new fav place

Thanks to K.Starr for directing me to my new favorite blog.  Blogs are such a unique opportunity to share our lives with our loved ones and make friends with strangers.  They are a creative outlet, a journal, an inspiration.  Sometimes they are a burden, but then I can simply disappear for as long as it takes to get my creative blogging juices going (side note:  what DID I blog about before Hazel?  need to work on a better diversity in my subject matter).

I encourage you to check out: 

life in grace

As many of you know, I LOVE being Lutheran.  My Lutheran family has supported me and provided for me in more ways than I can even mention.  But let's start with the basics:  a husband and brother-in-law.  Good stuff, trust me!  Edie, the blogger behind LifeInGrace is a fairly new Lutheran and I'm truly enjoying reading about her faith.  She articulates things so beautifully that I find myself wanting to shout MARTIN LUTHER IS THE COOLEST from the roof tops!  Being Lutheran is as simple as believing in being saved by grace.  That's it.  So simple and yet so gorgeously freeing and intricate. 

Edie also blogs about her home renovations.  Yup, another one of those moms who have an amazing house and make crafts look easy.  I'm half convinced these moms are aliens... but I shouldn't talk about my religion and extra-terrestrials in the same post.  Edie and her family lost their gorgeous home to a house fire right before Christmas.  Let's pause for a moment to think about how devastating that would be.  A moment letting my mind walk that path is about all I have the strength for.  So, join me in praying for Edie and her family that they may find the strength to deal with this disaster and that they find comfort in knowing that their heavenly home will never disappear.


It's a GIRL!

I'm so excited that I will be the mama to TWO girls!  Granted, I'm a little sad that I don't get to experience the opposite gender, but I have so much experience with girls... not to mention getting twice the use out of Hazel's extensive wardrobe and play-things.  Plus, though I hate to admit it, 'cause my sister reads this blog :)... there's something wonderful about having a sister!  It's unlike any other relationship and I'm very glad that my girls will have that special relationship.

Actually, this early morning post was inspired after watching my little girl-y nugget carry around her new doll (thanks Gma B), wrap her repeatedly in a blanket, pull out foods from her oven and offer it to her doll, etc.  Before we had kids, my husband and I were firm on the fact that we wouldn't gender stereotype our kids. 

Girls can love trucks, boys can love dolls.  Try as I might, I cannot get Hazel to play with her cars or build block towers.  Nope, she wants to push doll strollers, explore the kitchen, take care of her dolls.  It's truly an eye opening experience for me!  In fact, when I clean, she mimics me!  She'll grab a rag and "dust", she'll roll her IKEA popper while I vacuum, get the picture? 

Getting to watch Hazel with her 3-month old cousin, Annaliese has been very heart warming (for me, a little terrifying for Annie's mom).  All Hazel wants to do is stare at her, pet her, hug/crush her, kiss her (which is a LITTLE annoying since she typically refuses to give kisses to her parents!), and when Annaliese is not around, Hazel says "baby.  baby.  BABY.  baby.  baby."...

Yes, I think our house is ready for another girl to join us, I just hope she's a little more patient and not 5-weeks early!


Coordinating a lovely Christmas

It's the most wonderful time of the year. No, not the presents or even the abundance of favorite foods... it's the family time and special moments that made this Christmas my all-time favorite.

The Kosker Trio...actually, we're a Quartet (hello baby bump!)

Hazel and my parents smooching on our favorite Christmas present... my niece from Alaska!
Yesterday I was dutifully writing my lists of presents received.  By the end, I was feeling really Grinch-ish.  SO MANY GIFTS... SO MUCH STUFF.  I should feel grateful... I do... but I also feel guilt and burdened.  My husband thinks I'm crazy, but has come to believe that I'm telling the truth and that I prefer one or two really nice and thoughtful gifts over lots and lots of boxes to open.  Certainly, not the way I felt when I was a kid... but now that I'm in charge with running a house and finding a place for everything... and paying the bills, I have a whole new outlook on possessions.  My trio was mightily spoiled by our loved ones this year.  So, thanks to our families for spoiling us despite my Grinch-ish tendencies!  I'll just continue to work on being a grateful receiver as I snuggle into my comfy cardigan from my m-i-l (perfect gift for a preggo!), put on my string of Bead for Life beads from my parents, prep a dinner in my gorgeous new oven, upload pics into my digital picture frame from b-i-l and pack my adorable sister-made purse (no offense to the multitude of gifts not mentioned, you are appreciated too!).

