Tuesday, November 30, 2010

HELP!!!!


As a FuzziBunz (those are cloth diapers) retailer, I have the opportunity to participate in a photo contest.  The winning photo will be featured on the FuzziBunz company holiday greeting card.  Additionally, the winner receives some free products and a great gift card.  Below are the photos I took of Elaine for my contest entry, and I can’t decide between them!

This is where you come in – leave me comment voting for your favorite.  I may decide to attempt another photo shoot.  I don’t have great lighting in this apartment.  I still have some shadows that don’t please me. 

The three pictures below are the best out of over 100 shots!  (It’s hard to capture a 1 year old sitting still, smiling, and looking at you!).

So here they are…

#1

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#2KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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I did my best with touchup and editing.  Any of my readers that are great with photos or Photo Shop (I actually use a different program) are welcome to offer suggestions to make these shots better!

Thanksgiving

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day this year.  This was the first time we were able to travel to Massachusetts to be with Ben’s family for the holiday.  Ben’s brother Evan also came home from Connecticut. 

Dad decided to soak the turkey in a brine solution, and then convection cook it.  It was REALLY delicious!  We had all of the fixings of a Thanksgiving feast!

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Dad did the turkey, made the gravy, and the sweet potatoes.  Mom had green bean casserole and stuffing ready – Hamilton stuffing has sausage and apples in it…mmmmmm good!  I turned the mashed potatoes into a calorie nightmare with my grandma’s recipe, and I also brought the cranberry sauce.

Thanksgiving       Thanksgiving
The lovely table – Grandma Kuenzi’s dishes; the beautiful flower arrangement

ThanksgivingBen & Elaine snacking on Cheerios while the food was cooking

While the meal was still cooking, Dad called us all into the living room.  We each received a card from Grandma Hamilton.  She is getting “up there” in age and not doing so great health wise.  This year she moved into a nursing home.  We each received a nice check for our birthday and Christmas.  Included in the card was a verse.  When we sat down to eat we each read our verse and then said a short prayer of Thanksgiving.  It was a nice way to remember all of the many blessings that God has poured upon us this year.

Thanksgiving

Evan’s birthday is November 29th, and we celebrated it on Sunday.  Evan picked the entrĂ©e for lunch, and then we followed Hamilton tradition – chocolate cake with chocolate icing!  We had fun being together again!

Hamilton Siblings Evan's birthdayEvan, Meredith, Me, and Ben

Lainey’s Lodge

While we were in Massachusetts last week, Elaine received a special surprise!  Grandma Hamilton and Auntie Meredith (and I can’t remember if Grampa helped) constructed a special play house.  Fit for a princess, it even had a name – Lainey’s Lodge!

Lainey's Lodge

It’s amazing what you can do with a couple of big boxes.  They even painted bricks on the outside and laid carpet.  There was a mirror on the wall, decorations, and a pop-out window in the private bedroom.

Lainey's LodgeStill a little uncertain about this…she just woke up!

Lainey's Lodge

Lainey's Lodge“Mmmmmm.  There’s Cheerios in here.  I like it!”

Lainey's Lodge
Peek-a-boo!

Lainey's Lodge
A couple of days later…enjoying playtime at Lainey’s Lodge with Grandma Hamilton!

Lainey's Lodge
Inside with Grandma

Lainey's Lodge
We were trying so hard to get her to look at the camera!

Elaine didn’t sleep so great during this visit – it was a different crib, a different room, a different schedule.  Two mornings in a row she was up from 2-4ish.  Ben took her the first morning.  They played with the blocks.  Elaine built a tower for the first time (yeah – she didn’t knock it over right away), and she sorted the blocks by color all on her own!  The next day she again pulled all of the purple blocks out of the pile and put them inside of her play house.  She’s so smart  - she must take after me, right?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Recipe for Laughter


a great night’s sleep (notice the bed head)
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captain crunch cereal
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mommy giving me a puddle of milk in my cereal
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{mommy} “what’s that slurping sound?”
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{elaine} milk all over my face and jammies
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{mommy} laughing and {elaine} smiling!

