Christmas Traditions: Part II

Happy Wednesday!

The rain is coming down swiftly outside, and I’m inside with my heater going.

Is it just me or is this week going unbearably slow? I think I say this every week, but this one in particular is like molassess. I feel like a child again, I just can’t wait until it’s finally Christmas.

Now that it’s only a short FOUR days away (FOUR! Yay!), I figured I’d finish off the rest of our Christmas Traditions list.

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Christmas Eve- Growing up, my father’s family always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve. Starting with his own parents, who often worked late into the Christmas Eve night, the family would wait until my grandparents came home and unwrap their presents before going to bed. Years later and many states away, my father would bring my sister and me to celebrate Christmas Eve with my uncle and his family. My Mexican aunt would make the most amazing chicken tacos for dinner, my uncle the most amazing chocolate fudge, and everyone would open at least one present.

We still get together every Christmas Eve, though times they are a changing. I’m not sure what the future of Christmas Eve will look like in terms of company, but I am quite sure that we will always celebrate it with Opa. Now that Jackson is here, we will also be giving him a present (or two) to unwrap before going to bed. This will most likely be his pajamas for the following Christmas morning (more on that later), but may also include a little toy that he can play with (because, let’s be honest, what kid gets excited about clothes?)

Breakfast Cinnamon Rolls- Every Christmas morning, without fail, my father would get up from bed and immediately start a pot of coffee and put together a coffee cake for breakfast. My sister and I would always spend this time staring at our stockings, like racers on the start line, waiting until the moment he was finished so we could begin The Unwrapping. The coffee cake was always done about halfway through opening presents, and everyone would get a piece to nibble on while we spent the morning together.

I loved always knowing that we’d have something warm and sweet on Christmas morning, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the cake. After we got married and had Christmas morning to ourselves in our new house, Glenn and I agreed that cinnamon rolls were vastly superior. While I’ve debated doing a semi healthier approach (like waffles with strawberries), cinnamon rolls require much less effort- which can, in turn, be used for opening presents.

Stockings- A few years back I actually debated nixing stockings completely, as it was just Glenn and I and it seemed a bit too much on top of our presents to one another. However, we’ve slowly come to using the stockings as our gifts for one another. And of course, the introduction of kids means that the tradition is going to stay. This year, I am only including a side toy I picked up for Jackson in his stocking, but as the years go on I will have to put more effort in. However, Glenn and I have really come into our own on the stocking front, and our current roommate (my cousin) will also be benefiting this year. Among the various items you’ll find on any stocking-stuffer list, my favorites for adults always include a chocolate orange, liquor, and some lottery tickets. You know, all the vices.

Matching Pajamas- I mentioned Christmas Eve pajamas earlier, but this really translates to my love of the babies wearing matching pjs for Christmas morning. My sister in law, bless her amazing self, has gotten on the matching pj train with me. Last years it was candy cane onsies, which melted my heart into a puddle. This years are slightly different, sets instead of onsies, but are still ridiculously adorable. I look forward to doing this to the little ones until they are old enough to realize they can refuse.

This, of course, leads to the final tradition-

The Babies Opening Gifts Together On Christmas Morning- I hadn’t realized how important this would be for me until last Christmas, when Jackson and his cousin B were still infants. Perhaps it’s because I grew up opening Christmas presents with my own cousins every year on Christmas Eve, or perhaps it’s because neither has any siblings right now (it’s definitely because we are all very close), but I can’t imagine a Christmas morning that doesn’t have these two together. This is also the time that Jack’s aunt visits from Seattle, so it’s extra special to get that time with the two of them together. Of course, I imagine this may change as the families grow and get older, but nothing can beat watching my favorite two kids together on Christmas morning. I can’t wait to see how much they love it this year, since they are in their prime unwrapping phase and old enough to enjoy all the Christmas goodies. I, myself, will be enjoying extra squishes and kisses that I can steal from them.

