The life and words of Ashley, Erin, and Michelle

Whatever happened to December?? December 17, 2009

Filed under: Journaling,Life in General,Photos — michellehuegel @ 10:37 pm
Tags: , , , ,

If you’ve been avidly following my December journaling adventures (hah!), you may have noticed that they suddenly ceased. Well, there’s a reason for that. But I’m not telling. I will, however, provide you with the missing Day 5. 🙂

Dec. 5th

Practicing for the church Christmas musical today helped restore a little of my elusive Christmas spirit. Although “practice” may not be the right word for Josh, Cai, and I did: entered the stage when told, sat on a bench, and accepted gifts from the four wise men and women (didn’t know there were four, huh? Guess you’ll have to come see Bertrand Bible Church’s Christmas play on December 13 to hear the story!). Then we exited stage right. I think. No, it was our left, so stage left. Right? Good thing I’m not an actor, that always confused me. Cai had a blast crawling up and down the stage risers when he wasn’t sitting (not) quietly on my lap, and I think the whole musical will turn out great. Tim Blake always does an awesome job of writing and directing!

After practice and a quick emergency stop at Wal-mart to find a shirt to wear for family pictures later, I checked out Brandywine High school’s Christmas bazaar. Actually they called it a holiday bazaar, but that’s a personal pet peeve of mine. Although I didn’t find any Christmas gifts, I did connect with a couple area writers who are forming a Niles-area writer’s club! What perfect timing! God truly works in mysterious ways—I’m so glad I followed His prompting to go scope out the bazaar!

Due to my serendipitous meeting, we barely squeaked into our appointment at Picture People, which was absolutely swamped. Everybody and their mother-in-law came for family Christmas pictures today! Cai didn’t cooperate all that well—he either raced away the minute we posed him or wailed. I’m very impressed with our photographer, who still managed to capture some adorable shots. She has a very quick trigger finger.

And speaking of mothers-in-law, we met up with her and my sister-in-law after the photo shoot, and she helped with the monumental task of choosing just a couple of pictures from all the amazing ones. I dread that part. I just want them all! We had a great visit with them and Josh’s grandma that evening. Cai sure enjoyed all the attention! I wonder if he’s getting spoiled. When he doesn’t get his way, he screams and growls. Which, of course, everyone finds hilarious and laughs at him, which doesn’t really reinforce the “no.” Oh well. We’ve got time. Did I mention it’s his first Christmas? Nothing better for Christmas spirit than watching a child experience Christmas lights, trees, ornaments, Santa, Christmas cookies, and presents for the first time! I’m loving it!


December Daily Day 8 December 9, 2009

Filed under: Life in General,Photos — michellehuegel @ 12:30 pm
Tags: , ,

Today marked my second day of enforced cleaning isolation. Thankfully I got the majority of cleaning finished by about 3pm, and Grandma got to see her grandbaby! To be perfectly honest, it’s not 100% clean like some people’s houses I know. But that’s just not happening for us at this point in our lives. Josh still needs to mop our three small areas of linoleum, and I need to clear off the catch-all table by the front door and do some filing. But otherwise, the clutter is put away, floors vacuumed, sinks and counters scrubbed, laundry manageable. As long as I’m happy it’s all good – because I’m the mom! Hah!

I started on the first page of my hybrid calendars. Twice. The first time my computer overheated and died. Second time Photoshop crashed. This is not an auspicious start. I’m nothing if not gosh-darned stubborn, though, so if/when Cai naps tomorrow, I’ll remember to plug in my cooling fan and save every three seconds. Here’s the templates I’m starting with. I’ll include pictures of the finished products too (assuming I ever get that far!). Right now the plan is to buy photo ink and nice matte photo paper for my parents’ printer and print them at home. I can do multiple to a page and make sure everything is how I want it. Not sure if it will end up cheaper or more expensive than having them printed somewhere else. But I like the control. I know that’s a shock to some of you…

Cai’s getting sicker. He ran a fever tonight, poor cheeks were so flushed, and you could just tell he was miserable. I don’t anticipate a good night. We’re all praying that this bug runs its course before Christmas – we’re leaving the 18th to travel for a week to both of my grandparents, one in Iowa and the other in St. Louis. It’s just not Christmas without traveling to see family, but it would be pretty miserable with a sick anyone.