(and yes, she really did drink all of the milk out of her bowl, to my surprise!  I was reading something and not paying attention until I heard the slurping!)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Out of the Big City

Last night we left the Big City and drove into the countryside.  Here are some of the things that amazed me…

  • For the first time since June, I consciously looked up and realized there are stars in the sky.
  • There are open spaces in this world!  I looked at the fields, and the trees, and the desolate highways and realized it has been a long time since I have seen those things!
  • There are many building which do not stretch to the sky
  • When we arrived at my in-laws’, we parked…{gasp} in the driveway!  You know…like a reserved space, waiting – just for us!

Vacation is going to be wonderful!

“O taste and see that the Lord is good…”

Psalm 34:8

I had a professor in college who used to say, “God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.”

That statement is so very true, and I always have a lot to thank God for at Thanksgiving.  This year, though, I feel particularly overwhelmed as I think of everything that God has done for us in this past year.  Ben and I were making a list and these are just a few of the things that are on it…

  • God’s leading and direction to New York City
  • An apartment with Christian landlords
  • A washing machine in the apartment
  • The offering from our church in Va. Beach, and gifts from friends to help with moving expenses
  • Lots of people (family and church members) to help us move in
  • A job within two weeks of moving here
  • The successful launch of our home businessElaine's 1st Birthday Party
  • Health
  • A new computer
  • A new baby on the way
  • A love gift from Ben’s church
  • A new stroller
  • Our church and the spiritual growth we have had since moving here
  • Clothes and shoes for Elaine from ladies at church

Ben gave a recitation at church last evening regarding Thanksgiving.  The decision to set aside a day for prayer and Thanksgiving was the first one made by the Framers after the completion of the Bill of Rights. 

Mr. [Elias] Boudinot said he could not think of letting the session pass without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining with one voice in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings He had poured down upon them. With this view, therefore, he would move the following resolution:

“Resolved, That a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the President of the United States to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer. . . .”

Mr. Roger Sherman justified the practice of thanksgiving on any single event not only as a laudable one in itself but also as warranted by a number of precedents in Holy Writ. . . . This example he thought worthy of a Christian imitation on the present occasion.

That congressional resolution was delivered to President George Washington, who heartily concurred with the request and issued the first federal Thanksgiving proclamation, declaring in part:

“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor. . . . Now, therefore, I do appoint Thursday, the 26th day of November 1789 . . . that we may all unite to render unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection.”

Happy Thanksgiving.  May you enjoy a blessed day as a you remember the goodness of God, and then give Him thanks for it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year


I know it’s the day before Thanksgiving, but Christmas is right around the corner.  I realize that this holiday is very over-commercialized in the world, but I still look forward to this time of year.  Some of my favorite things of the season include listening to Christmas music, watching the snow come down as everyone’s homes are lit up with twinkle lights, and getting Christmas cards in the mail.  I especially like it if there is a photo included! 

I have sent out Christmas photos the last several years.  It has really ended up that I put it off, and then rush into Wal-Mart where I stand in a long line, get frustrated with the machine, and the lack of options.  The photo greeting card selection has gotten pretty slim, and many of them are as generic as “Happy Holidays”.

This year will be different.  Since I now live in New York City and it is not as convenient to just run down to the non-existent Wal-Mart on the corner, I have learned the convenience of shopping online. 

Enter Shutterfly.

I would like to tell you about this great online site for ordering photo prints, creating unique photo gifts, and designing your 2010 Christmas card.

Shutterfly has over 800 different holiday card designs to choose from.  You can go with the popular 4x8 photo greeting card, a flat stationary card, or the more traditional center-fold card.  I like that they have a large selection of designs that say “Merry Christmas”, and also many religious designs. 

One of my favorite features is that all of their products are completely customizable with your own text, greeting, font, color, and of course photo.

These are a few of my favorite designs from the 2010 collection:

STATIONERYCARD_5x7-23052-2471-MERCHLARGE_FRONT-v1281039097000100173

STATIONERYCARD_5x5-31046-2647-MERCHLARGE_FRONT-v1281031079000154101      STATIONERYCARD_5x7-23052-2325-MERCHLARGE_FRONT-v1281039838000108397

STATIONERYCARD_FOLDED_5x7-27142-2442-MERCHLARGE_FRONT-v128102576100078931

You can even find Christmas gift tags and calendars at Shutterfly

It is so easy to create your own Christmas card – just create a Shutterfly account, upload your photo, select your design, drag & drop your picture, and customize. 

