Monday, December 29, 2008

Stopping by the woods on a snowy evening....


What could be better than a winter jaunt with the whole family? Can you find all eleven of us?
Photography provided by flutter. Wardrobe provided by Pendleton.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Scene from Lydia's first christmas....


I haven't gotten around to downloading our photos from this year. Too busy hanging out at the casino eating all you can eat Alaska King Crab with my family.....

On Christmas Eve, as Shane and I were tucking Lydia into bed she reminded us that she did NOT want Santa to wake her up. "Just tell him to tip toe in the living room and leave me lollipops". That he did.

The next day she informed us that she is Mary, Daddy is Joesph, Mommy is a shepherd and Dolce (my brother's Chihuahua) is the baby Jesus. :)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My Favorite Nativity Scene


I have to admit that I am not a fan of many modern religious paintings. For the most part they are a little too Thomas Kinkade for me. However, I was moved by this painting of the nativity by Walter Rane entitled"Behold the Lamb of God". I studied a lot of art in college and saw hundreds of nativity scenes depicted through the ages. This is the first piece that depicts how I envision the moments after Christ was born. I find it lovely in its simplicity.
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A request: My sister Abby and her husband David are trying to get to Spokane to spend Christmas with our family. It will be the first Christmas in 8 years that we will all be together. However, their flight was canceled due to weather and they were told at the earliest, they would be able to fly in on Wednesday, but maybe not until after Christmas. They decided that instead of spending Christmas in the airport, they would risk some very extreme weather and drive 500 miles to get here. Please keep them in your prayers.
12/22 Update - they made it in after driving in white-out conditions for 14 hours. Thank you for your prayers.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Gift To You

The Mace Bundt Cake is the definitive Holiday dessert in my family. We make several throughout the season and it is my most requested baked good. It is my Grandma Louise's recipe and she was generally known as the best cook in the world. (In certain circles.) When Shane tasted it for the first time he said that it actually tasted like Christmas. I would pay top dollar for a candle that smells like this cake right out of the oven. It is great with Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate in the evening, or as a Christmas breakfast alongside sweet berries. Enjoy!

Mace Bundt Cake

(Do not preheat oven)

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature + 4 TBS for pan
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 TBS Ground Mace (found in spice section of almost any grocery store.)
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • Cream the one cup butter; add sugar gradually; beat until very light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs one at a time- beating well after each addition.
  • Add dry ingredients to blend, add nuts
  • Grease Bundt pan using 3-4 TBS butter (You REALLY want to get that pan greased up.)
Bake at 300 degrees 50-60 minutes. Watch carefully!
Turn out immediately. Serve room temperature.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Power of Prayer....Sorry!

Shane and I are lovers of the snow. There is nothing that we crave more than a cozy evening by the fire watching the snow lazily drift by. Somehow we have ended up in the South where a mere mention of flurries closes schools and public offices. (I am not exaggerating. Just a chance of flurries.) This year we are spending our Christmas holiday in my hometown of Spokane, Washington. We have been looking forward to this vacation all year. In the sweltering heat of August it was our snowy little oasis. Lydia and I have finally arrived. Shane will join us for a few days, but Lydia and I will be here for 3 weeks. Three weeks of hot chocolate, thick sweaters and catching snow on our tongues. At least that was the hope. For this to be the vacation we dreamed of, we must have snow. Snow is not optional. With a new baby on the way, the hellish 14 hour flight to get here will not be feasible anymore. We have to make this Christmas count.

Starting last spring Shane and I started to pray for snow. Literally. It wasn't every night, but often amidst our family prayers, a request for a snowy Christmas was made.

Monday Lydia and I arrived in Washington to see a little sift of snow frosting the ground. Hardly anything, but I thought, better than nothing. The next day it started to snow. By Wednesday we had a idyllic winter wonderland. I ecstatically called Shane with the news. "Bring warm clothes! It is freezing!" I warned. I took a walk outside to capture some of the majesty on film. For me, life doesn't get much better than the absolute silence that permeates the air after a heavy snow. The crunch of my boots, the crisp air chilling my cheeks. Total bliss. I bundled Lydia up and she ventured out for a "special treat" and began feasting on the bounty. Yum. Even I grabbed a handful and started munching. My sister Emily and I believed that if you wished hard enough that you could make the snow taste like chocolate ice cream. I swear it worked. At least when I was 7.


