Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Cheer

Yuletide Greetings From Us to You! 

Christmas cards are in the mail, the tree is up, and I have hives. It's officially Christmas!

I love decorating the tree (even though I am allergic) because our ornaments bring back so many fond memories. Jeff and I started the tradition of buying a special ornament every year, one that represents the journeys of the last 12 months. We also buy one each time we go on vacation, and cherish the ornaments gifted to us by others. We laugh, smile, cry, and reminisce each time a new ornament gets taken out of the box. I do not think there is any better way to decorate your home.

Hand-knit ornaments we bought on our trip to Iceland.

A beautiful bird gifted to us by Jeff's mom.

A corgi ornament (corgament) we found after we got Willow.

We went on a hot air balloon ride the year we bought this one. 

And most important to us, a Family Tree ornament, and Baby's First from Everett's first Christmas.

When I was little, I noticed a spark in the air every Christmas. We were waiting for Santa to come, writing him letters, baking him cookies, hoping we had been good enough to get presents under the tree. My older siblings told me they heard reindeer on the roof, and I stayed up as late as I could, listening with excitement.

Now that I am older, I am surprised to still find that same spark of excitement at this time each year. Even after I stopped "believing," I waited in anticipation for Santa to ride around our neighborhood on his sleigh, shouting "Ho! Ho! Ho!" to the sound of Christmas music. And a few years later, my big brother was that Santa! I ran out with all the little kids, watching with pride as he brought joy to those around me.

And now that I am really grown up, there are few people in my world who still believe in Santa. However, each day I walk into work, I feel that spark of excitement coming from the college students. They will be going home soon, taking a break from homework, eating proper food, and reading Harry Potter instead of Plato's Republic.

This spark? I think it is Hope. We are all waiting in anticipation this Advent season. And whether or not you believe (in Santa or Jesus' birth), you cannot help but feel the Joy and happiness around you. So drink some wassail*, eat all the cookies you can*, and snuggle up with your loved ones this season. Because no matter what life throws at you, there is always Hope.

*I always take my own advice. My gallbladder hurts...

Friday, December 13, 2013

Ebble's Favorite Things: Christmas Edition

1. Baby Moccasins. A few months ago, I bought Everett these baby moccasins off Etsy. They are my faves! The other day, Everett and I were out shopping at Costco. He was not wearing his moccasins because he hid one of them under the crib, I could not find it, and I was in a hurry to get us out the door. When I put him in the car after our shopping adventure, I realized he had lost one of his Robeez shoes in the warehouse. I spent the next 30 minutes of my life frantically searching the store - and I'm lucky I did finally find the shoe in that madhouse. I wished he was wearing his moccasins because the wrap-around laces make it hard for him to kick or pull off the shoes. He will eventually pull off and chew on anything decorating his foot, but the design of this bootie makes it MUCH harder. Buying shoes at this age is tough. You need something to protect their walking feet, but many baby shoes are not designed for little walkers, and can actually hinder their walking development. I can't remember where I read this, but in my mom research I learned that soft-soled shoes are best for little babies who are finding their feet. Everett will be getting a pair of  fuzzy bootie moccasins for Christmas to keep his feet warm and cozy during these chilly months. The best part? Etsy purchases support small businesses, this particular shop owner uses all local materials, and her products have stood the test of time in our household. Worth every penny.
2.   Four Graces Winery. Since my last post made me sound like a total wine-o, I decided to feature my new favorite wine on this month's favorites. Embrace your vices! The Four Graces winery is a small establishment in Oregon wine country. We stopped by their tasting room on a whim while wine tasting, and I am so glad we did. Sometimes the smaller vineyards have the best wine. Though in my opinion, the high quality of this wine will not keep them small for long. Get it while it's cheap...ish. Our favorites were the Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. We do not usually like whites, so that is really saying something. A bottle of this will make a great Christmas gift, or the perfect dinner wine for a special occasion - like Christmas. We got a bottle for our nanny, who could really use the alcohol after a week with 2 babies. NOTE: don't be mistaken, we rarely spend more than $10 on a bottle of wine.
3. Zebra Push Toy. A friend of mine sent me the link to this toy. LOVE! I remember toys like this from my childhood, and they were always my favorite. This one is especially appealing to me because it is made of natural materials, which is always a plus in my book.
4. Riding toys. Oh man. Everett got one of these for his birthday, and he will not stop playing with it. This toy is the perfect "big Christmas present" for a reasonable price. In my experience, you can't go wrong with a toy if it has wheels.  
5. Costco Peppermint Bark. No description necessary. I hope you are lucky enough to have a Costco in your area. Then, I hope you are lucky enough that the Peppermint Bark is not sold out. Check the bakery section for a delicious holiday treat.
6. Christmas in the Manger. Our friend M gave Everett this book for his birthday. I cried at the turn of every page when reading it for the first time. Then I couldn't stop crying. Christmas is a very emotional time for me...obviously. The book is written with sweet little poems on every page, and beautifully captures the true meaning of Christmas.
7. Recycled Plastic Stacker. I featured this one a few months back, but it is just as used today as it was then. Now Everett is learning to put the toy back together, so I am not having to clean up after him as much, and he is developing his hand-eye coordination.
8. SleepSacks. I was skeptical of this product at first. I mean, why not just put a blanket on your kid? I have seen the light! Once babies start tossing and turning in their sleep, a blanket does not stay covering their little bodies. A Sleep Sack will keep your little bundle warm on the coldest of nights - nights when Mom is cuddled in a down blanket and fuzzy socks (both of which will fall off a baby).

