Missing My Grandmother

I sent out Christmas cards last week, and I was blowing and going through the list, hand addressing them (because I wanted to practice my new lettering skills) and I got to my grandmother’s name: Marynell Reece.  She passed away this last July, and seeing her name on my Christmas card list stopped me dead in my tracks.  So I stopped and had myself a good little cry.  She would have loved our Christmas card.  Not because it was well designed or because I had (for once in my life) gotten them out on time, but because she LOVED my daughter.  She really got a kick out of her ‘babydoll’.  And she would have loved this stage where Taylor is feisty and hams it up for people, that is just the sort of personality my grandmother loved.  And I am heartbroken that she doesn’t get to see these stages in Taylor’s life.  She would have laughed so hard at the picture of Taylor in her Halloween costume clearly thrilled at the prospect of candy.  After all… the sweet tooth in our family comes directly from Nannan–the rest of the food in her fridge might be moldy, but you could be guaranteed the Hershey bars on top of the fridge were nice and fresh.

Missing my Grandmother | www.amusingmj.com

Nannan also loved Christmas.  We always had a big to do with the whole family, complete with FAR too much food, too many gifts and a lot of chaos. The more chaos the more my grandmother liked it.  So this first Christmas without her will be especially hard.  Grief is like that… both predictable and unpredictable.  It hits you in the moments you expect in the most… like opening presents on Christmas morning, or in traditions that will fall by the wayside because she isn’t here to make them happen anymore.  But it also hits you in the unexpected moments, like sending out your Christmas cards. Or for me, walking into Allen Fieldhouse for the first game of the season to watch her beloved Jayhawks–in our seats near the band because she always enjoyed watching the drummers. Missing my Grandmother | www.amusingmj.com This is the last photo I have of my grandmother with Taylor.  It was taken just a few weeks before she died, and I love how it shows how much she loved Taylor.  Smitten doesn’t even begin to cover it.

My grandmother was a force to be reckoned with and had a pretty fiery personality.  She taught me a lot about how to be a strong woman and to work for the things I wanted… but also how to enjoy life. She loved her family and was NEVER afraid to speak her mind.  I am so grateful to have had 32 years of my life with her, and been able to create such a strong bond.  I miss her so much, but I’m also so glad that she had a life well lived.  And if I have my choice, I’d like to go out just like her, after a weekend of celebration and family, after 96 years and a long successful marriage, with tons of family.  May we all be so lucky.   Missing my Grandmother | www.amusingmj.com

Christmas at the New Place

This year has flown by so fast that I still feel like we just moved in, even though it was really more than 8 months ago! But your first Christmas in any house is always a bit of a trick to figure out where your decorations fit best… and even more importantly… WHERE DOES YOUR TREE GO!??! Some houses have an obvious place (i.e. in front of your beautiful picture window) but ours… not so much.  In fact, I don’t think our house has a place for a tree at all!! But we scootched around some tables and seemed to have made it work.  And I’m so pleased with the way the house turned out, that I thought I’d share it with you all! Christmas with Amusing MJ | www.amusingmj.com

The tree ended up going in the nook on the way to Taylor’s bedroom, and I love that she stops to look at it as she wanders back and forth into her room (it also DEFINITELY means that the only ornaments on the bottom 2 feet of the tree are toddler friendly!)  If you notice in the above picture that there are only two stockings, that is because somewhere in the move, Taylor’s stocking is MIA.  So I kinda need to get on ordering her a new one.  HOWEVER, my sister-in-law bought her two giant Santa sacks from Pottery Barn last year, so we may end up using that  for the year.

Christmas with Amusing MJ | www.amusingmj.com

I love these two metal reindeer, I think from Crate and Barrel a few years back, but they look super cute standing at attention on my breakfast table.

Christmas with Amusing MJ | www.amusingmj.com

And then my nativities that I have decorating our space this year.  The one in the upper right hand corner is hand carved in the Holy Land, which was a gift from my grandmother, and the bottom is just a Willow Tree nativity, but I love the simplicity of it.  It has always been a favorite of mine.  If you are new around here, you might be interested to know that my mom has a nativity collection that numbers somewhere in the 300+ range that she decorates with every year.  If you want to read the posts about it, I have written about her Swedish Christmas decor, her vast nativity collection, and the weirdest ones she has (including ducks and moose).

We did discover that our house is too tall to reach safely even with our largest ladder (thank you basements in Kansas), so after calling around to a few professionals and figuring out that it is 1. too late for that and 2. too expensive, we decided just to wrap our lovely evergreen, add a few lighted wreaths to our front window and a wreath to the door and call it good.  We at least don’t look like Scrooge.   Christmas with Amusing MJ

The above photo was taken before the addition of the Santa Bow to my evergreen wreath–speaking of– did you know that some boy scout troops (at least the one based out of our church) sell evergreen wreaths shipped fresh from the pacific northwest for pretty cheap?  I love how the fresh wreath looks and it smells UNBELIEVABLE!!

Christmas with Amusing MJ

And we definitely got in the spirit of Christmas last week because I attended a Christmas ornament and cookie exchange party, so I whipped up some gingerbread cookies from my favorite food blogger (Gimme Some Oven) and they made the whole house smell delicious!

Christmas with Amusing MJ | www.amusingmj.com

So it is the first week of December and I’ve made my first batch of Christmas cookies, wrapped a few presents, decorated the house, and remembered to take pictures and blog about it… So I’m feeling a bit like superwoman these days.  Oh and I did it all with a nasty cold.  #winning


Here is to a wonderful advent, a magical Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Taylor’s One Year Update

Taylor is a year! Actually she is now 15 months old… but I am THAT FAR BEHIND.  But I am getting back into the blogging routine, and I wanted to finish out Taylor’s monthly-ish posts for her first year. one year old birthday pictures | www.amusingmj.com

I took pictures for this post on July 4th in the afternoon and had every intention of writing this post the next day, but my grandmother (who I was extremely close to) passed away that evening, so that week was filled with her memory, family activities, and funeral preparation (I hope to post more about her next week).  But on with the one year update!

For Taylor’s first birthday (July 2) we celebrated at my family’s lakehouse where I spent the vast majority of my childhood summer vacations and it was so fun to be able to share that with Taylor. My grandmother, Nannan, was there, along with my parents, my older brother and my niece and Reese.  We made Taylor a chocolate sheet cake and even though she hadn’t had much sugar before and is an insanely picky eater, she LOVED her chocolate cake… I guess that apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!

Taylor's first birthday party | www.amusingmj.com

By her first birthday she had 8 teeth, was cruising around pretty good around furniture and crawling all over the place.  She says a few hard to discern words, but we are pretty sure they are hi, dog dog and dada.  Here is the sign I made for her birthday:

Birthday Chalkboard | www.amusingmj.com

I love this little girl and her goofy smiles.  She is such a ham, she loves playing to an audience,  and smiles a lot!

one year old birthday pictures | www.amusingmj.com

She is a super picky eater, but still loves sweet potatoes, bananas, avocados, yogurt and PUFFS.  She has learned to blow kisses, which looks more like covering her mouth with a wide open hand, but she is so cute doing it and it makes her laugh!