Today. Today is not like yesterday. We have had 19.5 inches in 24 hours. The snow just will not stop. Today the entire city is at a standstill. EVERYTHING is closed. I mean everything. The hospital, the electric company, of course the schools. The only thing I have heard is still up and running is the jail. (And the emergency room) My parents have lived here for over 30 years. They both say they have never seen a snow like this.

Spokane is ready for snow. This is Washington. We don't have snow days willy nilly. My parent's home is in the mountains and we own a mammoth snow plow to allow us to escape our winding driveway. We own one. That is how prepared we are over here. Last night my Dad could hardly get the plow to move. This morning he greeted Lydia with a hug and said "You know. This is all your mommy and daddy's fault. They prayed so hard for snow, this is what we got."

Still, I am in heaven. I am inside my warm childhood home with the snow filling each windowsill. My Christmas shopping is done. My mom and I are going to spend the afternoon wrapping gifts and baking before the rest of my family arrives tomorrow. With Christmas music playing, the fire burning and Lydia joyously playing with the dog on the floor, it still doesn't get much better than this. I just hope the planes can land tomorrow. I'll start praying.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Our Tree(s)

I will begin by saying that Shane and I are all about the real Christmas tree. Not only that, but we drive to North Carolina to cut ours down from our favorite mountain tree farm. Blame it on the pregnancy exhaustion, but this year I wanted a break. We decided to go artificial. Of course, we plan on this being a one time thing, so I didn't want to invest in a pricey tree. Instead I thought of these three smaller trees that have been in our attic since a Hobby Lobby 90% off sale a few years back.

Since we were breaking the mold, I thought we could play around with the color scheme. Purple and silver replaced our usual red and green. I'm glad these ornaments finally made an appearance. When Shane and I first got engaged we planned on a December wedding. We eventually postponed the wedding until the next spring, but only after my mom and I purchased every lavender ornament we could get our hands on.

I'm not totally loving our new look, there is something to be said about classic tradition, but it is a fun change. Kind of romantic. In the years to come our tree will be draped with handmade macaroni ornaments and strung popcorn. Most likely all the decor will be on the bottom half of the tree, where eager little hands can reach. This year, the grown ups are still in charge. - Well, kind of. Lydia tipped two of the trees over 5 minutes after we had finished decorating. Wish I had taken a photo of the trees before that happened. :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A moment from our house

video

Shane was doing his best to keep Lydia distracted while I was wrapping gifts....

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Worst Gift Ever.

Let me begin by saying that I have been the recipient of some wonderful Christmas gifts. My family is fantastic about finding sweet and sentiment gifts, as are my friends. While Christmas is about giving, no one can deny that receiving a heartfelt gift is a joy unlike any other. Of course, we don't always receive gifts that give us that warm fuzzy feeling.

A few years ago I was working at a law firm and they announced that they would be holding an optional Secret Santa Exchange. The limit was $30. I enthusiastically signed up. The name I chose was a receptionist who I didn't know very well, but I knew had a well developed sense of style. I searched for something that she would love and settled on a cashmere scarf I discovered on sale. I wrapped it beautifully, adorning the package with candy canes and a glittering ornament.

The day of the exchange came and everyone was excited. The law firm was a relatively formal environment, so something fun and social brightened every one's day. We watched as each person opened their gift. Gift cards, jewelry, DVDs - each gift brought a smile and a genuine thanks. The receptionist gushed at the scarf. Soon it was my turn. I found my gift in the pile. It was small and wrapped in newspaper. - Obviously from a man :). When the gift was opened I just stared at it in confusion. Suddenly the co-worker who had given the gift to me erupted in laughter. "Awesome huh?! Sperm Candy!". Yes indeed. My Secret Santa had given me a box of candy shaped like sperm. The $2.49 price tag from Spencer's Gifts was still attached. I turned the box over thinking maybe he had attached a gift card. Nope. Just the sperm.

