I keep swearing up and down that we'll go camping some day.  It could happen.  Whatever we do, I think we'll have a good time.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Here lately

Here are the 24 squares I managed to make this year mixed up with the ones I made last year.  I think this project will keep going in 2016.

Cody made me a belated birthday cake earlier this week.  Yellow cake mix with frosting from a can--my absolute favorite.  Evelyn helped and then she especially added the sprinkles.

My car's been in the shop since last week.  I had planned to do a million things with my vacation time this week, but I haven't done a whole lot of anything.  A little laundry, a lot of playing with Evelyn, a few cleaning projects, some crafting, and a good amount of time seeing these smiling faces.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas 2015

Here are the Christmas pictures!  I gave Evelyn one present early.  She saw a baby doll in Wal-Mart a few weeks ago when we were shopping for her school's gift exchange.  She loved it and wanted it more than anything.  I knew she wouldn't make it until Christmas day, so she got it in her stocking on Christmas Eve morning. She was the happiest girl you'd ever seen and couldn't wait to introduce [Name that Changes a Lot] to Hildegard and everyone else.

We spent a lot of Christmas Eve with Cody's side of the family.  It was a blast!  Here's the really great gingerbread house that Evelyn and her Gram made a few days earlier.

Evelyn helped Spencer pass out the presents (normally his job), and afterward announced to us very solemnly "Listen, everyone.  Guys, I really liked all my presents."

She also really liked decorating cookies.

Playing Candyland with her dad and uncle. She won on the very first time she played, told everyone, and replied to everyone's wishes to have a merry Christmas with "I've never been so happy!"  As she told at least one aunt who told her goodnight, "I love winning".  She really, really does.

Christmas morning! She asked Santa for a pink teddy bear and a baby bottle, so that's what she got. The rocket ship was a very exciting bonus!

Then: Christmas at Granddad and Gil's!  Sara gave the big kids art supplies and a guitar. 

He gave Evelyn a flashlight and a gift card, Ellis a big truck, and Calvin....a Hobbes.  So perfect.

Laine and Robert gave Evelyn some Legos and some lovely flower headbands.

Did I mention that Sara got the kids pajamas?  Because she gave them some pajamas that were very well-received.

Ellis wore this pair of pajamas all day long the next day.

I just gave Ellis some dishcloths and a potholder for his play kitchen.  I think he liked the scrubbing sponge that came with his play dishes from Gil and Granddad.  He was thrilled with those.  And his cowboy boots and belt.  Just like Evelyn was thrilled with her belt and boots and jeans from them.  There are pictures, but I've already uploaded so many that they'll have to wait. 

Pictured: a baby I maybe treated like a doll when I made him wear this sweater I knitted even though it was 70 degrees outside.  I think he's already outgrown it.  He's the tallest baby in the world!

On the 26th, the new baby was named Sunny Kid and she really enjoyed modeling this outfit.

Let's be real: Christmas can be a little overwhelming and sometimes you just need to watch some cartoons on a phone.  They enjoyed the snuggling and whatever it is that Peppa Pig does.  That can be a fun way to spend your Christmas weekend, too.

Monday, December 28, 2015

A birthday post for Levi

Levi turned 27 on the 27th.

This year, he became an uncle again, worked on some cool side projects, and was my favorite brother for the twenty-seventh year in a row.
Babies love him a lot.
Evelyn even thought he looked taller yesterday.

Evelyn did a little bit of her own Christmas shopping this year, and she got some very nice gifts that suited her loved ones' personalities.  Everyone was very impressed and I was so grateful that she's learning how to be a thoughtful gift-giver.  But my favorite part was when more than one person in my family pointed out that she was turning into just as good of a gift-giver as Levi.  My girl has a lot of great examples around her to learn from, but if she can turn out as hardworking and generous as her Uncle Levi is I'll be all kinds of thrilled. 


(I would also like it if she could work on my car and carry heavy things for me as much as Levi does.)

He's a super great guy, and sometime I think he'd be my favorite brother even if he had a little competition.

Happy (belated) birthday, bud!!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A birthday post for Ellis James

Ellis is two years old! That's such a big boy age!

This is a picture from his first birthday party. He is so much bigger now!!
He's driven tractors, gotten a little brother, and apparently he knows how to use a phone even better than his parents knew--when Evelyn and I called to sing to him, he said "Bye bye, Jen" and hung up on us while Laine held the phone.

Like I said, such a big boy.

In a way, I'm surprised that he's just now two.  He's a pretty big guy, and he talks like a champion.   I'm so excited to see him later in the week, in part because I just love to hear him chatter. 

I love that he has the same initials as Evelyn. 


I love how much he likes to wear hats.


I love to hear him sing.

I think he's one of the best and brightest little guys I know, and one of the sweetest sweethearts to ever exist.

Happy birthday!  We love you!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

I'm 33

Today's my birthday.  I celebrated by taking Evelyn to a follow-up visit with her asthma doctor. The respiratory therapist thought she was doing incredibly well.  She also gave Evelyn a 'happy birthday' sticker to give to me because Evelyn told her it was my birthday.  She told the receptionist that she had a dinner of chicken and corn a few days ago.  She showed everyone her new Barbie doll that she got in her class's gift exchange.  She gave a candy cane to her doctor, who was my doctor when I was younger.

We went to the capitol and saw the Christmas tree and listened to carolers.  We went to the visitors' desk to ask how they set up the tree.  A man told Evelyn that the tree is artificial and made up of over 100 pieces.

We went to Wendy's for lunch, which is her favorite and maybe mine. 

We went home, dealt with a tantrum, did some other stuff, read some books, and then she went to my parents' house for Christmas break adventures (and I made plans with her gram to set up some grandparent time. The girl is social!).  Then I did a bunch of laundry.

If 33 can be this sweet and low-key all the time, I'd be a happy camper.  I got some lovely texts and messages.  I got to see some family people.  I drank a bunch of tea and wore my favorite flannel shirt.  I wrote a post and didn't bother to upload a picture.

I liked 32.  I think this could be even better.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

More Advent squares

I'm still making a square a day this Advent. 

And I'm still keeping up with photographing them.

I'm just not very on top of posting about them.

But I'm still enjoying the process of making one every day.  Of putting colors together.  Of pacing myself.

Of thinking about waiting for good things.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A birthday post for Mom

Mom's birthday was yesterday!!

We celebrated this past weekend with hibachi (Ellis was a fan. Evelyn, less so) and cake.

This was a good year.  She took a trip to Mexico with Dad, went to Crystal Bridges, and got yet another grandbaby. 

Calvin showing up to the party is probably the biggest event of the year for all of us, and we're super happy he's here.

What's going to happen next year? Who knows?!! The sky's the limit.  I bet it's going to be a good time.

Mom, may your chickens lay lots of eggs. May you always be warm enough, or at least have adequate layers wherever you go.  May your grandkids always be as enthralled with you as they are now.

And happy belated birthday.  We love you!!