PS – A certain observant someone brought to my attention the fact that I somehow missed posting Day 5. Obviously I can’t count (I’m an English major, remember??). So I will post it later today 🙂 – I’m sure you all are dying to know what excitement swept the Huegel household on December 5, right?!


December Drama Days 6 and 7 December 7, 2009

Regurgitated directly from my brain for your reading … uh … pleasure. I hope.

Dec. 6th

After church and an amazing lunch at my mom’s (we’re all enjoying the fruits of her being home instead of working all day!), we spent the day with Josh’s family. I always enjoy that time, because they take over Cai and let me chill out with my computer or TV or whatever! “Nana” insists on feeding, changing, playing with, and cuddling him—which gives me a much-needed break! I wish they could see him more often, but once a week or every other week is the most we can afford to get down to Mishawaka. Gas is expensive. L

I spent most the afternoon shopping for and poring over Christmas calendar gift ideas. Everyone seemed to like them last year, but I don’t want to do the same exact thing (digital-scrap 4×6 size pages, insert into photo flip books, paper-scrap-decorate front cover). So I FINALLY settled on some cute CD and mini (smaller than 4×6) calendar templates. I had no clue how many options were out there! Wish I had time to design my own from scrap, but unfortunately using templates and choosing my own paper/embellies is as good as it’s gonna get this year. I mean, with a new baby, something’s gotta go, right? I still haven’t decided on a Christmas card. Too many options. I really don’t do well with an overabundance of choices. Entrepreneurs have oversaturated the market (any market) with waaaay too many options. Hazardous for decision-challenged shoppers like me!

Dec. 7th

Can it possibly be one whole week into December?! Where did the days go?? Oh yeah, I have a documented record of where they went, so no funny business possible. Today I furthered my Christmas spirit by playing Cat Country 99.9 (all-Christmas music all the time in December!) while madly cleaning. Finally eked out a place for stockings on the wall behind our midget tree. My immediate family never did the stocking thing, but my Lewis grandparents always hung a stocking for each grandchild, and it’s a family tradition to get a picture of all the kids in front of the “stocking wall” every Christmas. Over the years, there has been some discussion of changing walls, since we really don’t fit anymore. One line of grandkids has become about three rows! There’s now 12 “full-blooded” grandkids, but usually there’s extra every year—foreign exchange students, foster kids of my aunt’s, step-grandkids, boyfriends, etc. All that to say, I’ve always loved opening my stocking, stuffed full of fun and useful little goodies, candy, gum, and so on. So the Huegel household is going to open stockings this year :). A new tradition we’re going to start is writing letters to each other to stick in the stockings, which will hopefully become a sweet keepsake. Or that’s the plan. Maybe it’ll be really lame. But every great tradition must start sometime, right?

On a more depressing note, Cai fussed through most the day. I’m fairly impressed with how much I got done despite his rough day. Spent two hours trying to get him down for a nap, and still ended up letting him cry himself to sleep. Same story for bedtime. As I write this, it’s 10:27, and he just finally quit crying in his crib within the last few minutes. I put him to bed for the first time before 8pm.  We had been doing much better, so I suspect he’s not feeling well. At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself. It’s easier to feel sorry and “motherly” for him instead of irritated that way. Any mothers out there who’ve done the same thing? Maybe I’m just weird or something. Wait, I already knew that…

So anyone else out there making Christmas gifts? What are you making? Cookies, handmade cards, photo books, calendars, scarves, potholders? I need more ideas! 🙂


December, Day Four December 4, 2009

Filed under: Journaling,Life in General — michellehuegel @ 11:36 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I’m not feeling very “merry and bright” today. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much in December before. Journaling today helped to work through some of my feelings, but it’ll be a long time before the Phaeon-sized hole in my heart begins to heal. Read on for the whole story…

Dec 4th

December’s really not looking up. Today I made about 10 phone calls trying to clear up a tax matter, which was depressing enough (apparently sheds on leased land are taxed, which was news to me). Then my husband gets home from the store and delivers the news that my dog Phaeon died. He was hit by a car. The worst part is my little brother watched it happen, tried to get the lady’s attention—the jerk never even slowed down—and then he had to carry Phaeon back to the house. I am thankful that it appeared to be an instant death with no suffering.