Hazel LOVED opening presents (I feel as though I should write a Wikipedia entry on over-stimulation) and is having a ball playing with her new things.  Our favorite is an upcycled stove top that Grandpa Orris fit into a wooden oven.  Hazel is mighty lucky to have one of Santa's elves for a grandpa!  His woodshop has created quite a few favorite gifts and I see many more coming from there in the future!

Isn't her black velvet dress with a satin rose trimed neckline paired with her magenta tights and sweater ADORABLE?  I could seriously eat this child.  My husband was so proud of me for not putting her in red and green :)  If you noticed earlier, I couldn't resist and dressed myself and Jake in black for Christmas.  Too matchy-matchy for you?  I can literally feel my style-guru bff, Whitney, beginning to boil.  (SORRY, I listen, truly I do, but I LOVE to coordinate!)  Well, hold onto your britches because I coordinated one more Christmas surprise in honor of all the girls in my nuclear family being together.  Ready?  (you can never be truly ready for this!)

Step 1

Step 2

DRUM ROLL PLEASE>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Step 3

...And to all a GOOD NIGHT (preferably in matching pjs!).


Christmas reflections

This year I have been uber excited for the approaching Christmas holiday.  Perhaps it's because I sing in a community choir and have been practicing Christmas music since September.  Perhaps it's because I have a wee one to share it with who although doesn't understand about the wonderful Christmas Eve church service or the presents hidden in closets or the relatives preparing their visits, still loves standing and staring at the Christmas tree, looking at nativities, and finding treats in her Advent calendar.  Perhaps it's because this is our first Christmas in OUR house with OUR traditions being created.

I wish I could claim that I haven't had my Grinch-ish moments, but until I learn to be OK with giving gifts within my budget, I will struggle with the want to give nice gifts and the guilt of spending outside of my budget.  I love hosting company, but struggle with the desire for a cleaner, more organized house full of delicious gourmet treats.  (why doesn't Santa leave House Elves... you know, Harry Potter style?)

However, all in all, the magic of this season is not wasted on me.  Below is a poem my cousin, Kathe, sent me this morning.  It brought me a bit more of those warm fuzzy Christmas feelings and I hope it brings some to you.  If not, I've got you covered:  Later today, I plan to get my hands on my sister's camera and post a picture of Hazel kissing her baby cousin.  SO sweet!

by Anne Porter

When snow is shaken
From the balsam trees
And they're cut down
And brought into our houses

When clustered sparks
Of many-colored fire
Appear at night
In ordinary windows

We hear and sing
The customary carols
They bring us ragged miracles
And hay and candles
And flowering weeds of poetry
That are loved all the more
Because they are so common
But there are carols
That carry phrases

Of the haunting music
Of the other world
A music wild and dangerous
As a prophet's message

Or the fresh truth of children
Who though they come to us
From our own bodies
Are altogether new
With their small limbs
And birdlike voices

They look at us
With their clear eyes
And ask the piercing questions
God alone can answer.


Dear Santa

Dear Santa,
I want your full attention


I've been looking at lots of books, learning about Jesus' birth and how we celebrate by giving gifts to our families. I think this is a GREAT idea.

However, I'm a little worried that sometimes you hear my dada call me "a beast" and you heard my mama telling dada yesterday that I'm "getting a difficult temperment". Not sure what that means, but I think it might be a bad thing.
I ASSURE you that I'm a happy sweet girl as long as my schedule is followed and strangers (sorry Santa, but it's true) give me time to warm-up before grabbing me. What else is an almost 18 month old supposed to do when naps are ignored, babies are chained down in long car rides and I'm taken to non-baby proofed places where I'm not allowed to run free?

