Halfway How-To January 2018

I decided to call this a halfway how-to. Partly because I'm not really going to give you instructions for how to do it, mostly because writing instructions doesn't appeal to me. And partly because the way I do DIY projects is not exactly the most correct or efficient way to do them and may actually be the lazy way, and the method of least resistance. Therefore this information is not reliable nor is it detailed and complete. And you probably just asked yourself why you are still here. So see ya!

For those of you that stuck around, here are some photos of the most recent projects we've been working on in the Larsen home.

I've made ornaments for every Christmas since we've been married. I originally just wrote the year on the back with a sharpie and that looked okay. And there was the unfortunate year of 2015 when I thought it would be a good idea to use glitter ModPodge. PSA for anyone thinking they should use glitter ModPodge it is MOSTLY glitter.

But I think I've got it down now. I burn whatever I want onto the back of the slice. Then I ModPodge the picture onto the other side.

*Fun Fact: these wood slices are our wedding vases. Tyler cut them up for me and I've been putting them to good use ever since.
Then I put the hook into the top, cut that string and tie it on. These are my very favorite ornaments because they are memories. And I love that I get to make them all different and unique.

Over Tyler's last school break he built us a TV stand/media console/bookshelf. We'd talked about needing something with doors to keep Alice from her favorite game of pulling stuff off shelves (if you've watched my Instagram Stories then you know).



Tyler designed this for us and it turned out perfect.

     



Paint, stained and ready for stuff and doors! 



Honestly this is one of my favorite things that we do together. And when I say together I mean Tyler designs, plans, buys, builds and during those phases I ask a lot of annoying questions. Then I usually come in for the staining and painting and sealing because it feels therapeutic to me and it's not Tyler's favorite part. This is by far one of my favorite pieces Tyler has built. And it has been tested and approved by Alice herself.

Christmas 2017: Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Our first Christmas with a baby was kind of a strange experience. We anticipated it a lot. Several people asked several times what Alice wanted for Christmas. Well she's 8 months old so what she'd probably want Christmas day is a couple of good naps and a full tummy. 

I think we dreamed that she would magically understand the gift giving and the Christmas story and be able to appreciate the day. But she's a baby, so that didn't happen. 

Christmas joy!      
 The whole present thing didn't really land this year but we didn't expect it to. There was a lot of lap sitting and wondering what all these packages of paper were.
Christmas came and went and while there may have been a couple of exciting moments in Christmas jammies or frosting sugar cookies, for Alice it probably just felt regular. But that's what she likes so she probably still thought it was a pretty good day.

We traveled with my family to southern Colorado and it was so fun!


     
 My family started a Christmas Eve dinner tradition while I was growing up or after I'd grown up. A while ago. We (try) to have traditional food of the time when Christ was alive and eat without utensils or electricity. We turn down the lights and light candles. It is delicious and cozy and brings back a lot of memories of studying in Jerusalem.
    



It's definitely different having babies with us now every time my family gets together. There is a lot less spontaneity and late nights, but probably more kisses and hugs and watching babies do funny things. 
Holding grandpa's leg...
We also had our family's first Gingerbread house contest. It was surprisingly REALLY FUN! 



     

We also took some new family photos. Also different with babies, but they're all still little so not that different.


For Auld Lang Syne

I think goals are silly. And disappointing. And stressful.
Not all goals. Just the ones that include timelines and numbers and deadlines. 

Once I set a goal it's as if my brain takes that as permission not to do it. 
And a lot of times I find loopholes in the goal so that I can say I did it when I know I didn't really do it.

Or I tell myself that the goal I made wasn't the one I meant to make and instead I write down a "goal" for something I never planned to accomplish. Like adding things you've already done to your to-do list just so you can cross it off. That's how I do goals. 

So the last couple years I have done away with goals and instead made a list of qualities I'd like to gain or improve within myself. I've written down qualities like empathetic and forgiving. And now I'm an expert at both of those. Ha. Not really. Though I do think I am more empathetic and forgiving than I used to be.

