Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking Back

In  January the big event of course was the arrival of sweet little Oona Caroline. Oona's birthday was one of the best days of my life. All the birth days of my kids are memorable and special in their own ways, but Oona's delivery was so peaceful and sacred. The calm before the storm! While the delivery was easy and peaceful, the settling in period was anything but. We struggled, and thankfully we persevered all the better for it. 

In  February we attempted a little Valentine's day photo shoot for Matt. It was one of the few, short + sweet distractions we enjoyed during a very hard month. It was bitterly cold and we were frantically searching for a house as our landlords needed us to move out of our rental. Nursing Oona and figuring out how to manage three children was proving to be a bigger challenge than I had expected and I started feeling really overwhelmed.

Oh  March, you beast of a month. We finally found and purchased a house, and though it needed considerable work it was love at first sight during our very first walk through. God provided a house that met nearly every single unique need our family had - what a tremendous blessing! In early March we took a break from packing and flew down to visit my parents and sister in North Carolina. It was good for us all to spend time relaxing at home with Mom and Dad, and I'll treasure those sweet memories of them meeting Oona for the first time for the rest of my life. Then it was back home and time to move. Moving with a 4 year old, a 1 year old and an infant was just awful. There's just no way to sugar coat it! On top of the stress of moving out of our rental in the middle of winter, we decided to paint as much of the house as we could before moving into the new house which meant many late late nights working until the wee hours of the morning. The day after we finally moved in, Matt had to fly to NYC for work, and left at home with the babies in our unpacked house feeling totally exhausted from the move, I came down with the worst post-partum depression I have ever experienced. 

Things started getting a lot better in  April with the arrival of my wonderful mother-in-law. Sharon's week long visit was just what I needed. We celebrated Olive and Silas' birthdays and the weather finally started warming up enough to start spending time outside. Tulips started peeking through the dirt, and I finally started coming out of the post-partum depression fog. Spring was the light at the end of a dark tunnel for our whole family.

May was gorgeous and warm. We enjoyed our second Tulip Time, watched the parades march past our new front yard, and took lots of walks in our new neighborhood. Mothers Day was extra special this year, hands + heart full with my three beautiful, rambunctious little ones. I finished out the month with a really big bang and got braces! (Yikes!)

Summer really arrived in  June and it was such a fun, busy month. We celebrated Matt on Fathers Day. I only freaked out a little about turning 28. My Dad drove up to Michigan for his very first visit - we had SUCH a blast, hiking and kayaking and exploring Holland with him. We enjoyed every second of his visit with us.

July was packed with almost too much fun to handle. We spent a wonderful week in gorgeous Glen Arbor, MI with Matt's whole family. It was so good to see his brother Chris again, who traveled from Colorado to join us. Soon afterwards MY whole family (all the siblings included) came and spent a week with us in Holland! 

Olive started kindergarten in  August and has loved it ever since. During this month we got a lot of work done on our house, and it really started to feel like home.

Things started cooling down in  September. We had some fun little adventures, exploring a dahlia farm and spending a fun day in lovely little Rockford

Matt and I attended Art Prize in October which is becoming one of my favorite parts of autumn in west Michigan. We also took a quick trip to Ohio to celebrate our nephew's 16th birthday.  

The holiday season officially began in November. We celebrated a quiet Thanksgiving at home, got our first blizzard of the season, took a couple of trips to IKEA, and got our Christmas cards finished in record breaking time

How is it already the very end of December? I took an unplanned break from blogging this month because I just couldn't catch a breath - lots of church and social activities, Matt had a week long business trip, then we decided last minute to spend Christmas in WV with Matt's parents! We only just got back last night and I'm feeling happy, content and a bit overwhelmed at what a crazy-wonderful whirlwind 2014 has been. Thank you for taking the time to follow our simple story through this little blog. Those of you who have reached out and connected through the "blogosphere" have truly made this year sweeter to me. An extra special shout out to the lovely Veronika for helping me give "The Sweetness" a much needed face lift this year. She did such a beautiful job!

Happy Happy 2015!
It's going to be a great year, I can just feel it!

Friday, December 12, 2014

My Teeth Feel Better! But!...

...This week is trying to kill me. Just sayin'.

It hasn't really been that bad - just BUSY! I have a hate/love relationship with busy. I like the excitement, but I'm not such a fan of the pressure to have to remember 100 + 1 details. My brain's feeling a little fried.

So, because I'm sitting on my dirty floor in an unorganized mess of last minute teacher's presents, Sunday school lesson planning and trying to think of something that's not pizza for dinner, I give you...

