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Archive for December, 2009

The Magic of Hope

Hope is my favorite word.  It stands miles beyond fear, is heavy with gratitude and is so much more than just a simple wish.  It’s a belief that something is truly possible.

Last year, with the birth of our first baby, I focused on the word “savor” as the attitude and characteristic that I wanted my life to reflect – savoring each moment of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting.  This year, I keep coming back to my old friend, hope.  I have a good life, that much is true.  But choosing joy no matter our circumstances has so much to do with our ability to hope.  Maybe we don’t know how a problem will be solved or if it will be solved at all – but through it all there is always hope.

Hope strengthens.  Hope gives courage.  Hope creates joy.  How could it not be my favorite word?

Think about choosing a word of your own to focus on for the next little while.  For inspiration, click Ali’s blog here.

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It Doesn’t Hurt to Try

Back in September our nurses at the Reproductive Care Center called us.  They had just met with the rep for Ferring Pharmaceuticals and had an offer for us.  Ferring was sponsoring an essay contest for those who had used their drug during IVF and were successful in getting a baby.  The nurses, after months of treatments and doctor appointments, were now our friends and thought of us for this contest.

I ended up putting it off until the day it was due a month later and was under the gun to try and write an essay as well as get my doctor’s signature that the information was accurate, gather photos that they needed, blah, blah, blah.  It seemed like a lot to do and I considered just ignoring the whole thing.

Then I realized that I could piggyback off my blog writings – why start from scratch when I had plenty right here at my fingertips!  I sifted through a few key blog posts that reflected what I wanted to say about our invitro process and pieced together what I wanted for my essay.  Our Reproductive Care nurses were fabulous enough to get the right paperwork faxed back to me in the middle of all the other things they had to do that day.  With photos chosen and package compiled, we sent our entry to Ferring just in time.

A few weeks ago we received a Fed Ex letter saying that I had won the essay contest and I just received an email saying that the prize, a $3,000 scholarship for Coleman, had been transferred to his education fund.  We were so excited and I admit, I am very proud of myself for winning.  But it still kind of amazes me that I almost didn’t even try.  Things were busy, there were quite a few steps to follow to enter the contest, I was probably feeling like a regular tired mom that day – and I almost just ignored the opportunity in favor of a nap.

When my niece, Brynne was in junior high she ran for student council every year.  Every year she lost.  Her sophomore year of high school she ran for junior class officer.  Worried that she might be setting herself up for more disappointment, my sister asked her daughter, “What if you don’t win?”  Brynne said, “Mom, I already know what it feels like to lose.  I’d like to see if I can win.”

Brynne - beautiful on the inside and out

That year, after four years of trying, she won.  She won the next year also and had a fabulous experience planning, leading, learning, making friends, and doing all the things that student officers experience.  But what if she had given up?  Watching Brynne taught me a lesson that I still think of often.  Even if you don’t win, it doesn’t hurt to try.

It’s almost the beginning of a new year – now is the time for a fresh start, don’t you think?  Afterall, it doesn’t hurt to try.

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This will be my last download for 2009 – I’m hanging out with my family till the New Year instead of designing!  Happy Holidays to all of you, wherever you are in the world.  Thank you for being a part of 2009 with me – it’s been a wonderful, new journey and I can’t wait to see what 2010 has in store for our little family.

Enjoy the holiday!

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Traditions

Another Christmas first.  It’s been about 35 years since anyone in our little family has sat on Santa’s lap.  I predicted that Cole would not cry but opt for his serious face that he gets when he’s not sure about something.  I was right.  This picture captures him perfectly with his chubby belly showing, his shoes and socks kicked off and the transfixed stare directed toward Santa’s jingle bells.  I love every part of him and this journey we’re sharing together.

I’m learning that starting traditions and renewing old ones is what having children is all about as we look at life always with the thought of what is best for Cole.  Some things we want to do exactly like our parents did because we know it helped us become who we are today.  Some things we want to tweak or change because it fits our family better.

