December 27, 2011

Book Review: The Magic Room

The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters by Jeffery Zaslow shows the intersection of life, love, pop culture, and wedding gowns. Zaslow weaves the story of Becker's Bridal, located in small-town Michigan, with the stories of the brides who step onto the platform surrounded by mirrors in "the magic room."

As the book unfolds, Zaslow relates the stories of brides on the cusp of their wedding. Brides without mothers, brides who have never kissed their grooms, brides with children. But he is gentle with his subjects. Shelley, the current owner of Becker's Bridal, is divorced and grew up in a family that revolved around the family business. Shelley's determination to grow the business and her observations of love and family life truly round out the book.

The errant sociologist in me wished Zaslow had lent additional research and pages to the snippets of information and commentary he provides about the wedding industry in general. It was interesting to read how TV-broadcast weddings influenced dress styles, and even how reality shows like Say Yes to the Dress were changing how women shopped and what they expected from the dress-buying experience.

I remember standing on a platform, surrounded by mirrors, my mother or groups of women I loved. I feel fortunate to have found my dream wedding dress, and better yet, to have worn it to step into my new life with the man of my dreams.

Want to find out more about The Magic Room? I'll be participating in the BlogHer Book Club right here:

fa la la la la

tovi's side of the family comes to visit every other christmas.
it's such a great time of fellowship, long lingering meals, walks on the beach, stories of growing up.
i have loved getting to know this side of the family during christmastime.
over the last few years, we've had a ladies brunch at my house after christmas. 
i cook, they chat, aunt tracy brings all her card making supplies for us to play with. 
lovely, right?

this year i had woefully underplanned.

on chrsitmas evening, i took cruz home early, put him to bed, and leapt into brunch-planning-action. 

i may have been curling my hair and pulling eggs out of the oven when the guests arrived, but it all came together!

lesson learned: never let a short deadline stop you from serving waffles to the ones you love.

December 24, 2011

December 20, 2011

family date night

our homegroup is on christmas break, so we found ourselves with an open tuesday night!
the last few days have been tough ones. there are several people i love dearly who are in sad and impossible situations... my heart just aches and aches. 
all i want to do is hold my family so so tight and never let go. 
a family date night was exactly what i needed. 

step one was to put on christmas jammies

we stopped to admire our tree ("chee!")

loaded up the car with donuts and hot chocolate.

and drove around admiring griswold-style christmas decorations. 

at first, i thought the house with the inflatable winter carousel would win. 
maybe the one with the reindeer strung between the palm trees and house.
but then we saw an inspiring home with at least five life-size (and larger) santas, a santa coming out of the chimney, a full nativity...
tovi: is that an american flag in lights on the roof?
we had a winner. 

i hope you're doing something tonight with someone you love. 

December 15, 2011

some things i've been thinking about

+ we needed to make room for some important things in our freezer this week. you know, like a costco-sized bag of sweet potatoes and candy cane joe-joe ice cream. important stuff. to squeeze all that goodness in there, i had to throw out old frozen bags of pumped breastmilk.
i realize that not everyone reading this will understand how that feels, so let me paint a picture: imagine that one payday, your boss hands you a check. you deserve this check. you have worked really, really hard for this check. you are going to put it towards something awesome.
but instead, on the way home, you willingly throw it out the window.
that is what throwing out breastmilk feels like.

+ is your one year old a picky eater? mine is. lately he has been very unwilling to eat vegetables (or at least, very very willing to share them with the dog). the other day, i found some yogurt at whole foods that is yogurt on top, green beans on the bottom! genius. cruz has no idea what hit him. 

+ i am almost done with my christmas shopping. scaled down christmas is the best. if you are familiar with the five love languages, and also familiar with me, it will probably not surprise you that words of affirmation is (are?) the number one way i feel and give love (just tell me you like me, ok?). if you know me, it will probably not surprise you that giving gifts is the worst way i feel and give love. you probably know this because i have either gotten you a terrible present or just shown up at your birthday party with nothing at all. i tend to get overwhelmed at this time of year when confronted with so much gift-giving. but this year i have really scaled back on who and how much, and i'm finding that my gifts are much more thoughtful. i think. i guess you, gift-recipient, will be the judge of that.