Last year I created photo books of Elaine’s birth as gifts for the grandparents and great-grandparents.  After shopping several different photo websites, I found that Shutterfly has the best prices and the best selection.  Their system was also very easy to use and I could choose from dozens of backgrounds and fonts.  It was easy to give the photobook a look that was my own.  I have also created a Shutterfly wall calendar, and it was just as easy as the photo book.

So…be sure to check out Shutterfly for your Christmas cards and photo gifts this year.  There are usually several different specials and coupon codes to help you find a bargain!

Imagination


This is how Elaine walked around the house all morning yesterday – a balloon in one hand, and a glasses case in the other.

Elaine with Balloons
She loved her birthday balloon, but her Daddy popped it when it started losing its helium.  Our Hallmark store is going out of business, so I got Elaine another balloon.  She never let go of it!  She hijacked the glasses case from Ben’s dresser drawer (which he left hanging open Annoyed).  It was really a telephone to Elaine…

Elaine with BalloonsShe talked and talked and talked as she walked around jerking her balloon!  Oh the imagination she has already!

As I was washing the supper dishes, Elaine joined me in the kitchen.  She found the box of clementines within her reach (I think that was Daddy again).  “Wow, it’s my day.  Mommy left these for me to play with,” she thought.  One was hidden away safely in my pots & pans cupboard.  Some became balls.  

Elaine and the Clementines

Then I heard it.  Plop, plop, plop.  I spun around to discover what I had been afraid of…Elaine was efficiently transferring the clementines into…the dirty diaper pail!  Oh no!  I had just put the diapers in the wash and had not yet sanitized the pail.  At least I caught her when only a few had been dropped in!

When Daddy joined us in the kitchen, Elaine had found something else in which to put her precious clementines.  A trash can.  Neither Ben nor I really know where this little trash can came from, which is why it is still sitting in my kitchen floor.  Elaine brought it in the day before.

Elaine put all five pounds of clementines into that trash can, one by one.  I was still washing dishes when Ben exclaimed, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”  As I spun around again, I thought something must be wrong.

This is what was happening…

Elaine and the Clementines

Elaine and the Clementines

Elaine and the Clementines
Yes, she put every single one back into the box, one by one. 
“This is a breakthrough.  Maybe she will put away her toys too.”  What do you think? 
Yeah, I don’t really think so either.

Elaine and the Clementines
She ended up crawling into the trash can to get the last clementine!

Life is never boring in our household!  I am blessed to be able to spend my day chasing around a busy one year old with a big imagination.

It’s Wednesday–but not Wordless!

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So…I thought this picture needed a little explanation.  Elaine was being really cute with Rocky (the cat).  “I need a Wordless Wednesday picture,” I thought to myself as I pulled out the camera.  Elaine saw the camera and decided to pose, so she started to lay down on the kitty.  Neither she, nor I realized how close she was to the edge of the bed.  Just as I snapped the picture, I practically threw the camera in an attempt to catch her as she went over the edge.  Yes…that funny blur on the right side of the picture is Elaine’s feet as she tumbled off the bed.

Yesterday I was finally able to get some good shots of Elaine with Rocky…

Elaine with Rocky

Elaine with Rocky

Elaine with Rocky
As you can see, she loves the kitty, especially his tail.  She gets very excited when he comes upstairs.  Rocky is good to tolerate Elaine.  Most of the time he escapes to the bed, but sometimes Mommy allows Elaine to follow him there!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pillow Fight!

I thought you might enjoy this video from our family play time last night!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Free Entertainment


“I can do it myself.”

Though she isn’t talking, sometimes Elaine communicates this phrase to me.  Lately it with anything food.  She doesn’t want Mommy to feed her, she wants to do it herself!  She’s also been teething and hasn’t had a very good appetite.  So last night when Elaine wanted the whole pizza slice, rather than the cut up bits, I decided to let her go at it.

There she was.  Little Elaine.  Big slice of pizza.  Trying desperately to make her teeth tear off a bite.  What ended up happening is that she buried her whole face in the slice, pulling off the topping and leaving the crust.  “Mmmm.  That was fun.  I’m done now.”

Then Daddy introduced the ranch dressing.  Suddenly the crust was very fun.  She would dip, lick, and dip again (never eating the crust, but enjoying the ranch!).