But whether we’re talking about Christmastime or our family habits that last all year, one thing is for sure – traditions take on a whole new meaning when children are a part of them.  We are grateful beyond words for this new phase of our lives.  We were late in getting started but are embracing the adventure of parenthood the best we can and establishing the traditions that will help our little one have a happy life as he becomes all that he is meant to be.

Here’s to family traditions – at the holiday season and every other day of the year.  Enjoy!

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Two Inches

Monday at the gym there were only two of us in our class and Jim had us work…and work….and work our arms.  Here I thought I was doing great at Jim’s Gym but no, I was so sore from that workout.  So when Wednesday rolled around and we had to do some more arm exercises along with other things, it was brutal.  I admit that I was lame.  No, I did not rock my workout.

But to make matters worse, Jim is working on a new nickname for me.  I’m no longer the slowest in the class so along with “Speedy,” he feels the need to add to my name.  “Grandma” has been tossed around a few times.  I’m so sure, Jim!  I do not act like a grandma just because I don’t tap the floor with the medicine ball on that sit and twist exercise.

But like I said, on Wednesday I did not rock my workout.  I used only an 8 pound weight for the tricep behind the head things and had to take breaks during the dips and curls.  I was not at my best, that’s for sure.  So Jim started working on a new nickname and came up with this:

“I’m going to start calling you ‘Speedy Two Inches Hall’ because you’re only moving the weights two inches instead of 90 degrees!  It doesn’t roll off the tongue easily so I’ll have to think about it – but something along those lines.”

You’re right, Jim.  It doesn’t roll off the tongue so give it up.  And in the process I will choose to ignore the fact that whenever someone else didn’t bend their arms 90-degrees that you said, “You’re doing it the Kolette way.  You gotta go more than two inches!”

Yes, I do know that bending my arms 90-degrees is my goal instead of two inches that you claim I was moving.  And yes, I do know what a 90-degree angle is. You even asked Ken, a contractor in our class, to bring in one of his big square rulers to demonstrate a 90-degree angle to those who haven’t passed fifth grade math.  Seriously, we know what a 90-degree angle is, Jim.

So my final plea goes out to Ken.  Don’t do it!  Leave the ruler and Jim’s thoughts of annoying us even more at home!  We’re counting on you!

One thing is for sure though, I actually feel some muscles in my arms these days.  I must be doing something right.

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I think it goes without saying that we are loving our first Christmas with a little one in the house.  Things are just different this year.  We find ourselves wanting to do things that maybe we didn’t care about before simply because we want to start our own Christmas traditions with Coleman.

Over the years we have never collected very many ornaments for a tree.  In fact, we often didn’t even have a tree because either our space was too small or we were going to be gone for the holidays and I didn’t want to bother with it.  Last year, when we moved into our new home we got a tree that could last us for a long time.  I looked at the our ornaments that we had saved from our childhood or gathered from places we had traveled and it was a meager collection at best.

We have heard of many of you who get one ornament for your children or grandchildren each year to add to their collections and have decided to do the same in our family.  We like things to have meaning of some sort and so I hunted and hunted for something that would represent our little man this year.  In my search I found the following stocking letters from Anthropologie and immediately fell in love.  I knew that they would be perfect for his “first ornament.”  They didn’t have an “O” and so I decided to substitute it with a round ornament we already had.  I think I like it even better this way than if it matched.

So here’s to new ornaments, new traditions and new memories.  Cole likes to crawl under the tree on his way from one room to the other and likes to look at himself in the shiny ornaments on the bottom branches but so far we’ve been safe from any “baby destruction.”  And trust me, we’re not giving him any ideas!

Have a fabulous week and consider creating a collection of your ornaments this year.  I used three storyboard collage templates and placed them onto one document to create my ornament layout in photoshop.  Love those storyboards!

Enjoy!

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I’m a water girl because I have practiced it.  I never really liked the taste of water but have taught myself to like it because it’s good for me.  So I always have a water with me.  A couple of years ago my mother-in-law asked me to design a label for custom water bottles for the Hall family.  Just like a business or company can create their own custom waters, a family can as well.  Since she’s the Hall family and we’re the Hall family, I design the labels and order custom water bottles when she does.

