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This weekend, I put up all our decorations (indoor and outdoors) with the exception of the live tree. Since last year, my Christmas decoration stash significantly expanded when my family shipped out all the decorations I still had at my mother’s house, which amounted to a rather large plastic tub of ornaments and my collection of about a dozen Christmas-themed music boxes. We also bought a silver tinsel tree at the after-holiday sales, because I have always wanted a silver tinsel tree. And since it’s the first question people ask when I tell them we have a silver tinsel tree, no I did not get the lighter spinner to go with it.

Of all my decorations however, there are two there are most precious to me. First is my pair of German Nutcrackers. The soldier I received as a gift as a young ballet-loving girl. I loved it so much that I saved up my money to buy another nutcracker (Herr Drosselmeyer), a year later at a little shop in Eureka, CA we stopped at each year when we visited my great-grandmother for Thanksgiving. It was the biggest purchase I made as a young child and I remember it vividly.

The second, and far more precious, is the needlepoint stocking my grandmother made me.  My grandmother had a tradition of making everyone in the family some kind of needlework stocking. They are detailed and specially chosen and very beautiful. Every spouse and new grandchild or great-grandchild got one – not right away, as they are terrifically labor intensive and finding the right one could take time, but sooner or later, there it was, given with a lot of love and no great fanfare. When my grandmother passed away in 2009, my Aunt took over stocking-making duties for her own grandchildren and in-laws; and while my mother offered to take up the task, I knew I would want to make Little Miss Cleaver’s myself.

So for the past 7 months or so, whenever Miss Cleaver takes an extended nap in my lap, I’ve been plugging away on her stocking. Though I learned how to cross-stitch at a young age, and distinctly remember cross-stitching bookmarks in the pews at church as a young child, I can’t say it’s my favorite craft. For me, it tends to fall somewhere between soothing and the world’s most tedious form of coloring in the lines. But the thought of her hanging it up with anticipation every year makes every stitch and tangled thread worth it.

I’m maybe a third of the way through the pattern at this point, and I certainly know that I won’t be done in time for this year (nor will LMC miss it), it feels good to be working on it at this time of year and knowing that I’m carrying on this tradition.

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There are three moments during my pregnancy that I can pinpoint as being irrationally emotional. (I’d have said four, but this music video still makes me cry every time.)

  1. A PBS promo where a little girl sees her reflection in an astronaut’s helmet;
  2. Seeing a little girl getting really excited over seeing Santa at the Disneyland parade;
  3. Watching the Radio City Rockettes in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

In each of these instances I found myself getting unexpectedly teary (or in the case of #2, full-on crying), so it is perhaps no surprise then, that I have been really really looking forward to sharing the holidays with Little Miss Cleaver this year.

Celebrating our first Thanksgiving was a pure joy. We watched the parade together, shared a lovely meal with Memere and her uncle & aunt, and then LMC took a big nap while the grown-ups watched football.  All in all, I think she did the day pretty darn well. And yes, I got a little teary watching the parade again this year, as it was the realization of a moment I could only dream about a year ago.

Sometimes Mr. Cleaver and I talk about what we want home to be like for LMC and there are a few words that come to mind: safe, warm, loving, and a little bit magical. To me, the holidays are the epitome of all those things and I can’t wait to share even more of them with her.

A little bit of love and magic

First Snow

Looking out at her first snow this morning!

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Happy Halloween!

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It’s no secret that I love Autumn in Maine. Fall has always been my favorite time of year and New England has the best Autumns of them all. And this year I get to share it all with Little Miss Cleaver – which makes it even better.

This year we crammed both of the Cleaver Family fall favorite field trips into one gloriously busy week: the Fair (Cumberland County) and apple picking (Ricker Hill). Miss Cleaver was wide-eyed at all the new things to look at (but not allowed to put in her mouth) and Mr. Cleaver and I loved watching her take it all in. Steinbeck was just happy to be there.

For years now, Mr. Cleaver and I talked about how some day we would take our future children on these annual adventures with us and what a thrill it is to be actually doing it now. We met in the fall and married in the fall (6 years this Sunday!), and the return of the season each year serves as a reminder of how this little family, my greatest joy, made its start. Small wonder that Autumn’s my favorite time of year.

PS: Miss Cleaver just turned 6 months old (how time flies!) and mastered sitting the day we went apple picking.
Pumpkin Photostrip

Or should I say, almost mastered?

PPS: Thanks to those of you who voted for the Pride’s Corner Drive-In. Unfortunately they didn’t win a new projector, but another Maine Drive-In (in Saco) did!

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I don’t often shill for things here, or in my life ever, but long-time readers of this blog know that I am a HUGE fan of the Pride’s Corner Drive In in Westbrook, ME.

My whole life I had always wanted to go to a drive-in movie and imagine my luck when I moved back to Maine and found one 10-minutes down the road!

Unfortunately after this summer, there’s a good chance a lot of this country’s drive-in movie theaters will go dark. Film distributors are largely shying away from 35mm film, which means that most Drive-Ins will need to convert to digital projection to be able to show new films. The cost to convert (about $75,000-$80,000) is a huge hurdle for these small businesses.

We’ve already taken Little Miss Cleaver twice this summer, and I’d love to be able to take her when she can remember the experience!

So my request here is two-fold:

1. If you live in the area – go patronize the drive-in!! This weekend they’re showing a double-feature (it’s always a double feature!) of Monsters University and Despicable Me 2. $15 per Car. Gates Open At 7pm. Show Starts At Dusk. (For more info, visit the Pride’s Corner Facebook Page)

2.  Honda (yes, the car company) is sponsoring a “Save the Drive-In” contest, where the top 5 vote getters will receive a free digital projector. You can vote for Pride’s Corner here: http://projectdrivein.com/#vote_68 or by texting Vote68 to 444999. You can vote once each way per day from now until Sept 9th.

That’s all – this is just a place I love and would hate to see go away!

-Leah

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This Friday I took the day off of work and we took little Miss Cleaver out for her first beach day. We went to my favorite beach, Ocean Park, where I first dipped my toes into the Atlantic nearly 8 years ago to the day. Miss Cleaver found the toe-dipping experience a bit chilly for her tastes.

Being a trio of pale-skinned red-heads we didn’t spend too much time on the beach itself, but all in all it was a perfect day with shaded strolls, ice cream with sprinkles (for me), shuffle-board nap time (for her) and a good time had by all. Just in time too, as my little 5-month-has nearly outgrown that bonnet already!

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