As the rest of the group squirmed in the mist of this gentleman's uproarious laughter, I thought quickly what I should do it this situation. I really couldn't feign enthusiasm without looking like an idiot. I put the candy in my purse, smiled and replied, "Thanks Paul. I definitely wasn't expecting that." The rest of the group gave a small chuckle and we continued with the exchange.

That gift sucked pretty badly. Not only was I totally jipped, but I was embarrassed too. Though it may have worked in my favor because my Christmas bonus was bigger that year than I expected, very possibly because the head partner of the firm was witness to the exchange. Maybe he felt worry for me. I took some of the extra bonus and made myself feel better with a cashmere scarf for myself.

So that is my worst gift ever. What is yours?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008



One of our favorite Christmas traditions is going for Family Home Evening to see Rock City's Enchanted Garden of Lights. Christmas music, kettle corn, an hour and a half walk through gorgeous Christmas lights, decorating breathtaking natural caves and rock formations. Lydia loved it. Except when she saw Santa. She preceded to run the other direction.


For the record, that first picture isn't our Christmas card. Just a random collage I was playing around with. (Mom: to see it bigger, just click on it.)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Dear Santa....



I would really like this dollhouse for my daughter. But $699?! I don't think so. Hopefully Santa, you have one in stock you can leave under our tree. Just make sure NOT to send this little gem.....



Had I not snapped this photo myself, I would not have believed that this was a real toy.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

This weekend

Don't forget that this weekend is the Handcrafted Holidays Art and Gift show. It is being held at 9400 Magical View Drive, Chattanooga, TN 37421 (the house pictured above). Come and enjoy some fun shopping and refreshments. The first 25 people through the door on both days will receive a gift! We will be awarding some amazing door prizes as well. Don't miss it!

Monday, December 1, 2008

We're having a baby!

Shane and I are thrilled to announce that we are expecting baby #2, due June 2nd. As of today, am 14 weeks along. I am so very excited about the timing of this baby. My sister Emily is due with her first baby, a little boy, 10 weeks before me. If my baby is a boy, they will of course be best friends. If it is a girl, then Lydia will have her fondest dream come true and get a little baby sister.

I have to say that I am surprising myself by announcing my pregnancy this early. With Lydia I didn't tell anyone until I was 20 weeks. Of course, with Lydia I didn't really show until 24 weeks. With this pregnancy, I started showing a couple weeks ago.

That hasn't been the only difference between the pregnancies. Actually, I am having a hard time thinking of any similarities with my pregnancies. With Lydia I didn't even suspect that I was pregnant until I was over 8 weeks along. We had been trying for 2 years to get pregnant, and I had just recently decided to stop taking fertility drugs to give my body (and hormones) a rest. A couple skipped periods weren't out of the norm. In fact, the only reason I even thought I might be pregnant was when (warning! This may be an over-share) I was stepping out the the shower and Shane's mouth dropped open. "Natalie. What is going on with your boobs?!" No joke, they grew two cup sizes overnight. I went to the doctor that day for a blood test :)

This time around, I was pretty sure I hadn't even missed a period, but I had been so completely nauseated for days, I needed to know the cause. I can't explain how ecstatic I was when I had a positive pregnancy test. I mentioned that we tried for 2 years to conceive Lydia. So many negative pregnancy tests and disappointments. This time around, we had only been trying for 3 months. It was such a relief to know it wasn't going to be so difficult this time around.

In the same token, I realized that I was probably only 4 weeks along and I was already sick and totally exhausted. With Lydia I felt great my entire pregnancy. I worked up to the day before I delivered, only taking one sick day the entire 9 months. I thought I was just one of those lucky women who had easy pregnancies. Apparently not.

