My first Christmas at the Tedesco house, I was thrilled to see that Jason had a medallion ornament with his fourth grade (I think?) picture on his parent's tree that almost matched the one from my parent's tree. I don't think I had seen any pictures of him from when he was school-aged before I saw that ornament. Wouldn't it be great to have a tree dedicated to just photo ornaments from years past? I am going to try to make some photo ornaments each year for the next few years so that I will have a nice supply for a picture tree. We always just had one Christmas tree growing up, but my mom blew my mind this year by getting not one, not two, but three! trees. Since seeing how festive each tree looks in her house, I've been pondering the idea of getting more than one tree in a few years. (Not this year because we have a busy boy crawling all over the house and our one tree will be placed in our front den with the pocket door safely closed during the day.)  Unpacking ornaments to decorate the tree has always been one of my favorite Christmas traditions. Ornaments that my mom made when we were kids, ornaments that we made when we were kids (Chris made an amazing cyclops gingerbread man when he was five.), ornaments from vacations, our yearly ornaments from my Grandma Dee, they all bring back special memories. One of my favorite types of ornaments are photo ornaments.  I can't think of the last time I looked at a photo album, but I know that every year at Christmas, I cherish seeing my favorite people in our photo ornaments. Pinterest had lots of great ideas for DIY photo ornaments, but I found this site had the best ideas for capturing memories each year. I've already ordered some snowflakes and can't wait to get started making memories.

Also, a few years ago, I got the idea to take all of our photo booth pictures from the last few weddings we had attended and use them in some beautiful snowflake ornaments I bought at Kohl's to give as stocking stuffers to my mom and Jason's mom. The great thing about photo booth pictures are that we are always dressed up for them, the black and white is pretty flattering, and the little pictures are the perfect size for ornaments. Below are two that I gifted my mom and dad for their trees.  We have the one of me biting Jason's leg on our tree because that's a memory I definitely want to relive every year.


Wrap It Up

One of the things that I remember most from my first Christmas at the Tedesco house was Jason's mom's signature wrapping style.  Every single edge of wrapping paper was secured with scotch tape so that the same amount of effort that went in to wrapping the present had to go in to opening it too. With every present I successfully opened, I felt not only gratitude but also a sense of accomplishment.

Now that I am a mom, I've been thinking about developing my own signature wrapping style. I know some families use a different wrapping paper for each family member at Christmas, and I've seen other people get real fancy with lace. I think I've found something much simpler. For Father's Day, I used wrapping paper scattered with Happy Birthday in different fonts, but of course, I took the time to write "Father's" over every "Birth" in a black Sharpie. Then, when Maggie's birthday came around, I pulled the Sharpie out again to personalize her paper with an inside joke about our new favorite board book.  So when my sister and I were perusing the wrapping section at Target looking for Christmas tags last weekend, I was immediately drawn to this craft paper, and I think it's going to be my new signature style. Perfect for personalizing with Sharpies and stamps and paint and whatever else I have around at the time, every bow and ribbon will always match, and I'll never need tags. I bought every roll they had.
Also, although I love shopping for and wrapping presents, I look forward to the day when I'm a great grandma and can assign shopping and wrapping duties to the grandkids. Thanks for the PJs, Grandma Cil!

A Perfect Way to Start the Week

I have a family member (who shall remain nameless) who likes to ask one particular question at annual  Christmas soirĂ©es upon meeting someone for the first time. It's a highly personal and very technical question that garners immediate scrutiny and judgement upon the answerer. Because I know many of you are working hard and might be struggling to answer questions of what to give, what to bake, what to wear, what to bring and don't need so much added pressure this Christmas, I'm presenting the question here for your prior consideration just in case it comes up at your next shindig. 

That question is: What are your top five all-time favorite, must-watch Christmas movies? 

Mine, in a very particular order, are as follows:

1. Love Actually
2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (I've been told that only full-length, non-animated movies are accepted when answering the question at parties, but I don't care. I love this movie enough to break that rule.)
3. Elf
4. The Family Stone
5. Home Alone

Feel free to scrutinize and judge. I'm fully prepared to defend myself over a glass of wine and some appetizers. And if you're up to it, leave your own favorites in the comments. I'd love to see some other lists and scrutinize from the comfort of my couch.

Also, just remember, "If you want more, if you want more, more, more. Jump."

Happy Monday! I hope your week is filled with answers to all your questions and many reasons to jump... for my love!