For 2018 I've decided on awareness. This picture of Alice was my inspiration.

I often find myself sitting in a moment and thinking of something in the past, wishing I could remember it better, or thinking of the future wishing it could be here already. I've realized that because I'm old now(30), time seems to be moving faster or my brain is slowing down and can't remember things that have happened or at least remember them as vividly as I'd like. 

I'd like to be more aware. I'd like to be sitting in a moment and be thinking about what is happening right then instead of thinking of other things. I want to soak up all the details like a sponge so I can have them to revel in when I'm old(er). 

I read an anonymous quote a while ago on a friend's post that talked about how a lot of times you are unaware that the last time you do something is the last time. And that made me really sad, but then made me want to pay more attention to my own life. I want to be okay with my last times because I soaked them in. I don't want to be sad because they passed over me and I didn't notice.

That's my "goal" this year. I will do my best to live in the moments that I find myself feeling feelings. I will be more present and aware.

Now, I generally like to start the new year by taking down the tree, putting away twinkly lights and stockings. I enjoy changing our calendar and putting up new pictures of family and friends. I clean out our books and closets and donate things where they might be needed.

And this year I'm excited to change the big chalk sign that Tyler built us to a fresh new phrase that will remind me to be aware. When I read the words 'be where you are' my mind resets. It refocuses on what I'm doing instead of what I was or will be doing. 

And it will stay all year! Actually it will stay until the next holiday that needs something cute on the chalkboard. But it will stay till then and stay in my heart the rest of the year!
I've also decided this winter warrior needs to be somewhere in my daily line of sight. Winter and I don't get along too well and this will hopefully remind me that I can power through the cold, slush, and ice and I can do with a smile! Some of the days!

This beautiful gold foil art is from my friend Tessa! She creates a piece of art each month and sends it out to her subscribers. She is so thoughtful, kind, and incredibly talented. I'm so excited to get something from her each month!

Traditions and mini traditions.

Last year I was pregnant. And it snowed A LOT. So instead of going to one of the fun farms in Greenbluff to cut down our Christmas tree I insisted we drive ONE BLOCK to the tree lot, stuff the tree in the trunk and drive it back. Like some kind of pregnant Grinch. 

But we had also found out Alice was a girl that day. Before we went to the tree lot we went to Target to get some pink ribbon to tie on the tree for little Alice. 

So we got the tree home and decorated it with the pink ribbon and twinkly lights and I felt less grinch-y and way ready for Christmas!

All this to say I've been waiting three hundred and a thousand days to drive up to Greenbluff and cut down our tree like the real Washingtonians we are.

We decided to go to Dietz to get our tree because it looked like they had the most options from the road. And online it said they had free hot chocolate so maybe that was the real reason. They had hills and hills of trees so we felt good about finding one we would like.

In the choosing of our trees over the years, I've realized my priority was 'cute.' ha. Ya I just want a cute tree.




One of Tyler's priorities is the smell of the tree. It needs to smell like forest, Christmas, pine, spruce, woods, etc. See below. Alice obviously feels that the taste of her gloves is important.

     

A priority we both have is that it is a full tree, tall enough for our house, and has pretty branches and minimal holes.


     

This really is one of my favorite things to do when the holidays come around. I love to go to the mountains (or the Rite-Aid parking lot if I'm pregnant) and find the tree that we'll put lights and ornaments on and tuck presents underneath.



     

While that all sounds magical, this favorite tradition encompasses lots of mini traditions.

Wandering around in the snow(rain now because WA).

Sipping i.e. spilling hot chocolate.

Taking much longer than planned because of our tree priorities(see above).

Quoting Clark Griswold all day long.

Sticky, sap fingers. And consequentially sticky, sap hair, clothes, steering wheel, etc.

Christmas song sing alongs.

And driving home with the sunset.

Those mini traditions happen to be ones we complain about a lot but maybe they'll be some of the funnest ones to remember when we're older and have other things to complain about.