But all day we’ve been (or at least I have been) dealing with the question, why now, God? Why him? Yes, Phaeon was annoying at times, and dealing with his allergies was expensive and frustrating. But we loved him! I’ll miss his warm body tucked in the chair with me, fighting a constant battle because he insisted on putting his head on my keyboard. I’ll miss the way he came running whenever someone ran the icemaker in the fridge, and how he loved to lay on the back of the chair like a cat and stare out the window. He loved me through living on my own and moving back home, through several boyfriends and finally finding the right guy, and he helped to welcome my son into the world. He never minded when Cai would pull his fur or poke little fingers in his ears.

Phaeon’s left a little hole in Christmas for us this year. He and Cadbury were in our Christmas card photo last year—he’s family. We buried him behind the pool at my parents’ house where we can visit him and know he’s nearby. It’s been a rough day. Most of my Christmas spirit blew away like so much dry snow when I petted my dog for the last time.

Have you ever lost a pet? This is the first time I’ve buried a dearly loved pet, and I never imagined it would be so hard. They are truly a part of the family, right?


December Days (2 and 3) December 3, 2009

Filed under: Life in General — michellehuegel @ 11:07 pm
Tags: , , ,

With no further ado, since I ado’d pretty extensively in my journal (no clue yet how I’m going to fit all that adoing in a mini-scrapbook…), here are my journal entries for December, days two and three. How are you doing on yours?

Dec 2nd

Unfortunately, day two wasn’t any less stressful. My dog (as Josh so clearly defines him) messed in his kennel, making the whole house stink. My little brother came over to help clean him up, albeit grudgingly. But let me say again—Thank you, Timothy! For some reason dog mess just does me in. It was the one thing when I was pregnant that sent me running for the bathroom. I just don’t cope as well with dog stress. Which is why, sadly, we’re looking for a new home for Cadbury. He’s such a sweetie when he’s not yipping nonstop in his kennel or making messes. In reality, I know the messes are mostly my fault because I don’t take him out often enough and give him the playtime he needs. We finally decided that something had to go, and it wasn’t going to be Cai! Dogs sometimes take as much time and attention as a baby.

Back to the holidays… the tree now sports two strands of lights, silver tinsel, and ALL of the ornaments! Since it’s quite a small tree, our 50+ ornaments really fill it out. My parents and Lewis grandparents have both given me a Hallmark ornament each year since I was born, and some years an extra for one reason or another, so I’ve amassed quite a collection. Josh and I have decided to continue the tradition for Cai, and his first ornament from us is an adorable classic Pooh one!

We also accomplished moving a pile of boxes and stuff out to the shed, and I rearranged and finished decorating the living room. Overall I feel pretty good about what I accomplished.

Cai’s been teething, poor little guy, and so he made everything 10x more difficult by being fussy and clingy. Can’t really blame him, though. I understand tooth pain all too well! I read somewhere that if adults had to go through what babies do when cutting new teeth, we would actually go into shock—our bodies couldn’t handle it. Gives you a new respect for babies, right? Of course now he’s grinning at me and trying to sneak a hand onto my keyboard. So hard to rebuke him when he’s grinning like that!! I missed my last Bible study at church tonight because he needed mama’s snuggles, but I can always go to another Bible study. He won’t always need his mama to hug and kiss and sing him to sleep, so I’m going to enjoy it while I can. 🙂

Dec 3rd

Today I channeled my Christmas spirit into a spankin’ new hair color—bright Christmasy red! Or at least a nice shade of coppery auburn! (Pictures to come…) Now maybe when I’m out shopping or whatnot with my unmistakably redheaded son, people won’t ask “So where’d he get his red hair?”

If you have a similar problem, here’s three fun responses guaranteed to quell any further conversation attempts:

  1. My husband’s brother has red hair.
  2. God was temporarily colorblind and mixed up his hair with the Irish kid across the ocean.
  3. The mailman (an oldie but a goodie)!