I will say that I feel good now. I am still tired, but I try to take a nap everyday while Lydia sleeps and that helps immensely. However, for the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy I was miserable. The worst of it hit during a two week period that Shane had crazy travel. He was home only one night in two weeks. I seriously had no idea what to do. I was so sick I could hardly get out of bed. Any smell put me over. I still had a (very needy) two year old who needed to be dressed, feed 3 meals a day, played with.... motherhood has no sick days. My house was completely destroyed. I was able to make food (barely), but clean it up was way too much time standing. I played on the floor with Lydia, me completely prostrate, but cleaning up was out of the question. Laundry? Don't make me laugh. My "morning sickness" lasted from the time I woke up until around 8pm. After that, I felt just well enough to do a few dishes, brush my teeth and then go to bed. I would have called a cleaning service, but I think that they have to be able to see the floor if they are going to vacuum and mop. My mom was able to come out a couple weeks after I was officially in the bell jar.

When I was 6 weeks along, I had my first doctors appointment and ultrasound. Lydia was there to see it and she got a special copy of the ultrasound just for her. My doctor also gave me what may be the greatest gift you can give a pregnant women. He said I wasn't 6 weeks along as my calculations would indicate. I was NINE weeks. Oh, that may have been one of the greatest days ever. Finding out I was 3 weeks further into my pregnancy, only 3 weeks from the end of my first trimester. Hallelujah.

Now I am just enjoying this blessed second trimester. I still can't believe we are going to do this all again. The sleepless nights, the constant feedings....the sweet baby smell, the soft baby cuddle, tiny hands, tiny feet. Putting our little newborn in Lydia's eager arms. Just thinking about it makes me smile. And cry.....just a little.



