Not Your Perfect Christmas Mom

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I love Christmas. The lights. The music. The times when people take an extra moment to smile or hold a door for you. Putting up the tree and turning on the twinkling house lights after a long day at work. I love it all. And when you have a child who stares at lights and decorations with pure wonder, it’s hard not to get even more swept up in the magic. I feel like I am getting another shot at my childhood as Rylan begins to grasp each holiday with more excitement and curiosity.

Yes, the holidays are also stressful. There is never enough time to accomplish all the things that the crafty Pinterest moms seem to finish. Do not even get me started on Martha Stewart Magazine’s holiday issue. The day I buy twine and create my own Christmas tags from fresh cinnamon sticks is the day you can…well…that will simply never happen. Even more, finding the perfect gift has always been a source of anxiety each year. I obsess over getting it right for each person on my list.

But not this year.

There will be no “12 days of Christmas cookies” from a gourmet food magazine baking in our oven. I will not simmer homemade hot apple cider and as of Dec. 15, not a single Christmas movie has been watched. Rylan, age 16 months, may or may not make it to Santa’s lap this year. In the past few weeks I’ve barely clung to a gym schedule and it isn’t looking any better this week as we juggle late-afternoon meetings, early-morning daycare conferences and outings with friends who we do not see much of anymore. I went from a strict cleanse to York Peppermint Patties and Malbec. A dear friend is bringing a present for me to use in a girls-night-out gift exchange because she knew I’d never make it to the store. Speaking of stores, if a gift wasn’t on Amazon Prime or found during my two hours of shopping two weekends ago, it won’t be under the tree. Rylan made no holiday crafts for his grandparents nor did I get to that personalized 2015 Shutterfly family calendar I swore we’d give as gifts this year.

We simply do not have the time or energy to let the holidays turn into a holi-daze. I refuse to “give in” to the pressure of creating the perfect Hallmark-worthy holiday. Lord knows as parents we are under enough pressure every single day of the year.

Instead, I am determined to start conversations about the many things we’re so lucky to have this season. Health being number one. If I could ask Santa for a healthy family and child every year I would do so without hesitation. Love being just as important as health, or some may argue even more so. I love my family and friends fiercely and this year has shown me first-hand that love isn’t a given. It must be nurtured and worked on every day.

It feels extremely liberating to admit a bit of failure, by Good Housekeeping standards, at the holidays. Will you join me?

Gift Giving Debate

The kid in me still gets giddy when presents under the Christmas tree have my name on them. But as I’ve gotten older there are so many practical items and projects that seem like a better investment than gifts like clothes, purses and shoes. This mainly applies to Mike and me, especially as homeowners just one year in.

To exchange or not to exchange this year, that is the question we are debating. We will get each other Christmas ornaments (a tradition started last year) but as much as I have my eye on a few frivolous items, I’m leaning toward saving money for our basement makeover. I cross my fingers and toes in hopes it will be done by the middle of next year. On our list? Recessed lighting, paint and drywall repairs, filing cabinet for office setup and media shelving/bookcases. In general, a head-to-toe facelift that lightens up the TV basement room by 150%.

My latest inspiration…

What about you? Do you exchange no matter what or opt to work on house projects, book a trip, etc.?

Autumn Mantel Inspiration

Have I mentioned how much I love the holidays? Pretty sure I have, but throwing it out there again in case you haven’t heard yet. Part of what made me fall in love with our house is the original, built-in mantel and cabinet upstairs. The wood is dark, rich and ready for decorating.

You can see a few shots of the room here.

Christmas is a given but I am also tempted to spruce it up a bit for fall too. Rather than spend money on Halloween decorations that will have to come up and down, I think an autumn mantel with a Thanksgiving nod is the way to go. Cue Pinterest for inspiration.

 

This lovely pin led me to a fantastic “year of mantels” blog post by A Diamond in the Stuff. That is for another day though. Back to autumn. I think I can do this.

Working with what we already have, a few white pumpkins, stencils and perhaps another touch or two and I think this will work. If I give it a try I may go for an orange-tinted paint since our living room already has so much brown. Or perhaps a touch of gold as inspired by another pin I am loving below?

Source: lhj.com via Alexis on Pinterest

 

Or do I go completely out of my comfort zone and go bright? I’d definitely need H.E.L.P. from someone crafty to DIY an ombre pumpkin myself.

