Mastering the Master Bedroom: The Reveal

As I mentioned in a post last week, I’ve recently taken on styling my master bedroom- a room more or less neglected since we bought our first home in 2013.

After weeks of scouring Pinterest, I had a solid plan for the direction I wanted to take. It wasn’t particularly expensive or drastic, which was perfect considering my budget was minimal and I really didn’t have the time or energy to devote to a full scale project. I decided to include a soft pink to our already present grey and white color scheme, and looked around for fairly inexpensive items that would contribute most to the overall look.

Master Bedroom Inspiration

The vast difference came from finally finding a place for all the items we had stored along the walls and in the closet. This took a solid afternoon and huge pile of donations to Goodwill. During the same time, I finally hung a collage of pictures and mementos that I had been putting off since we first moved in. The floor was finally clean and the giant blank wall finally had some art.

In this initial period, I also made my first purchase- twelve fabric lined boxes to use on the shelves of my open closet. The boxes were inexpensive, and looking back I would probably have bought them for a higher price in store since the ones I received had noticeable color variations. Nevertheless, it has helped to create a much cleaner look to the closet. Once overwhelmed with various colors and clothing items, now the clean lines and subtle color draws less attention to the least important aspect of the room.

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One of the higher priced items on the list were new lights. We had lived with one Ikea table lamp for years, but our current room was ridiculously dark and I hated trying to do anything productive in there after the sun had gone down. I found these gorgeous faceted table lamp bases at Target a few weeks before deciding on a corresponding grey herringbone lampshade. The bottom pattern provides a modern look to the room, which I adore, and the small print of the lampshade give it texture without overdoing the whole look. Nearly half of the final $125 spent went towards the table lamps, and for good measure. The room is finally bright enough to spend time in there without feeling like I’m about to go to sleep. I’ve found myself in there much more often since these were included.

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Another major part of the money spent, oddly enough, was on the two throw blankets. The first was this soft number from Amazon. After spending something like two hours searching through all the major sites, Amazon once again came through like a pro and provided the perfect blanket for the perfect price. Then, during my search for the lamps, I found another soft pink throw in the clearance section at Target. This one had been a bit more of what I was looking for initially, and the clearance price made it easier to excuse the fact that I was buying two throws for a room that already had a duvet. I can honestly say that I’m delighted that I bought them both. In addition to adding the soft pink color that I was looking for the room, they just make me so darn happy. They’re soft, they’re pink, they’re warm- what more could I ask for?

Then there were the added features that didn’t cost a cent. An often-repeated sentiment by home décor bloggers is to use items from around your house- moving them from one room to be repurposed in another. But as much as I was on board with this notion, this was surprisingly hard to replicate. You see, there are hoarders and then on the far other end of the spectrum, there’s me. I tend to donate pretty much anything that I am not currently using or intend to use within the year. Goodwill loves me and my husband thinks I’m stubbornly unsentimental. It keeps our house tidier, but the effects of this lifestyle definitely made itself known when I tried to find something to reuse for the bedroom.

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The one item I did find for the room was a set of patterned white curtains that had been originally used in the living room of our old house. I distinctly remember having them in hand, ready to toss in the goodwill pile, when I remembered that I should probably use them in the guest bedroom. They never made it there (thankfully), and are now being used to break up the full sheet of grey that once coated our window. This had the added benefit of blocking out more of the morning sun that often peeks around our blackout shade, but also helps brighten the room when I pull up the shade during the day.

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One other free item actually came from a collaborative effort. I asked my mother and sister to check their linen cabinets for any old pink sheets (they are more the “collective” types, so I figured I may get lucky!). My sister found a top sheet way in the back that was the exact color I had been looking to incorporate. My mother in law (the saint), then sewed it into two pillowcases to achieve the exact look I had been drooling over on Pinterest.

Overall, I’m ridiculously thrilled with the outcome of the room. I hadn’t really expected such minor changes to make such a large impact, but I genuinely surprised at how much it looks like the very pictures I kept returning to.

Rainy Monday

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It’s a rainy Monday morning and I think both Jack and I are wary to start our week. Always ahead of the game, Jack has hit his terrible two’s already and Glenn and I are just trying to keep up. This weekend was full of timeouts and a lot of tears on Jack’s part (both sad and pure fury).

