Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 In Review

Can you believe another year has come to an end? Neither can I. For an adult, a year doesn't seem like a very long time and often little changes, but with kids, boy oh boy, does a year make a difference!

From birthday #1 to birthday #2, William grew almost six inches and gained nearly 10 pounds. He is still tall and fairly lean but he is filling out some too. And in the past 12 months he went from saying very few words to saying all of the words all of the time. He is a non-stop talker. He's also running and dancing and climbing everywhere. We figured out that if we read or sang songs during meal time, he ate twice as much food. I guess we'll work on table manners next year!

Chris continues to work for Pulse Entertainment, crossing the Golden Gate bridge for work every day. The projects have been pretty slow at coming, so Chris was able to spend a lot of time working on computer programing for the company; they even gave him a new title of "Web Developer" this year! They had some staff changes recently so he is now the only one in that department making him technically the "Senior Web Developer!" Once the projects start coming, I think he'll need to put his editor hat back on for a while.

Chris also finished his final draft of his novel -- all 146,000 words! We'll let you know when we have a publisher! He also finished creating his first web app--a program that will tell you how much to pay for stock. Check it out: stoxox.com Chris has been so very busy!

I continue to work from home for Jews for Jesus, now just 20 hours a week. I needed to make the change from 24 hours/week when William dropped his afternoon nap at age 22 months. I was so lucky he napped so well for so long! It's still a stretch to get 4 hours in each day, so I hired a sitter for one day a week which allows me face time with my co-workers and a chance to focus a little more. I have been with this organization for five and half years now! How blessed I am to have applied for that 6 week temporary position so long ago!

My photography sessions also doubled this year! I was able to do three newborn sessions and a lot of families. Its exciting, but also pretty time consuming. I typically only shoot on weekends so Chris can be home with William. Check out my website: emilybabiakphotography.zenfolio.com

In July, we flew to Minnesota, making the rounds to see as much family as we could. We finished the week out with a three-day lake cabin vacation with my family -- all 12 of us! Everyone had a great time fishing, canoeing, swimming, biking and playing games. This was probably one of my favorite family vacations so far. Even with the toddlers running around, it was fun and relaxing.

In September, I took a solo trip to Australia. My best friend has lived there for nearly four years and another couple I love dearly moved there around the same time. Between my Jewish-holiday vacation days, Chris's work being a bit flexible and William not yet 2 (and could fly for free), it seemed like the perfect time to go. And I had a lot of birthday/Christmas money saved up to pay for most of it! (Thanks everyone!) Chris and William spent the week in Texas with his family and I explored Melbourne, Ocean Grove, a bit of the Southern Coast and Sydney. It was really a once-in-a-lifetime trip!

It's no secret that we've been looking for a larger apartment for a while now. Actively looking for nearly a year. Our 600 sq ft. space still works for the most part, but we get quite tired of the street noise (any guesses as to how many fire trucks drove by during nap time on Christmas Day? There were six...blaring their sirens for our entire block and then some). I have such a hard time facing the fact that our rent would have to double to add another bedroom . . . and triple if we add a yard or laundry and parking. And the kitchen might be smaller and there might not even be a bathtub (when you have kids, that kind of matters right?) Anyway, it is taking a long time to find something that works for us.

We had a lot of family visit us this year. Which was awesome! Even my dad made it out here for the second time in five years! Thanks Dad! In March we had my brother, Chris's mom and sister out for William's dedication. Chris's brother, sister-in-law and nephew all made it out here in August too which was so fun. I am so thankful William had some cousin time! Chris's parents made it out here several times this year and Shannon just came out again for Thanksgiving too.

We've had a lot of fun watching William grow and change this year. I can't wait to see just how much he changes in 2016! (We have hopes of potty training and introducing a big-boy bed. Tips anyone?) I love how much we got to see our families this year and pray we can make trips out to see everyone next year. We have much to be grateful for and we try to thank to the Lord often -- for our marriage, our health, our home, family, friends, jobs and our community.

Wishing you a bright and wonderful New Year! Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!


We tucked our little boy in bed after attending our Christmas Eve service. Then with much excitement I uncovered our pile of packages that have arrived over the last few weeks and stacked them carefully under our tree. William did find packages peaking from behind the baby gate, but listened well when I told him "We open those on Christmas day, don't touch, please." I think with his growing experience in gift opening, tomorrow should be fun!

Yesterday I drove into work, noticing the lack of traffic and seeing a few people with suitcases making their way toward the BART station. I could feel their anticipation, knowing the joy that comes deep within when you are going "home." It brought me back to the feeling of taking your last final in college, running to the car and heading home for break. I still experienced that yesterday, even though I wasn't the one traveling. Or getting a long break from work. The anticipation of the holiday still runs deep.


Isn't that what Advent, the season leading up to Christmas, is really all about? The anticipation of the coming King!? The whole universe was and is waiting in anticipation for the King to come and restore all things to the proper state. We are all longing to go to our real and everlasting home. And then he did come. But not as anyone had expected. No, he made his way to earth not with pomp and circumstance or greatness, but as a newborn baby, born to a young, virgin mother in an animal shed.


And we still live with this anticipation because he has promised to come again. This time, not has an innocent baby, seen by a few shepherds; but with greatness and glory and all will see him.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 reads:
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.               
I hope that this season brings a sense of anticipation to your souls, too. And that you pause and ask what you are really anticipating. Is it the Messiah? Or something else?