After an entire morning of battling Will to wipe his nose and reminding Lola, "No lick," I started wondering if I just let both of them be, would an acceptable (if not somewhat gross) symbiosis come about? I have tried tissues, warm wet washcloths, burp cloths, my fingers (such a glamorous life, I lead), and the kid just does not want his nose wiped. Depending on how naps go today, I might be tempted to let Lola just go for it.

Also, I googled "wiping baby's nose" this morning because I really do need some reinforcement, and I learned wiping down will help get more out of the nose and avoid chapped cheeks and using nipple cream can help with any chapping that does occur. And now, I am done writing the grossest post yet.

Looking Forward

There are days in the winter (I know it's not technically winter, but it's only going to be seven degrees tonight... so...) when I just CANNOT get warm no matter what. Jason worries that there is something wrong with me because of course, he is just lounging in shorts, warm and comfy, while I am wearing three layers and a blanket, shivering. Over the last few winters, in order to try to make me more comfortable (and save on heating), he has bought me a heated blanket and Hot Booties, but what I've found works best is flannel. After nights and nights of warming my icy feet on Jason's leg for minutes and minutes before finally getting back out of bed (Is there anything worse than having to get out of bed when you are already cold?) to put socks on, I finally remembered to put our flannel sheets on the bed, and oh my is it cozy and warm again. I know many people dread the cold dark season of winter, but there really is so much to which to look forward. Now that I am warm enough to keep my fingers outside of the covers, I'd like to share all that I am looking forward to...

Seeing: which toys William really gets into playing with after Christmas morning. The kid has been equally amused by his music table and a kitchen spoon.

Hearing: first words.

Tasting: tacino, lumpia, siapao, and adobo.  Over the year's, Jason's mom has trained me up to want and cook Filipino food at Christmas.  Last year, we made it for Christmas Eve, and this year we are planning to do the same. 

Feeling: warm inside when it's icy outside.

Smelling: our little family's first live Christmas tree. We're going to pick one out the weekend right before Christmas.

Drinking: Tall Caramel Brulee lattes with one and half pumps (that's half the normal amount) of syrup. Forget Pumpkin Spice. These are where it's at.

Wearing: flannel shirts under grandpa sweaters and puffy vests, basically my day to day momiform.

Reading: The Dinner, The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, and The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic. Copies of all three have not only been recommended but also given to me over the last week, and winter is the perfect time to snuggle up and enjoy a good book. If you are looking for a rec, my favorite book of 2013 was Where'd You Go Bernadette. I read it during the summer, but I actually think it'd be a great winter read.

Watching: Elf, The Holiday, The Family Stone, The Grinch, and Love Actually at home and any movie in a movie theater.  Such a luxury these days, but Jason and I are going to make it happen. 

Playing: in our bright new playroom all winter long. Play dates are welcome! 

Making: crocheted baskets.  I have the supplies, but I need my mom to help me get started. I know we'll find the time this winter. 

Also, MOST OF ALL, I'm joyfully expecting the celebration of the birth of Jesus and taking time to let my heart prepare Him room... and heaven and nature sing. 

(This post inspired a bit by Pip. )

The Ultimate Nursery Item

The nesting ottoman!  Do you already have one in your house? (My sister Maggie did, and I must disclose that like all good ideas, using a nesting ottoman in the nursery came from her. Although, I am pretty sure that I was the one who originally made Maggie buy hers, so... maybe it was my idea all along?) When I was looking for a side table for the nursery, I couldn't find anything that I really loved the look of, so I just decided to go with something practical. Maggie had already moved her nesting ottoman into her nursery and it was doing the trick, so I decided to stop searching and just go out and buy a nesting ottoman of my own.

And I'm so glad I did! In eight months, we have used it every single day for: 1. Storage 2. a Side Table 3. Seating 4. an Activity Cube and 5. a Walker/Climber/Cruiser.  Is there any other nursrey item that you can think of that is so multi-faceted?

When I first came home from the hospital, Maggie had stocked my ottoman with fruit roll-ups and granola bars and Twizzlers (Oh my!), and from day one, I kept my Lanolin, little nursing notebook, pen, and water on the tray for quick and easy access. Now, we keep clean-up supplies inside and use the tray to keep Will's favorite books at the ready. After Christmas, we will probably use it to store and rotate toys.

The extra little ottoman is the only extra seating (besides the floor) in our nursery, and once we started our bedtime routine, it became my place to sit and pray and sing while Jason gives Will his bottle (and sits and prays and sings). So I got A LOT of daily use out of this item for the last eight months, but now that Will is moving and cruising (which is a technical baby term, by the way), every member of the family uses this item every day.