+ this morning i dropped tovi off at work. we got there early, and put cruz to work making phone calls. he's really good at it.

+ tovi bought me the justin beiber christmas cd for an early present (i am not even going to pretend to be embarrassed because i love it). i have always kind of laughed about christmas albums, especially those of the secular variety. they're just a cash cow for artists, right? how hard can it be to crank out "santa baby"? let's be honest, christina aguilera has a christmas album and one of the songs is "xtina's christmas." but beiber man... solid gold. how can you argue with a song that includes the lines "Playin' for the King, playin for the Title, I'm surprised you didn't hear this in the Bible" and also "People everywhere and all our Twitter followers, Merry Christmas, Kwanza, happy Hanukkah!" both of those lines are in the same song. and that song is little drummer boy. i know. 

+ cruz has been super snuggly lately. before he gets into his crib, he likes to sprawl out on me. sometimes he murmurs "gubba gubba gubba" to himself. it is slightly endearing. ok, super endearing!

+ i do not like to take risks. i am a perfectionist to the core. in a startling move, i have become part of a writing group. we sent each other our first pieces over the weekend. obviously, the moment i hit 'send' i wanted to make a bajllion edits, but it was gone. done. it was read and will be critiqued and i will be humbled. this is going to be good for me. 

+ inspired by one of our pastors, we have begun saying "thank you prayers" and "help me prayers" each night with cruz. i'll say a prayer, and then he'll repeat back the words that he knows. 
me: thank you God for abby
cruz: aaaaaabba
me: thank you God for mommy and daddy
cruz: mommeeeeee, dadda
me: God, help me learn how to walk
cruz: (i'm not saying anything, woman! crawling is the best!)

and lastly...

+ for those who need it: during the christmas season we pretend like everything is cheery (or as beiber sings, "it's that time of the year when you let everything go and you know... shake it, shake it, baby." really? does he mean mardi gras?) but the christmas season is just a made up one, and it is the advent season that is real. from advent we learn these truths: we are a people in darkness. we know that morning is coming. 
"comfort, comfort, o my people... comfort those who sit in darkness, groaning 'neath their sorrows load" 
we are not meant to live with sorrow and pain and death. we are created for something far better. 
"a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices"

December 14, 2011

What He Wore On Wednesday

Woo hoo! I feel like Cruz is learning new words everyday.
Oh dear, I feel like Cruz is learning new words everyday.

This morning I was sitting by the Christmas tree, reading my devotions, when someone yelling,
"Mommeeeee! Up! Up! Up!"
interrupted my lovely moment. 

A sign of things to come.

{okay, all kidding aside, I totally love it and nerd out over every new word he learns}

How great is this color combination?
Pumpkin, navy, brown, and yellow-- someone should definitely Pinterest an outfit for me with this palette. 

yes, that is the dog's bone

I chose this picture of Cruz's outfit because not only is it darn cute but get a load of those eyelashes!

When Cruz goes outside he likes to sweep. Helpful!

Want to see what happens when you take the broom away? 

Tovi and I just burst out laughing! We couldn't stop! Poor baby boy was so mad at us. 
But all is forgiven when he finds his puppy before bedtime. 

December 12, 2011


On Saturday, I left Cruz with Tovi and my in-laws watching El Clasico while I spent two blissful hours shopping alone. I finished a sizeable chunk of my list, and in general felt happy that we're simplifying Christmas this year. 
We're going simpler this year, but one of my Christmas indulgences has been to find Cruz some great Christmas jammies. 
I wanted some classic, striped red and white jams (obviously), but apparently you have to buy those in October. I've been haunting the Hanna Andersen website, giving myself a mental slap in the forehead for not ordering The Perfect Pajamas when our catalog came in September.
First World Problems are so tough, right?
So I have been everywhere looking for The Perfect Pajamas to very little avail.
I have been that lady at Costco, tossing aside each pair on the table to find the right size. No luck. 
On Saturday, I ended up at Macy's with a cute pair that will satisfy me and just you wait until next year, Hanna...

I also found this at Macy's:

Really? REALLY???!!!! 