 

Help me decide people!

July 4th Reflections

                                                     Source: pearlssentimentaljourney.blogspot.com via Gladys on Pinterest

 

Blame it on the holiday falling on a Wednesday if you will, but times are a changing. July 4th used to be my second favorite holiday after Christmas. Living in San Diego for 4+ years, it might as well have been Christmas Day to thousands of 20-somethings.

Before drinking on San Diego beaches was banned, a group of guys would claim our spot on the beach or bay as early as 5:30am. Then by 9am July 4th party-goers poured onto the sand with kegs, 30 packs, pre-mixed cocktails and ice luges in hand. A disaster in the making, and a very solid reason for San Diego finally passing the drinking ban a few years ago. Purchasing a new bathing suit every year was a must and I cringe at a few of those “outfit” choices.

Those July 4th celebrations however, will always stay with me as the symbol of that time in our lives. We were fresh out of college and working hard to build our careers. Some of us were already dating our now husbands/wives but many were single–all of us had barely a care in the world. I’m glad I am not the almost-30-year-old trying to keep those antics going, but I still miss the carefree nature of the day all the same.

Today will be relaxing, my new favorite way to spend most any day outside the office. There is cleaning to do early, followed by a few hours of reading and chatting by a pool with my best friend, potentially followed by a BBQ–though, in between I need to take care of Kona and tend to a few more to-do’s for the house and work.

Life is changing, and I am 100% comfortable with that notion. But on certain days – like July 4th when I can literally picture, hour by hour, what I was doing just a few years ago – I can’t help but reflect on how far we’ve come.

I hope you have an amazing day with friends and family. God bless the U.S.A., most especially our troops and firefighters (here in Colorado, they are true heroes right now).

Happy Birthday America!

Happy New Years!

Wishing you and yours, a healthy and magical 2012!

Resurfacing

I haven’t blogged in a week and to be honest, I haven’t had a second to miss it until today. Unpacking our new home has been overwhelming and just when I started to see the light at the end of the boxes, Christmas happened. We enjoyed two wonderful days just up the road in Niwot with Mike’s family. Our holiday was filled with tons of food, laughs and love.

Yesterday (the day after Christmas) we came to Breckenridge with friends visiting from San Diego. I fought off an impending cold by skiing all day yesterday, but finally lost the battle today and am catching up on blogs from the warmth of our condo to avoid being sick for my entire vacation. Have I mentioned that my office is closed until Jan. 3? Amazing!

We have been really bad about taking pictures since the move so definitely look at Mike’s sister’s blog, Block Party, to check out the cuties who made our Christmas day unforgettable. Hopefully Kelly will also post better pictures of the delicious breakfast she and I prepared below — Overnight Blueberry French Toast. This picture is just from my “dying” 3G iPhone.

The prep on Christmas Eve was so simple and the result was well worth the calories. I think any breakfast item that can be prepped for a large group the night before is genius. It keeps the hosts hosting rather than cooking all morning.

I am eager to get back to blogging (our Internet at the new house is finally working) and start documenting “before” and “after” photos of our progress.

Wishing you all a belated Merry Christmas!

Pinning for Christmas

As I’ve mentioned, we’re not decorating for Christmas this year in anticipation of needing to put everything into boxes starting next week. I believe Mike is secretly thrilled as he is not much of a Christmas decorating enthusiast. My hunch is that because his mom owned a Christmas store and has hundreds of decorations, he got his fill growing up.

Too bad. He married a Christmas freak and I’ll be back in full force next year. Actually, come to think of it, he hasn’t even witnessed my holiday obsession because we’ve never lived anywhere large enough to go wild with North Pole-inspired goodies.

To quiet my decorating desires this year I’ve turned to Pinterest to create a Holiday Inspirations board full of gorgeous pictures of holiday decor…

Credits from top left: Holiday Countdown Sign; Christmas Kleenex Boxes; Colorful Snowflake Cookies; and a Chic Charlie Brown Tree

One of my favorite parts about holiday pinning on Pinterest is that my red and green decorating mind is exposed to all of the others colors and themes that can make for a beautiful holiday display. Natural woods, summer yellows, black chalkboards…your holiday home doesn’t need to resemble your grandmother’s anymore!