I know it sounds a little over the top, but you’d be surprised at how inexpensive it really is.  So we have designer water.  It makes me happy to see something that I have created in a format that I can carry around with me and share with others.  Plus, it’s a great conversation piece.

This year for the holidays, we are giving away cases of water to those who are close to us.  It’s practical (which I love) and unique and fun.  I’m pretty sure people haven’t received water for Christmas before.

I even took a case to Jim’s Gym – I can’t think of a more fitting gift to give to Jim, the Water Nazi.  Drink up, everyone!

For our download, I’m giving you a version of our Christmas water label to use in your holiday frame or on a card or whatever you want to do with it.  When I was in high school I had a friend named Mary Little so whenever I see this phrase I still think of her. Tis’ the season for creativity…for me, I’ll enjoy this download on my water this month.

Cheers!

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Twinkle

I love light.  I like windows with the shades open.  I like sunshine.  I love things that reflect and shine and have that iridescent quality.  And so it comes as no surprise that I love holiday lights.  We need help to get our lights up on the house and I ask the company that does it for us to make sure that we are first on the list for getting them installed.  I love the twinkle on the trees and the strands that follow the length of the roofline.  To me, light represents hope and peace and celebration.

We have a neighborhood Christmas party tomorrow at our local church and there is virtually no budget for it.  So my friend Nikki and I came up with an inexpensive but beautiful luminary centerpiece for each of the tables.  The beauty of this idea is that it can be used anytime throughout the year – just change the color and the cut-out design and you have a whole new decoration.

We used some of my designs that I have created for the Cricut.  I admit that this project is easiest with a Cricut, but you can adapt this idea if you do not have access to one.  Our example pictured is using a 12×12 sheet of cardstock but any size will work – I think that making them 6 or 8 inches high would look really great.  Nikki used the Provo Craft Design Studio software to create an overall pattern for a 12×12 sheet and cut them with the Cricut.

Next, I used scallop scissors along the top edge of each sheet.  To create the circular shape of the luminary, I tried multiple strategies.  I finally decided that the best way to create the cylinder was to keep it simple.  I punched two holes on each side of the sheet, about 2″ apart and threaded a wide ribbon through them, tying a bow to secure.  I didn’t used adhesive because I liked the way the edges lifted just a little bit where I tied them together.

Once the luminary is tied together, place it on a plate to give it more bulk and dimension.  I found these glass plates at Wal-Mart for $1 each.  I got enough of them to use for parties or get-togethers in the future.  You can also add greenery or cranberries around the base of your luminary.  Use a battery-powered tea light in the center and you’re done.

Can you see how this project would be easy to adapt for other holidays or events?  Use black, orange or lime green paper, string some spider webbing over the top and you have e a spooky Halloween decoration.  Use pink paper, pink tulle and place a tiara at the base for the perfect princess theme.  How about using team or school colors?  Adding confetti or paper flowers around the base?  You could even spray paint them silver or gold for a metallic look.  I’m seeing endless possibilities here.

Share ideas that you have for adapting this project.  How would you do it without the use of a Cricut?  What other inexpensive ideas do you have to make this project your own?

Enjoy all that twinkles and shines this holiday season.

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I’ve been out of the country for the last week visiting my parents in the Dominican Republic.  As I sat on the beach and visited the sites I didn’t think once about this blog – I just spent time with my family.

So now I am back and I thought I would give you something for Download Day.  My mom is not super confident with the computer and asked me to help her learn how to download the files that I offer here each week.  At the last minute I had packed an 8×10 frame I had.  It came with a mat that was fit for a 5×7 photo.

As I was showing her how to download last week’s image (just double click on it, Mom – it will come up), I realized that if we wanted to fit the smaller version of the image into her 5×7 opening that it wouldn’t fit correctly.  We needed more room at the bottom of the image to have the paper fill the whole space.

Therefore, I am going to rework the holiday frame downloads from now on and give you a little more wiggle room to work with.  Hopefully this will help you as well as my mom down there in the DR.