Everett will also be getting a convertible car seat for Christmas. After about a year of research, we have it narrowed down to 1) Clek Foonf, 2) Chicco Nextfit, 3) Maxi Cosi Pria 70, and 4) Britax Marathon. Now accepting suggestions on brands.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

First Birthday Celebration!

 It's been a hectic and emotional couple of weeks for the Wirth household. We had a relaxing Thanksgiving in Portland, then immediately went into beast mode for birthday party preparation when we returned to Spokane. Jeff and I both had to work on Everett's actual birthday, so we really wanted to make his party weekend special.

To start off the weekend, Everett got his first haircut. I had no idea how emotional this experience was going to be, and I realize now that I did not give myself enough time to process the action before I brought Everett to the salon. As a result, I could not sleep for two nights after we cut off his baby hair, I cried way too many times, and I hated myself for jumping the gun on this very important milestone - which does not seem so important for those who are not parents.

A baby becomes less of a baby once that fine hair is cut off. It will never grow back quite as soft, and it will never be quite the same hue. People kept commenting on how long his hair was getting, so I felt a little pressured to have him looking clean-cut for his birthday party. If we had our way, and if society did not put pressures and expectations on us, we would not have cut Everett''s hair until it turned into a mullet. That being said, I do not think our decision was wrong...or right. Having stepped back and taken the time to process it all, I finally see a handsome little boy when I look at my son. He is still my baby, and I still love him just as much, but it is more physically obvious how much he is growing up. And the real bonus? He is no longer brushing hair out of his eyes when it is windy outside.


After. She took off that little bit, but I still cried.

And now we shall talk about the BIRTHDAY EXTRAVAGANZA!!!

First, we had to determine how to integrate birthday decor into the already existing Christmas decor. We did end up moving a few winter decorations to storage during the party, which gave us a couple stations that were specifically dedicated to birthday madness.

To make life easier on ourselves, we served Costco polish sausages (warmed on high in a crock pot for 2 hours) with a variety of topping options, chips, crock pot vegetarian chili, fruit salad, and pesto pasta salad.

We made funfetti cupcakes for our guests, then frosted them using this recipe. Dip the cupcakes into a bowl of sprinkles and you get a yummy treat!

I made Everett's smash cake by filling 3 ramekins with batter and baking them with the cupcakes. Next, cut off two of the raised tops and stack the pieces, using frosting to hold the layers together. Cover the whole thing with frosting, throw on some sprinkles, and you've got it! So. Easy.

This was Everett's first experience with cake. Let's just say he wasn't the biggest fan.

The singing wasn't all that bad. He kinda loved it. 

But then he knocked over the cake. That spooked him a little.

 He decided to be brave and try it anyway...

 Not having it, so I decided to help...big mistake.

He was already mad, so might as well smash his hands into the cake...

Aaaand we've just about had enough...


But everything went back to normal after we got him cleaned up. 

He then got to open some wonderful gifts from his family and friends.

Everett may not remember his first birthday party, but getting through the first year of parenting is definitely something to celebrate. So, celebrate we did.

 Thank you to everyone who came to celebrate with us! 

And now it's time to decorate the house for I know why birthdays close to the holidays often get forgotten.
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