Anyway, I've taken (with a little help) a few photos today to show you what a great girl I am... in fact, I also overheard mama telling dada that I'm "growing up" and I'm a "great little helper". So, if you need another elf to help you (eat cookies) on Christmas, I'm your girl!

My babysitter gave me a doll high chair and stroller and I've been dabbling with pretend play with my dolls.  I hear I'm gonna have a LITTLE SISTER soon, so I need the practice!  This is me feeding the hungry...

...and then helping her eat her snack

One of my favorite things to do is dance with my parents.  They are total dorks about it, but it's a lot of fun!  Today I forced dada to take a break from building shelves and we had a Jingle Bell Rock Party.
I even practiced my driving skills in case you drink a little too much eggnog.
I helped mama wrap the presents I made... but she got annoyed that I liked to walk on the crisp wrapping paper and pull the tape out as far as I could from the dispenser.
I can be a really really good sleeper.  When I'm home and on my own schedule, I'll give the "I'm sleepy" sign and wait by the stairs until someone takes me to my bed.  I'll be taking really good naps all week so that I'm rested in case you need my help!
To spread Christmas cheer, I made sure to spend time with my great grandparents.
...and listened attentively to the Christmas story.

So Santa, as you can see, I had a really busy and HELP-FULL day.  I can't wait to see what you bring to my house :)



Snow Day Whoopsie

It's a SNOW DAY!  It never looses its glory.  All of a sudden, I have an entire day to do WHATEVER I WANT.  Ok, that's not true, what I want to do is put on my pjs and read a fluff novel.  What I will do is make a few Christmas crafts (which I can't tell you about until after Christmas), cook a nice dinner, do a little toy organizing (a never ending duty) and start some Christmas wrapping!  WOOHOO!

Now, why did I title this "Snow Day Whoopsie"?  Guess who was the ONLY one at work this morning?  LOOoooser.  Kinda like the time I was the only one to dress up for Hippie Day (it was the following week and shy, preteen Julie was MORTIFIED).

I shouldn't say that I was the only one this morning.  There were custodians and one rather sheepish tech guy... who came to apologize for not entering my phone number into the call system.  Now I just need to figure out who didn't call into the radio station that I listened to this morning, a radio station that is included on the school districts list of who to listen to. 

Oh well, at least my daughter is still in her pjs and having a wonderful morning with her grandparents Orris and her mama.  I didn't get home in time for Jake to leave for work, so he dropped her off with our neighbors (afore mentioned gparents)... and then FORGOT TO CALL ME.  LOOOooooser AGAIN!  He got a rather frustrated phone call when I arrived home to discover an empty house.

All in all, I'll forgive my morning whoopsies because I HAVE A SNOW DAY, NAH NAH NAH NAH NAH!


Working Mom Dress Rehearsal

The past month, I've been "trying on" the idea of a full-time working mom.  I accepted a long-term substitute school counselor position.  The PERFECT opportunity for me to really see how that works for my family.  (FYI:  I'm off today because my babysitter was unavailable, but then will work full days for the rest of the week.)

PROS:  it feels good to be a professional!  I enjoy my career (which was a pleasant and semi-unexpected rediscovery).  I'm in a small school with about 70 kids in each grade, grades 7-12.  SLOWLY, students are figuring out who I am and drifting in for college guidance, friendship issues, family troubles...  I love how my career offers such a cornucopia of things to do!  One minute I'm writing an article for the monthly newsletter that the counselor disperses, the next minute I'm researching colleges and brainstorming with a student, then it's crisis mode to help a young teen who has lost all her friends, and finally a meeting with a team of teachers to discuss student concerns. 

Also, though the 7am start time is DIFFICULT, it is good for me to be forced to be up, clean, and dressed... it's so true that I am more efficient when there is a set timetable.  (Not to mention the new clothes that are a necessity for being a professional!)  And lastly, the PAYCHECK with the future possibility of HEALTH INSURANCE (if this turned into a permanent position).