Enjoy the download and I’ll share more of the DR soon!

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Cole @ 10 Months

I put up the Christmas tree yesterday and a flood of memories came rushing back of what I was doing just one year ago.  I was 7 months pregnant, feeling good but different in my new body, and wondering what motherhood was going to be like.  Now, just 12 months later, I can hardly remember life without Coleman.  I find myself living my life through his eyes.  Wondering what he is seeing and thinking and caring about.  Plus, I can’t get enough of all the signs around us, like his dump truck under the tree, that say, “there’s a little one in the house.”

While last month was a time of discovering new skills, this month seems to be all about trying to refine those skills.  Cole, each day you get a little more confident and a little more independent.  You crawl easily and getting yourself from crawling to sitting and back again is a piece of cake for you.  You pull yourself up on anything and everything and are even brave enough to stand with just one hand holding on or leaning against whatever is propping you up.

You hang out with Dad and like to explore his wheelchair.  It’s the best toy we have and lucky for us, it’s always with us!  You have figured out that when you hear his chair “click” that it means he is going to move so you let go and sit yourself down on the floor.  You definitely think that getting rides with Dad is how everyone should live their lives as you kick your leg to let him know it’s time to start cruising.

Dad has taught you how to share yogurt-covered pretzels with him and you are a pro at biting off the yogurt while you leave the pretzel behind.  You two definitely work out your own systems of doing things that surprises me sometimes.  We never imagined that your Dad would be able to be as involved in your life and your care as he is and it has been an amazingly wonderful gift to watch you grow together in your relationship.  It’s clear that you make a good team.

Coleman, you have decided that being cooped up in your jumparoo isn’t as fun as crawling and climbing so we’re handing it off to your cousin Jack to play with next.  This makes it more challenging to have you hang out with Dad while his aide is getting him ready in the mornings because you want to get in his way the whole time.  You sit on the floor next to your Dad while he is getting his hair washed or on his lap while he’s brushing his teeth, not letting the aide stand in his regular spot without having to work around you.  But I’m grateful that Daddy’s aides are patient with you and let you be a part of that time with your Dad.

You still like your big wooden beads to play with and chase but what you really love to do with them is put them on your finger and crawl around.  The bead tap-tap-taps on the floor as you get from one place to the next.  You have also learned to throw – including playing your first games of catch.  Our neighbor taught you that and you laughed and laughed when you figured out how to toss things back and forth with someone.  You think that is the funniest game ever.

We’re working on eating table food more and more and with your four teeth, you are figuring out how to chew more things.  I think you get impatient with all the chewing, though and want to eat some baby food to get the meal done.

You loved being in the middle of all the action during Thanksgiving at Grandma and Grandpa Hall’s house.  All of our family was there and you crawled around watching and playing with the other kids.  That’s where you learned how to push the big trucks along the floor and Grandma even let you take a Tonka truck home with you to play with.

Just like your parents, you love all things Mac.  Your favorite toy is Mom’s iPhone.  You know how to touch the screen to make things move and we just have to watch to make sure you don’t call someone accidentally.

You love baths and squeal with excitement when I start the water going and take your clothes off.  Putting on your diaper and pjs is a totally different experience as you squirm and cry and wrestle with me.  I’m usually sweating before we’re done with that fifteen minutes of our day because you put up such a fight, you little turkey!

You have been doing all of your tricks for Grandma and Grandpa Coleman on Skype and I send them videos from my iPhone all the time so they can be a part of everything you are doing even though they live in the Dominican Republic.  They love you and miss you so much but are grateful you have your Grandma and Grandpa Hall nearby to help out.  We’re thankful that we have parents who are willing to serve the Lord even if it means sacrificing their time with their grandchildren to do it.  They are great examples to us.

Coleman, I love that this is your first Christmas and our first with a little munchkin around.  The holidays will definitely be different from now on and we can’t wait to live it up with you.

We love you with all of our hearts and feel so blessed and lucky to have you.

XOXO forever,

Mom

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