Elaine is so much fun to watch as she learns and discovers new things.  Even though she was a mess, she was very entertaining at the dinner table.  Who needs a TV?  We have an Elaine!  And she is free!  (Well, sort of…)  

Now – it would also be quite entertaining to watch Daddy clean her up.  Yeah.  I’m not holding my breath, either.  Oh well, it was a nice thought!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Amazon to the rescue


I did something weird this week.  Okay, so maybe that is not an eye-opening statement.  I don’t exactly fit in the “normal” mold.  But this is something that I never thought I would do.

I purchased toilet paper online.  Doesn’t that just sound crazy?  Amazon.com had a great deal.  As an Amazon Mom member, I get free 2-day shipping.  By signing up with Subscribe & Save, I received an additional discount.  So…I got super soft Cottonelle toilet paper for less than $5 for 12 double rolls.

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAElaine had a great time knocking over my packages!

Amazon.com has come to the rescue several times recently.  I prefer Baby Magic lotion (it smells sooooo much better than Johnson’s!), and I can’t find it here in New York City.  I ordered six bottles on Amazon (enough to last through the next baby, I think!) for under $2 a bottle. 

When I couldn’t find canning lids, I got them on Amazon.  Free shipping and great prices…you can’t beat it!

I have been looking at a postal scale to help in my business.  They are pricey at Staples.  On a whim I checked Amazon last night.  Yes…I got my scale for $20 and it will be here tomorrow! 

I always think of Amazon.com as a book seller.  Not anymore – you can find just about anything in their enormous online shop.  Even toilet paper!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Shame is the name of the game


Here in NYC they sweep the streets every week.  There is a schedule posted, and on cleaning day you have to move your car.  Usually we just double park on the other side of the street until the cleaning hours end, and then we move it back. 

On our street they clean between 8:30 and 10:00 a.m. on Mondays.  If you don’t move your car you can get a ticket.  You might not get caught. 

But…there is another punishment, and shame is the name of the game!  They stick this sign on your car window.  I think it must be hard to get off because I have seen several half-removed stickers.  The glue must be pretty strong!  They really want to shame you into following the rules!

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That’s right…it’s all this guy’s fault.  The street is still dirty, and we know who to blame!

Happy Day After Veterans Day


american-flag1I know that Veteran’s Day was yesterday, but I still want to add my post to the sentiment’s already expressed in appreciation for our soldiers.  Ben pointed out to me yesterday that most of our holidays commemorate the dead.  Veteran’s Day honors and remembers the living.

Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines a veteran as “an old soldier of long service; a former member of the armed forces.”  Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day, and it celebrated the end of the war in 1918.  It is now a legal holiday in the United States to honor the members of the armed forces.

My dad served in the US Air Force for eight and a half years.  I was born in England while he was stationed there.  My Grandpa Paul served in the Army during the Korean War, though he was never deployed.  My Uncle Lewis also served in the Army.  Ben’s Grandpa Hamilton served in the US Air Force, and his Grandpa Kuenzi served in the Swiss service.

I am grateful for the men in my family, and those who are my friends, who have given of their time and life to serve and protect our great country.  It is good to remember that freedom is not free, and that it is purchased at a great price.  I want to honor our veterans – even though it is a day late!

Elaine’s First Birthday–The Bunny Cake Adventure


Elaine thoroughly enjoyed her birthday cake.  We followed tradition and let her dig into her own cake.   

Elaine's 1st Birthday
After stripping her down to the diaper, we lit one lonely candle on her bunny cake and sang happy birthday. 

Elaine's 1st Birthday
Elaine loves to lick the beaters when we bake cookies or cake, so she was not afraid to dig into this cake.

Elaine's 1st Birthday

Elaine's 1st Birthday
“Mmmmmm.  This is really good, Mom!”

Elaine's 1st Birthday
Not bashful at all…she gets her manners from Ben’s side of the family (Hahaha!)

Elaine's 1st Birthday
“Do you like my beard?”

Elaine's 1st Birthday
“This pink stuff makes me thirsty!”

Elaine's 1st Birthday
The end product. 

Elaine's 1st BirthdayWe dunked her in a quick bath so that she could gets hugs and kisses from Grandma & Grampa Hamilton before they left to return home.