Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Highlights

2012 was an incredibly hard year.  

During the first half of the year, we were barely sleeping.  I think, on average, I was sleeping between 3 and 5 hours a night. It was so difficult.  There were times I wondered if I could die from lack of sleep.  Then, slowly, as the weather warmed and the year dragged closer to Summer, Clara's reflux started to subside and she began to sleep a little better.  Still far from ideal but better.  I felt like we were slowly coming back to life.  During this time, Sophie started her very first soccer season...and Clara began to walk...

In early June, Sophie spent her last day at preschool and we had a pizza/cookie cake party to celebrate...

Somehow, in the midst of the crazy first half, I did manage to plan and pull off a belated 40th birthday bash for Alain (and, in usual Audrey fashion, I took a bunch of photos of my prep work but none during the actual party!).

In Spring, Alain had a very large project at work and we didn't see a lot of him. Then, as Summer started, he finished said project and we prepared to leave for a week-long vacation over July 4th to New York City.  

The day before our flight we learned of our dear brother/brother-in-law/uncle's tragic passing.  

Our trip to Switzerland was heart-wrenching, emotional and just plain hard.....but, even in the midst of that, there were some beautiful moments.  We don't get to see Alain's family much so, even in the midst of our pain, we had to do our best to soak up our time together (and to celebrate Yaron's 2nd birthday). It was the first time all five cousins were together in the same place and the joy of the children kept us all going.

A life without Ygal. We're still attempting to come to grips with this, if we ever can. It's been six months now. Therefore, the second half of the year has seen us muddling through.  

As soon as we returned from Switzerland, our baby Clara turned one.  My grand plans for her party were put on the back burner and we had a small, intimate family gathering to celebrate.

{I don't know why this picture is "foggy" but I'm including it because it's one of my favorites!}

The very next day we commemorated what would've been Ygal's 36th birthday by releasing 36 balloons.

In early August, my aunt and uncle invited us on their beach vacation.  It turned out to be just what the doctor ordered.  It was peaceful and relaxing....

A few short weeks later and Sophie started kindergarten. Unbelievable!

After two days of school, we drove down to Hilton Head for a long weekend to celebrate Sophie's 6th birthday. It was a lovely, lovely weekend and that trip included what was probably my favorite moment of the entire year....

As I was going back through all my pictures from the year, I couldn't believe how many nature pictures there were.  Flowers, birds, trees, insects, deer, shells, leaves, my garden, you name it.....I don't even know how my computer can contain them all.  I was surprised but this makes sense to me.....when I'm down, nature is my solace.  And there was a lot of nature in my life this year. For that, I am so thankful.

Hard years also come to an end.

I am looking forward, with a hopeful heart, to 2013!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Christmas!

Here's wishing all of you a cozy, warm, happy, healthy, peaceful Christmas!

PS ~ I took this picture last year. My parents' neighbor had this homemade wreath hanging on their shed and it looked so simple but so festive. I knew it would be the image for my Christmas greetings this year. It's a small miracle that I remembered! 

Iggy Pop

For this week's post, I thought I'd do a follow-up on this post.

Since Ygal missed Sophie's birth, he didn't get to meet her until she was a year and eight months old.

As you can see, they made up for lost time!

Sophie is lucky in that she got to spend time with her Tio during several trips over the years.  Since she was five years old when he passed away, she may even have some concrete, long-term memories of Ygal.  I feel thankful for that.  It does make me sad that Clara won't have the same....although Alain and I often discuss how happy we are that Ygal and Clara met earlier this year.

I've always liked these two pictures ~ I think they again clearly show what a great uncle Ygal was to Sophie!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Shopping with Clara

Earlier this week I went out with Clara to look for a few presents.  As were passing a fixture, she reached out and grabbed a very nice terry robe.  


Every time I pried it from her hands, she would start screaming and crying.  It was rather endearing how much she loved this robe.  If it weren't $89, I may have actually bought it for her!!!

As you'd imagine, she left there in tears.

V.I.P. Visitor in the Hood

Clara and I were so pleased when we arrived home a few days ago to find this visitor in the driveway.  He/she was nice enough to let us take this one awesome shot before flying away....

Monday, December 17, 2012

Looking to be uplifted?

Even if just for a moment?