CONS:  Hazel who?!  I might get a few minutes with her in the morning, but then most days I don't get home till 5:30.  She goes to bed at 7.  See the problem?  UNACCEPTABLE!  She has a wonderful babysitter, but I hate not knowing exactly what she ate, played with, hours slept...  Not to mention that she is a SPONGE and I want to be the one teaching her and watching her grow.  The mornings are also a big shift for my husband who has to wake up an hour earlier...which is a big deal for a guy that tends to start major home improvement projects at 10pm.  Add to this the cost of a babysitter and once baby #2 comes along, I'll bring home less than 1/2 a paycheck! 

WHAT ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE THAT NEEDS TO GET DONE?  How is it possible to get a healthy home cooked dinner on the table every night?  Especially when my baby is ready to eat the minute we walk through the door?  What about Doctors appointments and the multitude of phone calls it takes to keep a house running?  When do people do these things?  I haven't even mentioned grocery shopping and cleaning the house.  Seriously, all on SATURDAY?  And where do I get this vast pool of energy from? 

It's such a tough decision.  I've been talking with some of my coworkers and the moms of young ones seem to all wish they could stay home, but feel that it isn't an option.  They need the money, the health insurance, the difficulties of getting another job in this rural area...  Major concerns, yes.  The "seasoned" moms seem to think that they'd be BORED if they stayed home.  Probably some people would, but that concept blows my mind.  Actually, the woman I'm subbing for is on maternity leave and has been texting coworkers about being bored and the lack of good daytime TV.  So clearly, there are many people who are truly happier working.  A good thing for me to remember... and accept that I am not one of them (or maybe my baby was just a little more difficult.  I was too busy soothing cries to even think about the boob-tube.)

Right now, I can say without a hesitation, that working full-time isn't what is best for my family.  Yes, we need the money, but my husband and I are pretty good with stretching a dollar and have always figured things out.  I think that a 1/2 time position would be the best of both worlds... getting to spend most of the day with Hazel while still having a balanced household budget.  As for health insurance, my husband and kids are covered (he through his work, the kids through the state), so I will be content with an inexpensive emergency plan... and stay away from germs!  So, we'll wait and see what choices we have in the future.  For now, I'm THRILLED that I'll be switching to 1/2 days for January and February (a necessity to keep my pregnant woman health insurance).  I need a little more sanity in my day-to-day routine.



Today is not actually a snow day.  Though it would be if we were in Oregon.  Then I'd be sipping a Dutch Bros Vanilla Latte... ooo... major craving.

Today IS the first day of December and our first true snow.

 Today is also the first day on our ADVENT calendar.  (note:  Sunday was the first day of Advent, but the calendars typically have 25 days on them, so December 1st is the unofficial first day of Advent). 

now, I'm not one to brag (or am I?), but I have the coolest Advent calendar.  I've blogged about it before, but I love it SO much that it'll probably be mentioned every Advent season!  My sister made it out of thick felt.  Each day has a pocket that I will be stuffing dried fruits/cookies/chocolates into.  This year I hung it along our staircase.  Each time Hazel and I walk along it, I can teach her a little about preparing for Christmas/ Jesus' birth.  This morning we counted the days till Jesus' birthday and Hazel found 3 dried cherries in pocket #1.  She is very impatient for pocket #2!

Today is also a day off for Hazel and I since I called in sick to deal with this cold/sinus infection/migraine.  I am now a card carrying member (not really) of the Neti Pot fan club!  Sweet relief!

This morning, as soon as it was light enough to see out the window, I carried Hazel over to show her "SNOW".  She waved "hello".  Then, about 2 hours later as I was indulging in the time to read my favorite blogs, I glanced over at Hazel ...who was sitting in a pile of coats, boots, hats and gloves.  Subtle.

there's a snow angel if I've ever seen one!
(note:  as soon as we walked out the doors, she threw the gloves on the ground.  Which reminds me, I need to go retrieve them!)

And since no one loves a crying sequence more than my family, here's what happened right after the above photo:
1.  Stumble and catch self with hands
2.  Distract self by exploring the white flakes that are stuck to fingers
3.  Realize that the white stuff is REALLY REALLY COLD
4.  Realize that Mama is taking pictures and laughing and not coming to the rescue!