And that’s that. There are more, smaller, traditions that I’m sure I’m overlooking, but these are the big ones that I hope Jackson remembers as he grows up. Traditions have always made the holiday seasons that much more special in my mind, as I’m sure it does to everyone to some degree. It’s something you know you can rely on, an act that provides a sense of continuity and comfort over the years. Some may fade with time, but the precious few we hold on to can transport us back in an instant.

As A Mom- Singing

At least once a day, I’ll note how I’ve changed since becoming a mother. It could be anything as simple as letting a friend know that any night out must begin before 7pm, regardless of the activity. Or it can be as big as watching my son and husband roughhouse and feeling more love than I ever knew. Some are big, most are small. But I have found that one interesting result of having Jackson is how I sing.

I’ve never been much of a singer. I grew up surrounded by people with beautiful voices- a cousin who practiced opera, my first boyfriend who was in choir his entire life (to this day), many, many friends, and so forth. And I tried, on several occasions, to follow in these footsteps.

Let me get to the point and say that it never turned out well. I will never forget the look on my sweet first boyfriend’s face as he tried to think of a kind way to tell me the bad news.

So I resigned to singing alone in my car with the windows up and the radio blaring. When I pulled up to a stop light, I would stop so none of the other passengers would be able to see (or worse, hear) me.

As my husband, Glenn has absolutely heard me sing the most- but I have to admit I still feel a ping of embarrassment when I try to hit a note that I have no business trying to hit. He’s a sweetheart though and never mentions it.

But something changed when I became pregnant. All of a sudden, it became absolutely imperative that I find a song for my baby that they would have for the rest of their lives. More than a lullaby, I wanted something that could randomly show up and remind them just how much I love them and how much they mean to their father and I.

We didn’t know at the time whether Jackson would be a boy or a girl, but I knew it was especially important to find the right song for a son. It seems that nowadays, songs about men are generally quite demeaning- either emphasizing the guy being an idiot, or expressing how horrible he is to women. That wouldn’t do for my sweet baby, if he were a boy I wanted him to know just how loved and special he was.

I decided on the Carpenters, “Close to you.”

An odd choice, I imagine, for anyone that didn’t grow up with my mom. But it echoed the sentiment I wanted my son to feel.

Why do birds suddenly appear
Every time you are near?
Just like me, they long to be
Close to you

Why do stars fall down from the sky
Every time you walk by?
Just like me, they long to be
Close to you

On the day that you were born the angels got together
And decided to create a dream come true
So they sprinkled moon dust in your hair
Of golden starlight in your eyes of blue

Over my pregnancy, I would practice this song over and over and over. Not only did I hope my little one would hear it and remember it once he was born, but I honestly also hoped to get better at singing it.

I don’t remember the first time I sang it to him after he was born. It seems odd that I don’t, since it had become so important in my mind. It was likely once we got home, though it’s possible I had sung it to him once we got out of the more intensive sections of NICU, where there was a little more privacy. Nevertheless, it’s the song that I still sing almost nightly.

In the year and a half that I’ve been singing to Jack, I can honestly say several things. One, I’ve gotten significantly better at singing it (though I’m no Karen, let me tell you). Two, while babies love listening to you sing in their first year of life, later on it means they’re going to bed and they are no longer as happy to hear it. And third, I know without a doubt that someday he will love hearing it again.

When I reflect back now, I remember how much I would love hearing my mom sing when we were younger. I always thought she sounded beautiful and always wanted to hear her sing more. Never once did I judge her voice, it made me feel safe and loved. And I hope that’s what Jackson feels when he hears me singing.

I will never join a choir, I will never sing loudly in a room full of people (I’m not sure when this would ever happen, but I wouldn’t do it nonetheless), and I still sing in my car with the windows up and the radio blasting.

But I do feel much more comfortable with my voice. It’s not perfect, but it brings my baby comfort (when he’s not screaming that he doesn’t want to go to bed), and that’s more than enough for me.

I’ve already decided what the next baby’s song will be. A little preemptive, but once you know, you know.