I can't get over it, I just can't. This is a bib for babies
And I have a sense of humor. Like, I get it. I joke about my baby being a heartbreaker in high school, but I like to think it's because he'll be so nice and charming and smart and a great dancer (you should see him back it up!) that all the girls will want to date him and unless he's into sisterwives, only one girl at a time. Ergo, hearts broken. 
But this bib!
This seems like a step beyond calling your baby a heartbreaker or Mommy's Allstar or Daddy's Tough Guy.
Essentially, this says, "Your daughter won't be safe around my son. I'm raising him to be a predator."

After my shopping trip, I went back to my in-law's house and put Cruz in the bathtub.
I couldn't shake my disgust over that bib, and it seemed so out of place with anything baby, especially as I watched my darling, chubby, innocent son splash around in the tub.
He takes delight in such little everyday things.
He carries around a toothbrush, squeals with delight when he sees "Aaaaabba," sits up while nursing to give me kisses, loves to read...
How dare I take such a pure soul and defile it with such a crass sentiment?

Can I get this on a bib instead?


December 7, 2011

What He Wore On Wednesday

Well, thank goodness today was less crazy than yesterday.

Cruz woke up in his constellation jammies. 
These jams are allegedly glow-in-the-dark, but I wouldn't know because Cruz slept through the night for the first time in what feels like forever. Every night I tell him, "Mommy loves you, Daddy loves you, Jesus loves you, and we'll see you in the morning." 
But he usually likes to see us all around 3am first.

And yes, that is my fearless son scaling the outside of the stairs.
He doesn't even walk yet.
Oh boy.

So it's actually been cold around here! Like, low 40s in the morning. I know!
We did outdoors time once it warmed up.

Just a warning: this outfit might kill you.

Skinny jeans. Skinny jeans. Skinny. Jeans.
Someone hand that hipster some black-rimmed glasses and an ipad!

Oh hey, what's that?

Oh hey, what's that?

And then it was bedtime!
What do baby hipsters listen to before bed?
Foster the Paci? Sippy Milk Hotel! Radiopuffs!

Whatever his taste in music, he's going to look good listening to it. 
Happy Wednesday!

December 6, 2011

a series of increasingly horrifying discoveries

this morning i had a lovely, inspiring back and forth with a girlfriend. we talked about marriage, staying at home with our boys, the balance of being a wife and a mama, keeping the romance alive, cultivating a peaceful home...

i should have known then how the day would turn out.

cruz never went down for his morning nap. 
i left him in the crib, but never felt comfortable enough to take a shower in case he really started wailing. 
it was 11am and i was still in Uggs, thick green socks, sweats that were redeemed from a giveaway pile in college, literally my high school sweatshirt, hair in a messy pony.
romance? nailed it.
i started to clean, hoping i could at least tackle "cultivating a peaceful home." 
i moved the toy box aside for a quick vacuum and came face to face with my first horrifying discovery of the day:
a paci so old and forgotten that it had grown a beard of dog hair
or so it seemed.
i pinched it before my enterprising son could ever find it and scalded and steamed it right clean.

the baby chattered on and on, refusing to let me shower.
next, i tackled the dishes.

friends, there are only a few things more horrifying than washing out a long forgotten sippy cup of goat milk.

at this point, i figured that i had reached my limit on nasty discoveries for the morning. i was sad to be missing out on a shower for the day, but decided that cruz had had enough crib playtime. time to give up and give him a bath.

there's something about the second poop of the day that is just far more horrifying than the first.

before i went to the bathroom to deal with the diaper mess, i stripped cruz down to nothing, closed off all the doors upstairs and let him play in the hallway. you have never seen a baby move as fast as a naked cruz. 

i was figuratively up to my elbows in poop when i heard cruz's tone turn from "hurray!" to "hurry mommy." poking my head out of the bathroom door, i realized that cruz had peed a lake in the middle of the hallway
crawled quickly through it
slipped and skidded 
and finally, judging from the waterfall of blood all over his body,
bit down on his lip as his fell. 
in pee.