Will uses the different levels of the ottomans to pull himself up and cruise from ottoman to ottoman, ottoman to crib, and ottoman to recliner.  Sometimes, he pushes the small ottoman around, using it kind of like a walker. I can set temping items on top and (wallah!) instant activity cube. (We bought Will this activity cube for Christmas, and I am going to laugh if he likes the make-shift ottoman one better.)

Also, the soft padded edges mean that a fall elicits no more than a surprised look. And if it survives until a time when we no longer need it in the nursery, our nesting ottoman is neutral enough that we can use it in many other rooms of our house for years to come.

Can it get more ultimate than that? Well, maybe if it helped put Will to sleep.

A Perfect Way to Start the Week

All I want for Christmas is this...

...or remember this?
I'd take that too... Seriously, Jason and I have been trying to focus on giving each other experience-type gifts, which basically means a vacation, but I would rather be surprised with a flashmob of professional muscians. You have just over two weeks, Jason. I'm even posting this one day early to give you a head start.

To the rest of you, Happy Sunday! I hope your week is filled with unexpected delight!

Also, thanks to Emily at Designer Blogs for the new look here.

(USAF Band Flash Mob video via NPR)

Bye Bye

Adios terrible teething symptoms! Welcome back sweet, happy William of the impressive nap hair. Two teeth are enough, right?  You can eat crackers and bread and blueberries.  That's a pretty good diet. But in all seriousness, check out that nap hair. I've considered not brushing it before we go out because it's even more spectacularly cute in person, and more people should be able to experience it. 

Also, check out the view from behind. I die. The ears that perfectly frame your head and turn out just a bit at the top. The tiny little neck. (I'll always adore you, but it's much easier when you are not whining and pushing at me all day long.) Love, Moma

I Love Lamp...

...these glass lamp bases, to be exact.  I originally bought them because I wanted something light and neutral with my gray walls and dark wood furniture. But I just keep stuffing them up. Earlier this year, I filled them with pine cones and now ornaments. The bottom is open, so all I have to do is flip the lamp over and fill it up. I'm all for easy holiday decorations.

I bought my lamp bases from Target a few years ago, and they aren't available anymore. However, this version from IKEA is another great option. I really love them when they are empty, and I think they are pretty cute filled. So, if you are in the market for new lamps, I'd highly recommend these.

Also, we are getting an IKEA in St. Louis! (if you hadn't already heard)

Let Them Eat Bread

Will has only cut two teeth so far, but those two teeth have taken a lot out of the both of us. Basically, those teefers (as I like to call them) are making both of us hate life.  The last two days have been better than the previous six, but we were touch and go for a while there. Will basically wanted to be held ALL THE TIME for the last week (the same week when I was trying to get the house ready for a big Thanksgiving celebration), which is sweet sometimes, especially when he does this thing where he launches his entire body into my arms or lap. But then, as soon as he is in my arms, he pushes against me with all four limbs until I try to put him down when he grabs on for dear life, all while issuing a high and constant whine. Just a tad frustrating for both of us.

He's also had cold symptoms, fever, and a rash over the last month, all presumably from teething. So what is the cure? Traditional medication like acetaminophen and ibuprofen? Homeopathic medicine like teething tablets and amber necklaces? The former only seems to take the edge off a bit and the latter I'm a bit dubious of. (Anyone out there want to vouch for either of those methods?) Our cure so far has been prayer, perspective, and crusty bread. We pray for strength and patience and comfort.  And I realize that I'd much rather be dealing with a whiny William than grading 120 essays.  And if we ever have a really bad day with really short naps, I just pack Will up in the car, where he is usually happy (and sometimes nappy), and head on down to the closest Bread Co. (that's Panera to you non-St. Louisans) to pick up a french loaf.  When we get home, he'll teeth on a hunk of that crusty bread long enough for me to get dinner ready, and if it was a really bad day or Jason isn't going to make it home for dinner, I will have a piece of bread with butter (and a beer) for dinner and a piece of bread with butter and honey for dessert. I figure if we can make it to dinner, we can make it another day. 

Also, I suspect those two new bottom teeth are responsible for his new top-lip grin. Kinda cute, right? I guess I'll keep him.

Be-Your-Own Bathroom Attendant

Even thought it's been four days since Thanksgiving, I still haven't put everything away from our big shindig. But I did get out all the Christmas decorations... so there you go. One of the things I still need to put away is the be-your-own bathroom attendant supplies. I've never actually used any supplies at restrooms where there are real live bathroom attendants because I just felt awkward, but I have been at weddings and other events where there were supplies set up in the bathroom that came in handy. And I thought, "Hey, I could do that for my guests."