Wise men say only fools rush in
But I can’t help falling in love with you
Shall I stay
Would it be a sin
If I can’t help falling in love with you

Like a river flows so surely to the sea
Oh my darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be
So take my hand, and take my whole life too
‘Cause I can’t help falling in love with you

Like a river flows so surely to the sea
Oh my darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be
So won’t you please just take my hand, and take my whole life too
‘Cause I can’t help falling in love, in love with you
‘Cause I can’t help falling in love, falling in love,
I keep falling in love with you

Ingrid Michaelson, “Can’t Help Falling In Love”

All the Lovely Things: Rainy Friday

It’s finally Friday, hallelujah! Not sure about the rest of you, but this week DRAGGED on for me.

This weekend should be full of fun things in preparation for Christmas, lots of wrapping presents and baking cookies. Glenn also went above and beyond in planning our Friday night date, and got tickets to our first hockey game! I’m so excited to finally experience one, we’ve been meaning to go for years now.

There is still a whole day before we reach Friday afternoon, however, so here are some things that I’ll be focusing on to pass the time.

San Diego is experiencing one of the three rainstorms we get a year. While temperatures are remaining in the 60’s (sorry rest of the US, with your snow storms), we are still wimps and want to stay locked in our warm, cozy houses while the fireplace roars. We don’t have a fireplace, but still feel super cozy once we play this video on our tv and crank up the Christmas music. T-8 days people!

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Burning Fireplace

I just found out that Flowerbomb came out with a limited-edition holiday packaging, just mere days before Christmas and well after I gave everyone my wish lists. Ugh, so sad. Look at gorgeously sparkly it is.

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Victor and Rolf- Flowerbomb 

Found this recipe for White House Eggnog through an article from one of my favorite bloggers. I’m not usually a huge fan of eggnog, but there’s something about this recipe that just calls to me (might have something to do with the 24 ounces of liquor in it though).

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White House Eggnog 

I have never seen a more accurate shirt. There will be a lot of sustaining tonight.

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Motherhood Shirt 

Christmas Traditions: Part I

I love this time of year. More than presents and cold weather (although hell yes), I love the emphasis on traditions and family. Since I got married, and much more since Jack was born, I’ve been thinking of what traditions I want to continue as our family moves forward.

There are, of course, the traditions you do on Christmas day and the ones that you do prior in anticipation of the holiday. The former is too far ahead for me to be thinking of at the moment, but the latter is perfect for the weeks leading up to the big day.

Lifetime movies– This is something I do with my mom and sister (the husband isn’t as keen on this genre, surprisingly). What better way to get in the mood for Christmas than cheesy festive movies that always end happily? Add in some seasonal food and a roaring fire, and you’ve got yourself an instant Christmas season.

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Dancing to Christmas music– Be still my heart. My little boy has developed a strong love for swaying to Christmas ballads in his mama’s arms. Only better is when he tries to hold my hand while doing so.

Picking out a tree– When I was younger my father refused to get a real Christmas tree, arguing that my asthma would be terrible with the tree inside the house. Whether it was actually because of that or whether he just didn’t want to dole out money every year is still something I need to discuss with my therapist, but thankfully my asthma has gotten better and Glenn also enjoys the fresh smell of pine in our home. Going out to pick out our tree as a family has definitely become an integral part of preparing for the season.

Traumatizing my child– We’ve added visiting Santa to the lineup since Jackson’s arrival in 2015. He wasn’t too thrilled to meet the big man this year, but it made for a hilarious timeless photo.

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Yearly Christmas ornaments: Growing up, we always got an ornament that depicted something special that happened to us throughout the year. While I love them, I much prefer the metal ornaments with pictures for Jackson. So far I have one of his newborn picture and the two subsequent fall photos we’ve taken at 4 months and 1 year. This way I’ll have a visual representation of him throughout the years.

Christmas cards: Ever the mail junkie, I am mentally compelled to send these pretty pieces of Christmas joy. It’s fantastic enough getting regular letters, Christmas cards are 100x better.