"omg," i thought. "thank goodness there is a huge pile of chocolate chip cookies downstairs."

that is when i made the worst discovery of them all: the cookies were gone.

from the silent treatment he received upon coming home, tovi quickly determined i was upset about the morning and the cookie situation.
"i'll be back soon," he said, dodging my glare. "just have to deposit some checks."

twenty minutes later, cruz was actually down for a nap and tovi walked in the door to tell me to go sit at my desk.
and this is what he brought me:

yes. that is keeping the romance alive. 

December 5, 2011

let's be in a book club together

i think we should be in a book club together, you and me. 
here's what i've read recently or am reading right now. get caught up, why doncha?
let's each get a gingerbread latte and talk about boooooooooks.

 +The Passage (Justin Cronin) ... guys, I have no idea of whether or not I liked this book. The first half was awesome! Conspiracy theories, military experiments gone wrong, vamps; it was like a Michael Crichton book on crack! This book got rave reviews everywhere, but I need to process it before I decide. So help a girl out, yeah?

+ Total Money Makeover (Dave Ramsey) ... First impression is that Dave Ramsey's style is a little too folksy for me. Like, I get it. You're a financial guy but not in academia. Yes yes. However, I am really excited about starting down the path to being debt-free and financially sound. Time to be a grown-up about money, y'all. Have you followed Dave's principals? Tell me about your experience! I'm linking to the Amazon listing, but if you're really going to do a total money makeover, you'd better check this book out from the library (thank you for the suggestion, Julie!) and then give yourself a frugal pat on the back. 

+ The Magic Room (Jeffery Zaslow) ... ok, this one I am reading for a book club, but I think you'll want to read it too. The "Magic Room" is the floor-to-ceiling mirrored room in the middle of a bridal shop in Michigan. You know, that place you stood with your mom and your best friends and someone said, "let's see how she looks with a veil on" and suddenly you thought I'm the bride and the moment was magic and tearful and hopeful all at the same time. Oh, that magic room. Zaslow wanted to explore different aspects of love by learning the stories of "women on the brink of commitment" and I can already tell you that I'll weep through this book because the sub-title is "a story about the love we wish for our daughters." Done and done. 

+ Preparing for Jesus (Walter Wangerin Jr) ... During Advent I've been reading this book in place of my regular devotional. Each reading is beautiful and a wonderful way to start my day. I have been having a lot of conversations about Christmas and Advent and there's a deep hunger in me to have this season be about Jesus and longing for Him and celebrating the marvelous wonder of His arrival among us. I was listening to one of the local Christian radio stations the other day and it just killed me to hear them play secular Christmas songs. Christmas is about News so Good that it made angels rejoice and shepherds kneel with kings; I'm certain that songs about Santa will pale in comparison. Do you want to get really wrecked for Christmas? Read this from Jen Hatmaker, but don't say I didn't warn you. Wrecked. What are you doing during Advent?

+ I would never lie to you, so I must confess that after watching Breaking Dawn on opening night, I went back and reread Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, and because I'm truly a Twilight dork, Midnight Sun. Thank you, thank you. Do you see now why I need to have a book club with you? This is what happens when I'm left to my own devices. 

So what should I read next? What are your recs? Can we get that coffee date on the sched or what?

December 3, 2011

saturday roundup

after a crazy week, we got to enjoy a lovely little saturday together. 
as you'll notice, there was a lot of waffle-eating involved. 

cruz is learning how to share. learning. 

oh you want some?

just teasing. 

i don't know what the deal is, but we are always freezing in our house. 
the heat is on, we're wrapped up in blankets, and wearing sweats.
still freezing. 
to warm up, tovi decided that we should go for a family run. 
on the way home, we stopped by albertson's for an industrial-sized container of aquaphor because this under-the-chin-drool-rash one of us has going on is out of control. 
(i'm not going to name names but you know who you are)

snuggle in bed with mommy and then we were all about Team Nap.

slowly but surely, christmas decorating is happening around here!
cruz spent the afternoon pointing at the ball ornaments and asking, "bubble?"

then, in a brilliant mom move, i discovered that cruz loves to eat peas because they're "bubbles."

he picked all the peas out of his macaroni and gleefully cried "bubble!" before cramming each one into his mouth. he wasn't as excited about the macaroni so someone (not naming any names) had to help him out there. 

hope you had a great saturday! 
and ps-- if you have a great drool-rash solution, will you please share?? 

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