Happy Holidays from Chez Ary!
Family, Friends, Loved Ones, and Strangers,
If you’ve landed on the blog for the first time from our card, welcome! This is meant to be a spin on the traditional “annual family update” that finds its way into Christmas greetings across the land. I hope you’ll like getting a glimpse into our world. I know I’ll be glad to have this to look back on next year!
Well, let’s get straight to it, this year has been the year of BABY! We are so in love with little E. He is a wonderful baby, and we delight in his every coo and squeak. We prepared for his birth by reading a lot and studying the Bradley Method, a 12-week series focused on husband-coached, natural childbirth. We had a wonderful birthing experience at Vanderbilt, and our little guy is happy and healthy. He is growing like a weed! E is starting to be very interactive, and his smile will melt your heart. He loves his new play mat featuring lots of dangly animals and noises to capture his attention.
Our pregnancy announcement on the blog
We were so fortunate to have several showers in honor of the baby. We have very generous family and friends who helped us outfit and stock up for baby. From all of the necessities to wonderful handmade gifts, we loved and appreciated it all!
In February, we traded in the less practical truck and bought Stella, the family wagon. She’s a Toyota Highlander that fits the whole family (including a car seat, stroller, and grandparents!). It’s a very nice and comfortable vehicle, and the extra room comes in handy when we have to pack up the whole house to go somewhere.
We “nested” and prepared the house for baby in many ways. After morning sickness cleared, we spent several weekends in the front yard working on the landscaping. We had quite the time replacing a dead tree out front. We sweated our brows off, worked our heineys off, and ended up with a beautiful white crepe myrtle. We also replaced a few other plants; put out fresh mulch; added edging stones; put out top soil, fertilizer, and seed; added knock out roses around the mailbox; and planted petunias in our hanging baskets. Woo…I’m worn out just thinking about it.
Closer to the end of the pregnancy, we got busy with several wood working projects. We installed crown molding in our great room (the connected/open kitchen and living room), put up window trim and sills, build a king-sized bed, and several other small things. It was a lot of fun!
Of course, we also prepared a wonderful nursery for the baby. Mr. J surprised me by painting the nursery over Memorial Day while I was travelling to visit family. The walls are gray and burnt orange. The “theme” is little monsters. His bedding is cartoon dinosaurs, and he has locally-created posters of baby versions of traditional monsters: The Kraken, Loch Ness, and Chupacabra. We also included Mr. J’s collection of baby dragons from his childhood. So cute! We are proud of the book gallery on one wall of the nursery. We have purchased and received TONS of books, and we can’t wait to share these with E as he grows.
We celebrated our 4th anniversary in June. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long…especially if we include 7 years of dating before marriage. We celebrated with a “baby moon” to Atlanta. Highlights included eating at Maggiano’s for the first time, a first trip to Ikea, and hunting for special items for baby. We also spent lots of time thinking up names.
Other milestones of the year included a quick trip to Chattanooga, our first time at the roller derby, and a Predators game (another new experience for us). When we went to Chattanooga, the baby hadn’t even been home one week. We had a great time with Nana and Poppy and did lots of touristy things. It was an adventure but travelling with a newborn is quite do-able!
I celebrated my one year anniversary with a wonderful company, Journal Communications, in July. Since the spring, my role has been to manage the workflow, work assignments, and timeline of projects as they move through the creative department. In February, I enjoyed helping out on the Company Conference and Quality Awards. I served on the committee that made lots of fun videos for the events. I even starred in the Conference opener and led a session on Tablet Trends. I headed up the decoration committee for the Awards and enjoyed making lots of fresh flower centerpieces and balloon towers. I was so shocked and proud to win the company’s Charlie Taylor Award, which is commemorated with a small, red Chuck Taylor. I also wrote some guest blogs for the ag segment’s recipe website, FarmFlavor.com. After 12 weeks of maternity leave, I’ll return to my job on December 19th.
Mr. J continues to enjoy his job writing software for Cassidian Communications. Most of the year has been focused on creating a map-driven emergency notification system for the French Fire Brigade in 2013. If you’ve been around tornado sirens, hurricane alerts, or received mass texts from school or work about something happening on campus, roll them all up into one system with a map for selecting affected areas and you get the general idea. It’s allowed him to continue to tinker with some of his favorite technologies and learn a great deal more about some of the new and upcoming things in the market. Rumor has it Mr J’s going to be spending the next few months worth of weekends held up in his office writing a book to be released in 2013 about one of his main focuses in his field. He’s excited about that one!
Tucker and Oscar are doing great. They’re still on their grain-free diet and love their daily Greenie (a special treat for clean teeth). Favorite toys include a squirrel house and its 3 inhabitants, a pink octopus, a squeaky snake, and “red,” a canvas-covered Kong. They’re adjusting to the baby, but their whole world is a little different now. They can be found sitting next to whomever is holding the baby, especially Oscar – the mama dog. You would have thought he had his own litter of puppies. He didn’t eat, sleep, or play for 3 days after we brought E home. Silly boy!
I took several more cooking classes at the Viking Cooking School in the early part of the year. Most of them were gifts from Mr. J for Christmas 2011. The classes were Southern Italian Dinner Party, Knife Skills II, Fish Cookery I, and Tuscan Dinner Party. They are so much fun. I learned a lot, and the dishes were delicious as always!
After taking a break from the blog during the pregnancy due to food aversions and tiredness, I’m back to posting on BettyBecca.com. I’m glad to be back posting on a regular basis and cooking more often these days. You can subscribe to email updates on the right. We’ll be celebrating the blog’s 2nd birthday at the end of January!
Mr. J and I were regulars at the farmers’ market this year. I couldn’t get enough veggies, and they did little E lots of good! We have a favorite farmer we visited every week. He was so sweet – not only sharing his bounty of veggies but fun stories and admiration about his own children. He was very happy to meet E at the end of the season.
I continue to serve on the wedding and flower guilds at First Presbyterian Church in Murfreesboro. These two committees help me to exercise in two of my favorite hobby fields.
Mr. J has has leaned on some of his old favorite hobbies in his free time, and as usual, picked up a new one here and there. He’s dabbled with more woodworking this year, honing the end-grain cutting board process to his liking. He also invested in a road bike this year and trainer for a 37-mile ride that he completed in October on the freshly paved, not yet opened section of 840 around Leiper’s Fork. It’s the one and only time anyone will be allowed to ride it, and I think he’s pretty proud of that one. On nice weekends, he’s been discovering the many places Middle TN offers fishing for trout and bass and he’s recently started to learn flyfishing…at least I think that’s what all the pole waving and line tangles in the back yard are about. It turns out that Dachshunds make really nice cast targets (don’t worry, there’s no hooks, they don’t really seem to care after a sniff or two)!
Plans for 2013
I’m sure the year will center around the baby, and we’ll love every minute of it. In the spring, Mr. J hopes to purchase a fishing boat to further explore his favorite hobby. I foresee lots of fishing trips this year. I know he hopes to spend some quality time with his dad and looks forward to when E can join them!
Read my cooking resolutions. My overall resolution is the same this year as it was last year…to live on purpose.
- Eat good food
- Spend quality time with family and friends
- Learn new things
- Grow and enrich my life with experiences that are different than my norm
- Pay attention and not let any moments slip by
On behalf of all of us at Chez Ary, I hope that everyone in your household is happy and well. Best of wishes for a wonderful holiday season!
Betty Becca, Mr. J, & Chicken