I don't know about you but after Friday's tragic, devastating, horrifying and downright heart-wrenching school shooting, I think I was subconsciously looking to be uplifted during my online browsing over the weekend.  This post crossed my path many times over the last few days and, while I do like that one a lot, it's the below video that really caught my attention and had me coming back for just one more view.  I'm not a child but I still need reassurance that there's goodness in the world.  This video gives me a little bit of hope that we can overcome this kind of devastation.  Even though we may not have lost a direct friend or family member in Newtown, every single one of us lost something.  I hope this video lifts you up for just a moment.....

Note: I discovered this video on Design Mom's Friday post.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gingerbread Lane

Come take a walk with us down Gingerbread Lane, won't you?

I fell in love with these gorgeous Christmas trees!

A lovely gingerbread Eiffel Tower!

I'd love to take a stroll up this walk. Wouldn't you?

A snowy wedding.

A peek at a Christmas tree in the window. I love the red, green & white candy corn roof. This house took my vote for 1st Place.

A lovely pretzel fence.

A gingerbread country house.  This one took Soph's vote.

Penguins having fun.  No doubt my favorite photo from the day.

Some folks are really talented.

Popcorn snow!

A "Welcome" Mat and some hot cocoa.

I LOVED this roof.

WOW.  Such a gorgeous house!

I especially liked the Christmas lights made of chocolate-coated sunflower seeds!

Gingerbread snow angels!

Elf graffiti.

Trees made of candy!

We had such a lovely time on Gingerbread Lane. I hope you did too!  Thanks for joining us!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Iggy Pop

Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights but this year the candles don't seem to burn as brightly.  

Bianca sent this picture earlier in the week and I knew immediately that it had to be this week's post.  I'm so happy Bianca agreed.  I don't have any other photo of Ygal at Hanukkah.  And this photo is BEAUTIFUL, sweet, proud, peaceful.  Just look at little Yaron!  What an angel.

In our house we've been lighting the candles nightly right next to two framed pictures of Ygal. It's almost like he's here with us.  It at least feels good to have his photos so close by.  It's definitely the first Hanukkah where we don't get to speak to Ygal and tell him about our celebrations.  We don't receive a lovely package like we normally do.  It's hard.

But I did dream of Ygal twice this week.  It was comforting.  I'm thankful for that!

I love you, Bianca & Yaron.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Looking for Peace this Holiday Season?

Seriously, this time of year can be so stressful.  I often feel a little bit blue when I see everyone rushing around, being mean to each other in parking lots, and buying up a bunch of junk that they don't need and won't use.  We've all lost a bit of what this entire season is supposed to be about.  When I discovered this song recently, I thought it was the perfect way to relax and reflect.  So, I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.  Sit down with a cuppa. Close your eyes for a few moments.  If you're like me, you might fall totally asleep.  But that's okay too..

(there's no video, just this image so don't worry about watching!)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Good Hanukkah Craft Is Hard To Find

It's true.  So we made our own.  Ribbon dreidels. Inspired by this pin, I went on a ribbon shopping spree.  Blue, silver & glittery are what I was seeking.  We also used some old ribbon scraps we had on hand.  I knew they'd come in handy at some point!!!  Of course, I had to make a "sample".  I did it one night after the girls were in bed and it was so, so, so therapeutic!  Here's my "sample":

I was going for a vintage, fabric-scrap quilt look.

Note to self: Make sure that dreidel outline is not showing once finished. Ahem.

Halfway through, the girls decided that glittery ribbons weren't enough.  They went off and found some glitter in Sophie's craft drawer.  Green and pink glitter. Ahem. Still, here are their almost-finished dreidels:

{Charlotte's dreidel}

{Sophie's dreidel}

In typical Sophie "more is more" fashion, she started to decorate the rest of the paper.

Even though the girls said they enjoyed the project, I am thinking it might be best for children a little older (these girls are 6).

Will keep searching and trying to create that elusive perfect Hanukkah craft.  To be continued....

Sunday, December 9, 2012

If You're Of The Hanukkah Persuasion *

For all who celebrate The Festival of Lights, Happy Hanukkah to you! 

In celebration, I'm sharing links to some of my favorite Hanukkah videos....

~ A real classic.....The Maccabeats
~ Eight Crazy Nights, Part I, Part II, Part III

* I credit this title to Alain.  When someone asks him about his Christmas plans, he replies, "Well, actually, I'm of the Hanukkah persuasion."  Not sure why but this always makes me laugh.
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