In the end though, I know it’s just a stage. He’s such a wonderfully sweet and loving little boy and he mostly just wants our attention. And cookies.

Until then, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim, swim.

All The Lovely Things: A Bright Weekend

Happy Friday All!

While this week was shorter with the holiday, the departure of a close coworker has landed a bit of extra work on my lap. And although I enjoy the work (mostly), I certainly enjoy spending time at home a lot bit more.

I don’t have a specific list of “to-dos” this weekend for the first time in a while. We’ve been knocking out things left and right, with more still to do, but I’m not feeling that strong push to get anything done RIGHT NOW. Instead, I’m looking forward to spending some quiet time working on our front yard, making some delicious treats, and chasing my son through the green grass of our backyard (thank you rain!).

I also need to take pictures of our newly decorated bedroom. We made the changes last weekend and it has made all the difference in the world. I love stepping through the door and seeing the pretty soft colors working together, it feels so special now!

Until then, here are a few lovely things to occupy your mind.

Easy-Spanish-Tapas

Easy Spanish Tapas

My mom is hosting a tapas party this Saturday, and with it is checking off a long held bucket list item. You know how I feel about bucket lists, so I’m really excited for her to be doing this. Plus, you know… food. I’m looking forward to olive oil and herb soaked cheeses, roasted peppers, and salty olives. And, of course, the wine.

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All The Pretty Girls

I recently fell in love with this song and haven’t been able to shake its spell. His voice reminds me slightly of Bon Iver, which I adore. Perfect for a quiet Saturday morning, watching the sky light up slowly.

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Eric Haseltine: Can The Past Guide Us To Future Scientific Breakthroughs?

Eric Haseltine’s presentation featured on the TED Radio Hour honestly made me reconsider switching up my career entirely for one in science. The man alone is fascinating, and his talk will draw you in instantly.

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STEMULATION Daily Micro Derm Scrub

And finally, my favorite item of the week.

I just got a new bottle of this scrub after stretching the last one a few weeks too long. While the last one held up despite my obvious disgrace to it (aka watering it down- the shame!), the new bottle makes my heart sing. It has a gorgeous light citrusy scent and the scrub itself is mild but incredibly effective. I get mine at a deep discount through Fabfitfun ($14), but it’s also available on Amazon. This scrub has made my daily showers insanely luxurious. After seeing the difference between my worn out bottle (which again, was still amazing) and the new one, I’ve vowed to suck up the price and use it faster- it’s so worth it.

Mastering The Master Bedroom

I have a new obsession. Surprising, I know. It’s not like I do this every month.

Since Glenn and I first bought our home in 2013, we’ve never really put much effort into our bedroom. It has always been the one room in our house that we passed over when styling, the last to be cleaned, and generally just ignored. Then we uprooted last year and bought our current home, and with that came a ton of work. Complete renovations to the bathrooms, new paint, new flooring, as well as deciding on a new color theme and style to fit our new home. When we finally settled down, the most we had really done to our bedroom décor wise was to put in our furniture and hang up some curtains. It was sad, you guys, and it only got worse.

Over the next year, our master bedroom has become a catch-all for anything that didn’t have a place in the house. It became even worse after my cousin moved into our spare bedroom last September, and we had to move our junk to make room for all his things.

But no more, I’m done having random items line the walls and having to reach over piles of stuff to get into my closet. I’m done having our bedroom be a collection of odds and ends. Everywhere else in our home has been more or less decorated with a purpose but our bedroom was always an afterthought. I am finally ready to put the effort into turning our room into a place we love, not just a place we sleep.

I’ve actually been musing this for weeks now. I looked through my old pins and their common themes. Turns out- they’re pretty much the same picture over and over again. Seriously, look.

Bedroom Inspiration

Imperfect, simple, soft, and cozy. We already have a strong gray and white theme through our house, and the addition of a soft pink gives it a uniqueness to the rest of the rooms. This is my retreat.

There actually isn’t much I have to do. The biggest will be getting rid of the things that don’t belong and organizing the rest. I want to do something with our closet. We got rid of the doors since they were very old and yellowed, but the closet itself is lacking. Right now my clothes are folded and placed directly on the shelving, which wouldn’t be an issue if I could close it off- but its front and center right now. I’ll be investing in something to make the space a bit more uniform until we can afford to invest in a real closet set up.