46 PEOPLE HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY:


Luke and Hailie Girl said...
How fantastic for you guys! Congratulations!
Brooke said...
Congratulations! I'm so happy for you guys!
Are You Serious! said...
♥ Congratulations! How completely and totally exciting!!! That cracks me up about the boob thing!!! :)
tristanjh said...
Congratulations...I am really happy for you!
Lilith Silvermane said...
Soooo happy for you both! Lydia is going to be a GREAT big sister :) Congrats!
ZogLady said...
Oh congratulations!!! :D What exciting news!!! Side note: When I was pregnant with my second child I too was exhausted way mroe then I thought I would be. I had the prefect pregnancy the first time around so this threw me off. As well, I had such horrible 'morning' sickness that I ended up in the hospital. We're lucky in Canada as there's a 'little white pill with the naked pregnant woman on it' that I can take and it cures all! Amazing med's! I found with my second that if I kept some chocolate by the bed, I coudl take a nibble when I got up in the morning. Apparently dark chocolate helps with morning sickness. Helped me! AND I got to bite chocolate! Yay! *L* And made it through the days (my oldest was 18 months when my second was born!). Best wishes! :D
Whimsical Creations said...
Congrats!!! How exciting for you!
Artsy-Craftsy Merchant said...
Congratulations!!!! Great holiday news!
Threeundertwo said...
Wow! Congratulations! What wonderful news. I'm so happy for your family!
Jen R. said...
Congratulations! Another gorgeous baby is on the way. I had a horribe first pregnancy, that gives me hope that maybe my next one wont be so bad!
April said...
oh my gosh- your life will change so much with two- and I hope this child is calm and sleeps all the time...
lisagh said...
What wonderful news! Best wishes to you.
Tanja said...
What exciting news, congratulations to you and yours!
kristi lee said...
So happy for you! I'm glad you didn't wait until Monday to announce. Secrets are REALLY HARD for me to keep...especially with all the people we'll be seeing this weekend. OHHHH....MaryJane came by tonight and she thinks we're going to have a CRAZY crowd. She said she wouldn't be surprised if it was anywhere from 300-500 people! PRAYING she's right.
Gilbert Family said...
Congrats! That is really exciting. I can't believe you were able to keep it a secret that long. I was on the phone telling my family 30 minutes after I found out (and I was only about 5 or 6 weeks along) I really wanted to hear those same words "you are further than you think" at my first appointment too but I didn't have such luck! This has been a very LONG 20 weeks for me. Are you going to find out what you are having?
Misty said...
Congratulations! I am sure this baby will be equally as gorgeous as Lydia!
Natalie Jane said...
Oh yes - we will be finding out the sex. Hopefully right around 20 weeks.
beba said...
Yay!!!!!
Paige said...
Congratulations! Having two is quite a ride!
zoe hunter said...
Congrats!!We have two lil ones coming in our family too!! How exciting..:)
Cheryl Lage said...
Oh congratulations to you! Found you via Lit & Laundry...you have a LOVELY (and growing!) family. :) Best and blessings-
Tamara said...
A big congratulations to you and your hubby! What a blessing and enjoy the ride :)
Sharla said...
Congratulations! And great post!! Reading this actually makes me want to get pregnant again and my twins are only 19 months old. Then again....maybe not. ;)
Coloradolady said...
Congratulations! Your post brought back lots of memories of my first pregnancy. I was so sick I thought I was going to die. (for 9 months) sick everyday....I had a boy. The second time, I felt good, almost all the time....I had a girl. Best wishes for you and your family. I am happy for you!
Hannah LaRue said...
Congratulations. Cant wait to hear if the baby is a boy or girl.
Better Home Interiors said...
Yay!! There is nothing as sweet as a little one so fresh from heaven! I'm so excited for you. I've got 3 and wonder still how the time can fly so quickly!
Cindy said...
Congrats!! Baby #2 is so very exciting and totally different because it no longer is just you and the baby. You'll do awesome. Don't be afraid to ask for drugs after this baby gets here : ) They help get you through the first few months. I'm glad to hear that you are onto the blessed 2nd trimester and over the yucky pukes and tiredness. Enjoy your pregnancy. It's exciting to hear you and Emily will have babies so close together. Eric you know just had a boy in September and we are having a boy in a few weeks, so I'm so glad they will have each other at family gatherings because it's been a long stretch of girls before that.
emily said...
Congratulations!! That is so exciting. I'm predicting you are going to have a boy since your pregnancies are so different. I was horribly sick with #1 (boy) and felt great with #2 (girl). Congrats again, I hope things go smoothly!
The Shabby Princess said...
Congratulations, Congratulations, Congratulations!!!!
MaggieM said...
Congratulations Natalie! I am very happy for you and your family. Here's to a smooth pregnancy:)
Heidi said...
this is fabulous news, congrats and hope that you feel well the rest of the time.
stephland3 said...
Congrats! That is so exciting, I would love to have another baby. I think 3 is good for now:)
The Linabooty's said...
Congrats Natalie and Fam! So happy for you! Can totally relate to the trying a long time for the first one and being so relieved when the second comes easier. Now just beware of how EASY the third could come:) Good Luck and Rest!
Barbara said...
Congrats to you and your family. I was reading some other posts about the sickness. I was totally opposite. Horrible, horrible sickness 24/7 for the entire 9 months and had a girl. She was soooo worth it though!
just me (Angie) said...
congratulations! I am so happy for you guys.
Jennifer said...
CONGRATS!!!! So exciting!
heather said...
yay!! I am happy for you. Congratulations! I wish you an easy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
Madeline and Family said...
Congradulations! I am so happy for you.
Becky said...
Congratulations! What a blessing! My boys are 26 months apart and I think they'll be the best of friends. And like you, my first pregnancy was a dream, but my second was a nightmare! I am so happy that he is here and healthy-I now have 2 beautiful, perfect children, and that's enough for me. :) Congrats!!
jenstamps said...
Congratulations! What better gift for Lydia ~ Big sister!
The Todd Family said...
That is so exciting Natalie!!! I was looking at your Christmas pictures (SO cute by the way!) and thinking that Lydia just LOOKED like she needed to be holding a younger sibling. ;) Good luck! It's a ride!
Josh and Lindsay said...
Congratulations!! I got way excited for you when I read the news.
Adam Archibald Family said...
Congratulations!!! That's wonderful! Lydia can come play with Brynli anytime if you need a break, nap, anything.
LOLiTA said...
Awww...Natalie! Congrats girl! How exciting!
?MomOf4? said...
Congratulations! How exciting!
Randi said...
Hi, I wandered over from Mormon Mommy Blogs. Congratulations! How exciting! And P.S. Your daughter is gorgeous! Absolutely adorable.
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