Where do you turn for holiday inspiration? Do you stick to red and green themes or do you experiment with bright and unexpected colors?

Christmas Movie Traditions

its a wonderful lifeChristmas songs are playing in every store and holiday decorations are out (at other people’s houses). We are not decorating this year because we’ll likely spend Dec. 23 and Dec. 24 moving into our new house! I see no reason to empty boxes when I should spend every night filling them up instead.

Therefore, my obsession with Christmas movies will have to quell my desire for a tree and other merry decor. Elf and Love Actually are two of my favorites this time of year, but when it comes to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I have a very particular order in which I like to watch a few classics.

Christmas Eve is the night for It’s A Wonderful Life followed by How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the original cartoon version). I like to watch both of these late in the evening, after church and dinner. The experience is enhanced with spiked egg nog. My grandmother was the one who introduced me to “adult” egg nog once I was old enjoy to partake in her favorite tradition of Christmas Eve. Rum, brandy, kaluha…it didn’t really matter. Any “spiking” would do as it kept her warm, cozy and happy as we relaxed from the evening’s feasting festivities. She also ate fruit cake while enjoying her egg nog but I’ll skip that tradition. I can’t stand that stuff!

On Christmas morning I like to watch Miracle on 34th Street (original, black and white version) after the gifts have been opened but before we take showers to go anywhere. Typically this is the second time I have watched the movie during the holiday season. We usually watch it earlier in December while decorating the tree.

It may seem silly to have such rigid holiday movie routine and I am of course open to switching things up this year, as it will be my very first Christmas not with my parents. Yep. It’s time to switch off and enjoy the festivities with Mike’s family. I am really looking forward to establishing some new traditions and cannot wait to watch our nieces open presents this year. They even seem to be grasping the Santa concept! I will miss my family immensely but know that it is going to be a very special holiday.

What holiday traditions do you look forward to most?

How do you cope with changes to your long-standing traditions?

Holiday Cards

Do you send holiday cards? I like to send them in theory, but then when I have to sit and write them out I huff and puff and complain that my handwriting is terrible and my hand is cramped. That said, I get caught up in the holiday spirit just like everyone else and am currently on the hunt for cards to send our to families.

I love cards that are not super traditional and stores like Paper Source and Papyrus have really fun selections. Who knows…maybe one of the designs below will end up in your mailbox this year!

1.) Paper Source 2.) Papyrus 3.) Papyrus 4.) Paper Source

The “Seasons Tweeting” set really caught my eye because everyone makes fun of my social media addiction. That is the front runner (for now) because of the irony of the design/theme.

What kind of holiday cards will you send this year?

Be Grateful

Be Grateful.Tonight (Monday) I stepped outside of my comfort zone and took a yoga class from a teacher that is respected by the entire Colorado yoga community, and most likely well beyond that. Dawnelle Arthur is loved by everyone you meet at Qi. I am still a yoga novice and I worried that her class would be too intense–that everyone around me would be these insanely flexible yogis and I would be the weirdo in the back just trying to keep up.

How wrong I was. Yes, her class was extremely intense for 75 full minutes. I fell out of some poses and cursed how long we had to hold others. My muscles shook and the “I can’t” voice crept into my head more than once.

But at the beginning of class she asked us to summon what we’re grateful for most in life. She asked us to think of one person who has had a profound impact on our life, positive or negative. Dawnelle challenged us to invite in everything that we were feeling – light or dark – and use that in our practice.

I chose to invite in feelings that I have been ignoring since Starbucks brought back the holiday cups and we put an offer on a house.

The feeling of, “I can’t believe we are about to go through another holiday season without my grandma.”

Throughout those 75 minutes I felt gratitude for her life and the lessons she left behind while powering through the most difficult of poses. Her smile and pride in everything I did was nearly palpable to me in the full expression of tree pose. Tears quietly streamed down my face and wet my yoga mat in the final Savasana because Amazing Grace was playing and I literally felt so much gratitude for having her love me so much.

This holiday season I am grateful for many, many things. My amazing husband, our families, the joy Kona brings us, the ability to stretch to buy our first home together, our health, and our hopes for our future. We are so blessed.

But today in that quiet escape of Savasana, I was immensely thankful that for a moment, just a split second, I had my grandma by my side and her love for me overflowing in my heart.

What, or who, are you grateful for today?

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