Then, I’ll focus on adding more light (our one lamp is not cutting it), and a few little décor touches. I don’t want to add items to the tables, but I do want to add more color and brighten the space up a bit. Our furniture is expresso and our duvet, curtains, and carpet are grey- it’s pretty dark. I’ll definitely be adding some white and a light pink in the mix to help lighten the overall feel.

Finally, it’s time we got something on our walls. This is honestly the least of my concerns, but it will make the room more personal, which I like.

I think I’ll be able to do the major renovation this weekend, depending on shipping times, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it all comes together. In the end it will probably cost me something around $150, but it will be worth it to finally get this room in control.

As A Mom: My Body Post Pregnancy

Of course, pregnancy was only half the story of my new “mom” body. My delivery and post-delivery have dramatically shaped how I view my physical self, though this is a bit more emotional than my experience while pregnant.

I was a bit hesitant to go into this. In some ways I feel like I can’t properly express all the emotions that went into those first ten days of Jackson’s life. The joy at him being there and okay despite what happened, the tears of missing out on so many of those first moments of his life, the fear of the wires in and around his body. The fullness of that can’t be put in to words. In the end though, he is here and healthy, and we are so grateful for that. We are so lucky when so many aren’t. But the experience still remains in the back of my mind, and it has changed me in so many ways.

I labored for over 30 hours before the nurses called in for an emergency cesarean. I had assumed that this was coming, and actually asked that they just do the cesarean before it became an emergency, but they seemed to think a natural birth could still happened for a while. Eventually though, my labor became too hard on the baby and it was time for plan b. By the time it finally came I had long made peace with the new plan and was more than ready both physically and mentally.

The surgery itself seemed to go by stunningly fast. Jackson was born and emitted by far the angriest cry I’ve ever heard from a child. But something was wrong. He was sent to NICU with Glenn following closely behind. After some time in recovery, I was allowed to visit him for a few minutes. I stared at him, touched him gently, and apologized over and over. This was not the birth I expected, I couldn’t even hold him.

After twenty minutes, the nurse told me I had to go rest, and they wheeled me back to my room until I could “prove myself” the next day (they want to make sure you can walk and won’t faint or bleed, I’m assuming). The prospect of being able to see Jackson again gave me the will to stand up the minute they put me in my room, but unfortunately that didn’t mean they thought I was ready.

Ten hours and a hundred requests later, a nurse came in and asked if I felt up to it. I was standing by the time she finished her sentence.

This act, my body literally standing up to a challenge, is what I leaned on in the following months when I began to blame it for putting Jackson through that experience in the first place. Maybe if my body had gone into labor on its own, maybe if I had been able to deliver him naturally, he wouldn’t have had the pneumothorax. Perhaps the act of being birthed would have spread the mucus coating on the inside of his lungs over the spot left unguarded and he wouldn’t have pierced his lung with that first strong cry. I know it’s incredibly unlikely, but I still question myself and my body now.

At least I know that I saw him as soon as my body was given the opportunity. Moreover, from then on my body continued to function as high as it could. I sat in a hard chair that first day for hours, not even a full day after my body had been cut open and a baby taken out. I sat in many chairs over the next 10 days, spending as much time with my little boy as I could. My body woke in the middle of the night, just two hours after I finally got into bed, to answer the call of his nurse telling me it was time to feed him. It allowed me to walk carefully down the hall to a hungry baby again and again. When I was discharged, but Jackson wasn’t, my body let me wake up at 5am and not go back home until 11 that night. It was the trooper I needed, and it let me do what I had to do. For that, I am so grateful.

Talking with friends later on, long after Jackson came home and he was adorable and chubby, the question would often be what I thought about my post pregnancy body. This is a popular topic at the moment, and it’s amazing to see women come to grips with how their bodies have changed after having children. It is, after all, the physical point of your being, right? I would respond that I thought it was doing magnificently given how poorly I was treating it.

Honestly, once Jackson arrived my body became an afterthought for over a year. At times I think I even purposefully treated it poorly, eating too many things I knew weren’t good for it and not moving it enough. After I emerged from the fog though, I knew I had let it go too long. I began to eat healthier, exercise, and take better care of it in general. It’s rewarded me without grudge, letting go of the weight I had been told it would hold tightly on to.