 

I’m still thinking of other ways to incorporate the season into daily life during this month. It’s especially hard with work, but it’s such a fantastic time of year that I can’t possibly think of letting it pass so quickly.

Finding Time

Before I had kids, I thought I was busy. I know that sounds pompous and haughty, but it’s not meant to be. I feel like every stage in life gets more adultier. More boring yet necessary stuff requires your time and thought, and you get to do less fun stuff. When I got married, I noticed a direct upswing in the amount of work I had to do every night, and when I had Jackson, it tripled.

Every day for over a year, I would get up at 5 am, get myself and Jack ready, drive an hour and a half to drop him off and make it to work, work for 8 hours, pick him up, hit about an hour and a half to two hours of traffic, cook, and do some variation of dishes, bath time, bed time, and prepping for the next day. This is if I didn’t have any errands to run during the day and doesn’t count the often extra little chores like sweeping/mopping, tidying, etc. that are required throughout the week (my son is a modern day Taz and my home is always one step away from an utter wreck.) Luckily my husband and I have established a good tag team effort, and as of a few months ago, my father has started coming to our home to babysit, thus taking out anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half of commute time a day. Hallelujah.

That being said, there’s really not a lot of free time in my day. There is always after Jack goes to bed, but this time is pretty limited since I should prioritize my sleep as I wake up early. To be completely truthful, this is usually the first thing to go so I can fit more in my day, but I’ve been attempting to be better at it lately.

A few months ago, around the time I began this blog, I realized how much I missed doing things that were “me”. I have since made it a point to try and find ways to carve out time within my day that I can use for things that are important to my wellbeing. One of my work friends wakes up at 4am to complete a workout before her day. She’s crazy impressive. I am not like this. Instead, my moments are sporadic, here and there throughout the day. I’ve noticed that as long as I realize that these things don’t have to be more than short bursts, I’m more willing to put the effort into doing them. And while they do require that effort, they have proven to be so much more beneficial than staring blankly at Facebook for 20 minutes (which I also do daily, no judgement).

Listen to podcasts

As stated earlier, I spend a lot of time commuting. A LOT. And I hate driving. So much. It’s ridiculously boring and if I could, I would definitely buy one of those cars that would drive me everywhere without me having to pay attention. Or I would get a chauffeur.

Not being made of money, I was lucky enough to stumble on the podcasts app on my phone. I know, everyone knows about this- it’s not new. I’m technology inept, so trust me- this was a HUGE deal. Since discovering the wide world of podcasts, my commute to work and back every day has expanded to a time that I really enjoy. I listen to my weird and quirky side with science fiction podcasts, like Lore, Limetown, and The Bright Sessions. I learn things I’d never even think to ask with podcasts like Stuff You Missed in History Class, TED Radio Hour, and This American Life. Hell, I even listen to a podcast specifically made for Gilmore Girls fans (yes, this is a thing. Gilmore Guys. You’re welcome).

There are so many wonderful shows that I can tap into whenever I want. And while not the same quality as a Pulitzer Prize winning novel or some book on ancient Athens currency, it’s sometimes semi educational and almost always interesting in a way that the Kardashians will never be.

Walking/Stairs on Break

This one was definitely not my original idea. You know the friend that wakes up at 4am to work out? Yea, it was hers. She’s been doing it for a long while, and one day as I sat all fat and lazy I asked if I could join her. Thankfully, she said yes and this has absolutely been one of the steps that led me to finally losing baby weight and getting back to a healthy lifestyle. It wasn’t a full workout, just a mere 15 minutes. I figured I can do anything for 15 minutes. I can especially do anything that doesn’t require a change of clothes or driving somewhere.

This mindset has since extended into my night when I started to work on my core strength by slowly working up the time I could plank. When I began, I literally dedicated less than a minute to it. Now it’s up to two and a half minutes, but dude- it’s two and a half freaking minutes. And I don’t even do it every night. For something that takes so little time though, it has had a surprising affect. I feel stronger and my arms have toned a bit, to the point where a friend even noticed after not seeing me for a few weeks. Can’t get better than that.