The be-your-own bathroom attendant idea really evolved from when we had guests stay over for Thanksgiving last year, and I set up a hospitality basket in each room with some (hopefully) useful items. This year, I set up the items in the guest bathrooms in our house because... well, you never know. And I believe that being a good hostess (like a good teacher) is all about anticipation and preparation.

You can see all the supplies I included below (purchased from the travel size section and checkout line at Target). When I created the hospitality baskets for the guest rooms, I also put in chocolates, water bottles, a candle, and a lighter. Once you have the basic supplies, this takes about two minutes to set up.  After the party, I just stow the unused items in the linen closet and put the perishable items like mints, gum, and TUMS on my grocery list the next time I have a party. Easy peasy! And you'll be the hostess with the mostess!
Also, speaking of hospitality, isn't that one of the best understated things about traveling... those little extra things that make you feel a bit more comfortable when away from home. Although I love where we live, I keep telling Jason that if his company ever offers him a position in Belgium or Brazil (the two countries the company that bought out his company are headquartered), he should take it, especially if it's Belgium.  In my dream, we will live in Antwerp, and I will get to go to Wasbar to do my laundry and practice my German (or Dutch or French). Check out the sweet little video below about the coolest laundromat ever. 

See the full story about this hospitable place at Messy Nessy Chic.

Also, One More Video to Start the Week

I love the idea of having your own personal LOL/ROTFL like the one mom's CLAH (cackling like a hen). I've been trying to come up with my own since seeing this segment. So far, I have the following:

LLAL (Laughing Like A Lady)
CAAMP (Chuckling Audibly At My Phone)
GFETE (Grinning From Ear To Ear)
WMH (Warms My Heart)
TAPASOOM (Tears And Pee Are Streaming Out Of Me)

Any other suggestions? I feel like CAAMP is most accurate for what is often happening, but TAPASOOM has a nice Seussical ring to it.

Happy Monday! I hope your week has many moments where you are GFETE!

A Perfect Way to Start the Week

Happy Advent! The season of joyful expectation and preparation for the birth of Jesus is here! And let me say, this Advent weather has been very conducive to outdoor preparation so far. Reaching almost 60 degrees yesterday, we got to go for a walk and get our outside Christmas decorations up. 

Another way we celebrate Advent every year is by buying presents for a child in Christian Social Services of Illinois. Last year, we participated in CSSIL's Secret Santa program directly, and this year, we are delivering the presents through our church.  If you are interested in working with them, they have an awesome program.  You can click here to find out more, or you can let me know and I can put you in contact with the right people directly. 

In order to help finance our charitable giving this season more fully, we have tried to cut down on superfluous giving in our family. Instead, in our family, we are trying to focus on the present of presence by spending more time with each other this season, and I am very excited for some of the activities we have planned.  AND... one of my favorite activities actually involves gift giving. I'm talking about Yankee Swap! We have done Yankee Swap for the past few year's in addition to giving individual gifts, but we really enjoy it so much, that we thought we could just make it THE gift exchange. Maggie just sent out the directions to our family last night, and I have already started to get my girl present ready.  Read below for Maggie's Yankee Swap explanation:

Hello Sweet Family,

I feel so grateful that we all got to spend time together this Thanksgiving, and I absolutely cannot wait to celebrate Jesus's birthday with all of you, my beautiful family, and your children and grandchildren. 
As our adult gift giving has evolved over the years, Melissa and I propose a new twist to our exchange. All adults, including MoM and DaD are to purchase a gift, a boy gift if you are a boy and a girl gift if you are a girl, not exceeding a $50 limit. We will participate in a Yankee swap.
See here...   ... for clarification.
If you feel in your heart that you desire to buy a gift for a specific someone, you are, of course, welcome to do so. However, no one is obligated to; we were hoping this might help us focus on the true meaning of Christmas (see here... ...and make inferences) and our sweet children.
Hope you enjoy participating, and we can always make adjustments next year as needed.

Thank you and much love,

I actually really need a new oven mitt, so I'm really excited!

Also, I recently listened to last year's Christmas episode of This American Life and the lengths to which some people go to celebrate are anything if not entertaining.  I mean, just read the description about "Jeko, the super-powerful (and somewhat-scary) Christmas elf."  Let him serve as a warning to all you parents doing Elf on a Shelf. (Just kidding... kind of... I really have no idea what Elf on a Shelf entails more than what I see on Pinterest, but it seems like it could backfire in the same way.)
Happy Monday! I hope your week is filled with joyful expectation!
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