My body is not the same as it was before Jackson, in some ways it is better and in others it’s a bit squishier. I still have my scar, I don’t know if I will ever lose my pouch, and I’m not always a fan of how it looks visually; but I can say with absolute honesty that I am so grateful for what it has given me. It grew my son, it pushed through when it needed to, and it has been gentle with me even when I didn’t deserve it.

This is the view of myself that I hope to keep for the rest of my life. A body that is more than what it looks like, a body that is strong and up for the challenge.

As A Mom: My Body During Pregnancy

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A while back a friend and I had a long conversation about our bodies and how our view of them have changed over the years. This discussion sparked a longer thought process as I began to consider how my body, and view of it, has changed since pregnancy. Long overdue considering Jackson is over a year old, but important nonetheless.

My experience is in no way a reflection of anyone else’s experience with their body during or after pregnancy. Not only do women have vastly different pregnancies, but each are colored by personal history, perceptions, and reactions. This is the reason I won’t talk about my tiger stripes (I was already indifferent about my plethora of “doughnut stripes” long before I ever got pregnant), failing to gain weight (ha, no problem there), or the experience of delivering naturally (I ended up getting an emergency cesarean after a glorious epidural.)

Caveats aside, I do believe one of the most obvious and daily experiences during pregnancy was not actually a product of my body itself. Rather, the moment I told people I was pregnant, it almost seemed as though my body became public property. How many women have shared their experiences with a waiter denying them coffee, a coworker commenting on their food choice, or dear lord- their weight? I would assume the vast majority of pregnant women have had at least one experience pregnant that they would never have otherwise.

With Jackson, I barely showed until 7 months in, whereupon a loving and doting coworker told me that I didn’t look fat anymore, I just looked pregnant. Later, after coming back from maternity leave, another coworker was astounded by how “great” I looked, considering how “huge” I got before I left. These, honestly, were hilarious to me- probably for the main fact that these women would never have said something of this nature at any other time. And yes, pregnancy does have a tendency to make someone comically large, so I get it- I really do. Sometimes you can’t help yourself.

Honestly, what was stranger was when someone would comment on something I should or shouldn’t do anymore. I remember how mind-blowingly weird it was when early in my pregnancy I got excited and jumped up and down, only to be told that I shouldn’t be jumping. At seven weeks, my mind has just begun to wrap around the concept that there was something the size of a blueberry nestled inside my body, it couldn’t even fathom how jumping four inches off the ground could threaten its survival. But time and time again I was told I should no longer do the things I had always done without a thought. I went in to pregnancy knowing this would happen later as my belly grew and got in the way; but even in my first trimester I was protected from carrying a case of water, moving a folding table, etc. Having always had a strong body, I was suddenly being told to resist doing things that I had never considered difficult. It was very hard to reconcile this new state with my old body identity.

I know without a doubt that this and any other comment I received while pregnant was made with love and protectiveness, and not only for me but also my unborn child. Of course I made a few playful retorts, but I really did try to take this advice as the ultimate form of compassion. Nevertheless, it is very bewildering when you are suddenly being told how to function when you’ve been functioning fine all along.

In the same vein was the profound realization that I was vulnerable for the first time in my life. Not that it was the first time I was actually vulnerable, but certainly the first time I actually physically felt like I could no longer “go to bat” if a situation required it. I spent months processing this new information. Having always been a tall and fairly large woman, I rarely ever felt nervous about my surroundings. I knew it was unlikely that anyone would ever try to start anything, and if they did- at least I knew I could fight back. More concerning was knowing that if something was ever happening to Glenn that I wouldn’t be able to help. I know that not many people consider this the women’s “role” in the relationship, but I have always felt the need to protect those I love. However, as Jackson grew inside my belly, I knew that his life came first. It wasn’t that my arms were weaker, or I was slower (though that definitely happened too), but rather that I couldn’t place him in danger. He was vulnerable, and thus I was completely vulnerable too.

This vulnerability and protectiveness has continued to have a profound effect on how I navigate the world since Jackson was born. While I once was too overprotective, often willing to put myself in harm’s way for others, I’ve become more protective over my child and myself. It’s not surprising that I’m this way for my child, but I’m still surprised by the change towards myself. I guess that makes sense though, right? Now that my well-being directly affects my child, it’s no wonder I consider it a higher priority.