Let me know how those work for you. 🙂

But back to day three of December—big news all over town today, of course, was SNOW! The first tentative flakes (in some places not-so-tentative, I hear, but I think I was plastered in red goo reading a magazine when the braver flakes ventured forth) drifted down today in Niles. My mother insists we had snow earlier this fall, but since I didn’t see it and it didn’t stick around to be seen, it doesn’t count in my book. Today’s snow struggled with an identity crisis, however, and waffled between rain, sleet, freezing rain (I really wish somebody could explain to me the difference between sleet and freezing rain), and snow. It didn’t stick very well either. I’m actually quite disappointed in the whole affair. If it’s going to be wet and gray and icky and freezing cold we may as well have a foot of pretty white snow to soften the blow. According to the weathermen (who are ALWAYS right) we “have an 8” snow deficit”, which in layman’s terms means God is saving up to dump a whole foot or two of fluffy beautiful snow on Christmas Eve. Right? Makes sense to me.

Does your family give Hallmark ornaments for Christmas? Or do you have another favorite family tradition? I’d love to hear them–Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday, and it’s so fun to carry on old traditions and begin new ones with my own little family!!


December: Day One December 1, 2009

Filed under: Journaling,Life in General — michellehuegel @ 11:05 pm
Tags: , , ,

Ever wonder how the holidays seem to creep up then fly by? In an effort to pin them down and get my full month’s worth of Christmas spirit and enjoyment, I’m endeavoring to keep a December daily journal. The plan is to take pictures every day as well, and create a mini-scrapbook. Since this is Cai’s first Christmas, it should make a sweet keepsake for him to look at later! Plus then we’ll have solid proof that December is actually one full month long, not just two and half days of whirlwind relative visiting, present buying/wrapping/opening (sometimes all in the same day), and Christmas story reading. Why don’t you join me? Here’s my entry for day one:

Tussling with tinsel, lassoing lights, and arguing about ornaments: we sure know how to deck the halls in the Lewis/Huegel house! Although we picked out our tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving, it’s taken three more days to get the tree in the correct position (a large desk, chair, rolling cart, and several boxes of stuff had to be moved and an entire shed cleaned out first), one strand of lights hung, and four ornaments placed just-so.

I’ve also managed to string up some lights and garland between our living room and dining room, unpack and display a nativity set, two angels, a couple bunches of fake greenery, and several silver taper candles left over from our wedding. Despite our best efforts, it’s starting to look festive around here, if a little spotty. I even dusted! Sad that I can’t remember the last time I dusted certain shelves!

I was feeling pretty frustrated tonight with our lack of Christmas-decorating progress, until I turned on some Christmas music and remembered why we do all this crazy stuff—because Jesus came as a sweet baby boy to live among us and then gave his life for us. Kind of puts my pouty mood in its rightful place—out in the trash can with all the strands of dead Christmas lights!


More, More, MORE! November 24, 2009

Filed under: Life in General — Erin Joy @ 12:00 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Hi, I’m 24 years old, and I have my first retail job this Christmas season.

There, I’ve said it. It’s out in the open. I feel so much better now.

Most people get one while they’re in high school, but my parents decided that they wanted us to focus on being kids and having fun rather than worrying about car payments and such. The logic has its ups and downs, but there’s nothing I can change about that now.

First thing I’ve noticed is that Christmas starts the moment Halloween is over.

Being in the mall significantly more often this season has made me see commercialized Christmas in a whole new way. I mean, I knew we were horrible about it, but this year it’s repeatedly thrown in my face.

I keep seeing the overuse of the word “more”, and it frustrates me to no end. One store has it on every sign they put out. It’s bigger than any other words in the advertisement, and all it makes me think of is that greedy girl, Veruca Salt, in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Another store sent out advertisements saying that “Joy is just a click away.” Real joy, my friends, is not just a click away. Actually, when I start clicking away, my stress level rises and my joy is definitely not present, even if it is part of my name.

And then there’s the whole idea of Black Friday. I know a lot of people love going out and getting these amazing deals after standing in line at ridiculous hours that morning, but I dread the idea that I now have to work that day. The idea of fighting traffic with the same people who have been planning their schedules for months makes me apprehensive. I’m just thankful we don’t have snow yet this year. (But that’s still a couple days away, so who knows?)

So, how do I avoid the holiday pressures while working at the mall? I’m not sure. I’m still trying to figure that one out. And just think: sales are so much harder to resist with an employee discount!

What about you? How do you avoid all the stress and pressure of the sales? If you do, have you any suggestions for the rest of us who are much more easily (and as guiltily) swayed by them?