From our hearts and home to yours, over thousands of miles, we want to wish you a very Merry Christmas! Christ the Savior is born!

Christmas Eve in the City

Today was an eventful day as Chris, William and I met up with friends at Union Square to take in all things Christmas. The tree, the gingerbread tree, the puppies and kittens in the Macy's window, dinner out and ending with our candlelight service at church.  William did so great with it all (with the help of my superman husband).






It was really a great day. One I hope becomes tradition.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Christmas at Home

This is the first year since we've moved into San Francisco that we'll be staying here for Christmas. We are a little sad that we won't be with either of our families, but also a little excited to experience the holiday with just the three of us. Also, our city has some really amazing things to see at Christmas time which we've never really taken the time to see! (I'm hoping to make time for that this year.)

But for now, let me show you our home decor . . .

First, the tree. We haven't had a tree for the past two Christmas's because 1) we weren't going to be here for at least a week 2) we didn't really have space and 3) William was a baby and then a walking baby and, well safety. But this year, he was ready. And I was so excited. And I love it:


The nativity scene doesn't really change much from year to year, except maybe where I put it. I didn't hide it from William this year. I am risking my ceramic pieces in the name of experience. So far, William has been very gentle and has learned words like "shepherd," "angel," and "wise man." I love that he knows which one is dada and mama. I love that he plays with them. (I'll say that until they break, but like I said, it's about experience.)


Lastly, our stockings. I finally finished William's stocking this year. And we hung them up in a new place, our entry hallway. I love them up there -- it never worked with just two!


I have some garland in a few other places with candles. There is a wreath on the door. But these are my highlights for this year.

Oh, and this:
This is William's first ever take-home craft from a play group (I joined MOPS last month, more to say about that later). When I picked him up, he was so excited to show me and when we got home, he was thrilled to put it on the tree all by himself. ("By self" is a new and often used phrase now.)

 And here's one for Chris:


And for me:

May your home feel bright and merry this Christmas season! If not, come see us!

Stocking #3: Complete

Two years ago, I started sewing William's stocking. Well, I mean I had cut out all of the fabric and had it ready to sew. . . but there it sat, unfinished until this past October. After his birthday party, I sat down and sewed it all together and hung it on the wall . . . just waiting for December to come.


 I wanted William's stocking to match ours, but not be identical. I was also keenly aware at how time consuming our design had been. So, I made a few adjustments using scraps I had left over from my tree skirt.


The strips are a bit wider and the cuff fabric less busy. Otherwise, it's pretty similar. I was so thrilled to finally be done with it and love how it looks in our hallway with the others. Now I just need to hunt down a "W" ornament to match!


Happy 3rd Christmas William!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Was Thanksgiving really last month?

Wow, am I behind. Thanksgiving was a week ago and November is no longer with us. Let me back up even farther to the weekend prior to Thanksgiving and share about back-to-back visitors:

Chris's parents made a brief weekend stop in SF on their way to Hawaii, alas, we could not join them this time. William and I had both been getting over colds so we took it easy and only went out a few times.

On Saturday morning we went for a hike on Mount Davidson. Not sure it really requires a "Mount" being within city limits, but that is what it's called. It was a brisk day but with the sun peaking through the trees and the dew still on the ground it made for a very pretty sight. At the top is a giant white cross, which William named "The Tower." We've been here for five years and this was Chris's first time to see it (and only my second). We do need to get out more.




That afternoon was spent at the park while I got dinner ready and then the evening wrapped up with games.

Sunday began with church and might have had another run to the park before saying farewell to our guests. It was such a quick visit, but I was so thankful to see them as we won't be seeing them for Christmas this year.

The following week, Chris's sister, Shannon stayed with us. We love having her here with us. She was such a good sport to sleep on the floor each night next to us as we all shared the living room. Someday we'll have space for visitors again (I hope).

Even though she was on break from teaching, she had plenty of school work to keep her busy as she's now in a master's program. She spent several afternoons working along side Chris reading and writing papers.

We did make it to the Botanical Gardens together, which was really fun, although cold. I don't think I've been this cold in SF in at least two years. William loved the leaves and the pond with ducks.

video




She babysat for us one night so we could see the last of the Hunger Games movies. She also helped keep William occupied so I could work a little easier. Shannon has the ability to make anything exciting to this little guy. His imaginative play really took off while she was here. Several of their games became every day occurrences once she left.

On Thanksgiving day, I baked bread in the morning and then after William woke up from his nap we headed over to our friend Kate's house for dinner with her family and a few (7 other) friends. The kids played well enough at the beginning but William couldn't comprehend why mom had to sit down at the table for longer than 5 minutes to eat. The meal was served in courses, which was really fun and fancy, but my little two year old man didn't get it. We even gave him an intermission and took him to the park for 30 minutes. We ended up leaving shortly after the main course to make it home for bed time.


We have much to be thankful for, this mama-friend and her daughter have meant so much to us this year and we were so happy to spend the afternoon with them. For our families and church community, for our jobs (and their paychecks), and our vehicles (when they aren't stolen).

It was a lovely week with Shannon and we were sad to see her go. William was doubly sad in the morning and he woke up to find she had already left on the airplane. (He did enjoy talking about the airplane though).

And now we are in December . . . the month of advent, festivities, too many sweets and a lot of excuses to get together with friends. A wonderful way to finish the year.