Dancing in the Living Room

Glenn actually started this one. Sorry, this isn’t a “How I fixed my life in 10 steps” but more like, “How I stumbled upon doing these things and oh, that’s cool- I’ll keep doing it.” So dancing. You know what’s better than dancing alone like a fool to loud, heart pumping music? Doing it with a super handsome guy and an adorable toddler who laughs and interpretive dances with you.

Ditching My Husband with the Toddler to Take a Long Shower

Poor Glenn knows this well. When I feel like I need some alone time, he’s kind enough to distract the little dude long enough for me to bolt to our bathroom, shut the door, and ignore the screams of my darling son calling for me on the other side. Pretty smelling scrubs and lotions help the sound barrier. Joking aside, bless this man because I know I take extra-long showers when it’s been one of those days.

Once upon a time, when Jackson was still a glimmer in our eyes and I had my spa style bathtub, I would spend an hour or two lounging in the hot water, candles and all. With an upgrade in children, an upgrade in home, and no more tub- this looks a bit different. But I’m the indulgent type, and while the candles and reading while submerged are no more, I certainly turn up the music and use all the smell goods I can get my hands on.

Writing Here

Since starting this space to just write and have a place solely reserved for the little things that make me happy, I really feel like I’ve been rediscovering (and just discovering) what interests me. Not all of it is important, most of it is just fleeting moments, but it gives me a space to just be. Like the zen you find at the top of a mountain while watching the sun set, just a hell of a lot more superficial. That’s cool though, I already have a lot of incredibly deep and intense other aspects of my life. Like podcasts and body scrub, my quiet time typing and looking at pretty things can just be what it is. And if, along the way, I find a little peace in my day, then I’ve accomplished my goal.

I’m still a far cry away from having the typical set of hobbies that I once used to encompass, but I’m getting there.

PS: In the time it took me to type this up, I helped Glenn fold a load of laundry and put Jackson back to bed after he woke up. Even my breaks require breaks.

PSS: Now it’s 11:30. Maybe I’ll sleep more tomorrow night.

All The Lovely Things: Forget Monday- Jazz Clubs, Wine, and Chocolate

Another weekend come and gone, and we’re staring ahead at another week. Fear not, dear friends, let’s think of nicer things instead.

During a quick drop in at Sephora to peruse their perfume section, I was introduced to a new line of perfume. It’s interesting, in a word. The perfumes are almost exact replicas of various scents: Beach Walk, By The Fireplace, At The Barber’s. They were absolutely incredible, the Beach Walk smelled like every summer day you spent at the waves, but I wasn’t quite sold until I smelled Jazz Club. It is the perfect blend of leather, cigars, and spice. Overall, it’s a far cry from my usual preference of floral and citrus notes, but it’s truly that mind blowing. Even now, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I am intoxicated by it.

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Replica, Jazz Club

As the days have gotten darker and colder, I’ve also found myself constantly thinking about chocolate shortbread. Random? Yes. Delicious? Oh hell yes.

Now, normally I would just jump on amazon and purchase whatever my heart desired, but apparently there are not a lot of outlets for this specific craving. I know, sad day. Instead, I think I’ll look forward to making these this upcoming weekend.

Look at these intense, buttery, crumbly bites.

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Double Dark Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

And what goes better with chocolate cookies than wine?

Nothing. The answer is nothing.

On a recent trip to Carlsbad for a staycation, I stumbled upon the Witch Creek Winery. Guys. Guys. GUYS. Can I just say that the most incredible friend date ever would be to have a wine tasting trip up in Julian just for the purpose of having their wine on my lips again?

Oh, what?  A little too intense? Oops, sorry.

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Witch Creek Winery

I totally stole this picture from their Yelp reviews. My picture was in no way as pretty, mostly because I had already drank most of my glass before I even thought to bring the camera out.

And finally, some easy music with which to start your week. Honestly, it’s the kind of music I imagine on a Friday night, but I’m not yet in the mindset to fully accept that it’s not the weekend still.

brett-bixby

Brett Bixby, Fireside

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