That's my son, if you didn't recognize him. He's obsessed with the sunglasses. We get some interesting looks when he's wearing them while running errands at 8pm. 


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Because My Teeth Hurt...

...I haven't been able to think straight this week. I had the worst orthodontist adjustment recently, and have been having having a grand old pity party with me, myself and I ever since. Most of the time I forget I even have braces, (it's actually been, overall, a positive experience) and I know the discomfort will fade in the next few days - but for NOW, pass the ibuprofen and let the binge watching of Thomas the Tank Engine commence as I hide my head under a pillow and curse my crooked teeth genes.

And because this already sad post needs some pictures, here are some very random snapshots from the last couple of weeks. Back soon!

^ Our local power plant is feeling festive! ^ 

^ Enjoying trying new recipes through our Plated subscription! ^ 

^ Olive the other reindeer... ^

^ Wish I was here. ^

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Makers Market (Part One)

I am lucky to have two very creative, talented sisters. I'm super lucky that one of them lives just a couple of blocks from me! Grace is a potter and ceramic artist. She's a fine arts graduate from WVU and even had the opportunity to study ceramics in China for a semester. I know I'm biased, but I think no one can deny after seeing her work that this girl has a huge talent. I love that Grace channels her sweet, feminine personality into the clay and turns out the sweetest, prettiest pottery. She was invited to participate in a Makers Market a couple of weeks ago, and I imposed myself on her to "help" (really, I just wanted to be part of the excitement and check out all the hipster artists *wink.*) It was so much fun! And I could not have been more proud of Grace. She works so hard and pours all of herself into her art. 

^ Grace and her close friend / housemate, Alyssa. ^

^ The market took place at Coppercraft Distillery - the towering barrels were quite a sight! ^

^ Another perk of "helping" - I got a free fancy, holiday cocktail. My first buttered rum - it sounds way more delicious than it actually is, unfortunately. That was a little disappointing. ^ 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Picking Our Tree

We went back to the same tree lot that we loved so much last year - and loved it just as much this year! Nicest folks ever - they go out of their way to make sure you're getting a tree you love, and insist on getting a family picture with your tree on the lot...which was great after we got a series of "fails" - it must have been too cold for small Freys to feel cooperative!

Outtakes, for your entertainment:

Oh boy.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Our Thanksgiving

We enjoyed our four day weekend tremendously - it was quiet and simple and just what we needed to rest up and prepare for a very busy upcoming December. Grace and a friend joined us for Thanksgiving dinner. Matt and I cooked a lot, and we got in a little over our heads, but we really enjoy working in the kitchen together and it all worked out in the end. We brined and baked a big turkey, made a brussel sprout salad, gluten free cornbread stuffing, a maple pecan sweet potato casserole and cranberry salad. 

Dessert was homemade cookies and a chocolate coconut pie. 

If you hadn't guessed, we're a little coconut-crazy in this house. Those cookies were too good, I had to give them away and get them out of my house ASAP before I went into self-destruct mode.

I had some good phone visits over the weekend, and received the best news from some loved ones that has had me stopping to do an excited happy dance at least 5 times a day. Also, one of my best friends here in Holland delivered her fourth baby over the weekend and Matt and I got to go hang out with them at the hospital for a bit yesterday. There's nothing like holding a brand new baby to fill you up with wonder, joy and gratitude. I have felt really overwhelmed this week with just how many things we have to celebrate and be thankful for this year, praise be to God! It feels like a great start to this holiday season. (Gah, I'm getting emotional just sitting here typing!)

Last night we began our observation of Advent. Matt and I are still learning about this tradition as it's something neither of us observed as children. Last year we read a verse each night with Olive, but this year we're using the book "The Advent Jesse Tree" - it has devotionals and discussion starters for children and adults so we can use it to have a family Bible study each evening with Olive and Silas as well as a devotional to do together each day. I think this is going to be my favorite part of the Christmas celebration this year!

Oh and we can't forget - it's time to listen to ALL the Christmas music guilt free! I can't get enough of Sufjan Stevens' Christmas albums. I listen to them all the time. Matt put on some Michael Buble the other night that I had never heard that we all really liked, so that might be this year's special soundtrack. (Do you adopt a specific Christmas album as a favorite each year? We tend to do that - past favorites have been Jars of Clay's Christmas Songs , A Very She & Him Christmas and Christmas With the Rat Pack.)

What are you most excited for this Christmas? What are your favorite traditions, big and small?