While I often thought of how my body was changing physically during pregnancy, it was how this affected others and my actions that really caused me to pause. This, more than anything, shaped my view of my body during that transitional period.

Talking It Out

I was going to start the Friday off with a Lovely Things post, but my head is just not in it today. Rather than pushing it just to get something out, I figured I’d have a one-sided discussion on communication (the irony is not lost on me, I promise).

I feel like the topic of communication has kept creeping up in my consciousness lately. A discussion on the communication between Lorelei and Luke during the latest season of Gilmore Girls, going to dinner with my mom and sister and talking for hours, discussing a lack of a coworker’s communication with my boss- this and so much more have happened just in a week’s time.

While I briefly alluded to working on my social skills on my 2017 Bucket List, communication is really the driving force in it all. I want to get better at listening and responding to those around me. But this week, like many before, has been so hard- I’m just so tired and all I want is to be home. I am looking at a weekend of exciting activities and being surrounded by people who will inevitably be interesting and interested in discussion, but I’m having a really hard time getting pumped for that right now.

Also, since my cousin has come to live with us, I’ve noticed how quiet of a family we are. Now dinners are much livelier, and we’re talking more than I ever realized was possible for a weeknight meal. I love it, and I want to work on this so it’s something we’ll have after my cousin leaves, but I know from my own childhood how easy it is to fall back into silence.

This isn’t just at the dinner table either, I am always surprised how much people have to say to their children while at the park, talking to them about everything under the sun while pushing their babies on swings. This isn’t to say that I don’t speak to Jackson, I go out of my way to talk things over and explain what is going on around us, but there is definitely a difference in our topics. Most often, I only remember to talk when there is something that needs to be communicated- information that should be shared. I will ask Jackson to “please stay on the sidewalk love, the street is dangerous” but I have a hard time thinking of things to say like, “Do you see that ball? Isn’t it a pretty ball? It’s blue, it’s a blue ball.” Don’t get me wrong, repetition is absolutely how children learn, and I’m not knocking it. I just have a seriously hard time thinking of what to say when I know I should be saying something, anything.

This doesn’t even just apply to children, I’m the same way with the adults around me. I have a select few people that I can talk to for hours. However, if I’m with someone I don’t know as well or if I’m not well acquainted with the subject matter, my brain shuts off until it has information to communicate again. Small talk just doesn’t come easily; but in our society, it’s imperative that I’m able to do it. It lubricates the gears of friendships, business, etc.

Thankfully, I do have my few that I communicate well with, but I want to train my mind to be better at this with the broader population. So, while I would really prefer to pop in my headphones and fold laundry or go on a long walk, I will take this activity laden weekend and use it for the fantastic opportunity it is.

And then I’m going to go to sleep early, because man, I am SO TIRED.

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And then there are times I can’t shut up

Photo by my incredible sister

My 2017 Bucket List

Hello! Happy to see you this new year.

As Adele says, “Hello from the other siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide”

*Ba dum tiss*

Yea, I know I’m about 10 days late to the party. The champagne has long been drank (I know, I drank it), the ball has dropped, and several million people have already failed their New Year resolutions.

That’s where I come in. By pure tardiness alone, I’ve already won over them ALL.

Just joking.

No, I’ve actually been planning my 2017 Bucket List for weeks now. WEEKS you guys. And I keep rewriting it!

Let me back up, lest you get lost.

A long, long time ago (2014), in a galaxy far, far away (my couch), I decided that only one bucket list a lifetime was for losers. Instead, I began a tradition of creating a yearly bucket list of activities I want to experience. This is anything from a breathtaking hike, dancing at a concert, experiencing something (anything!) new, going on a fun trip, etc. While I cross off activities throughout the year, I update my list with a brief note and the date. By the end of the year it kind of functions like a condensed journal. Fun idea, right?

[As a queen of lists, I also have my lifetime bucket list, organized by degree of effort and scale of travel, but we’re going to ignore this one for now because I do not have enough time to delve into that vat of crazy.]

So- 2017! What do we have in store for me?

Truthfully, it’s been a bit hard to really think of items to do this year. Previous years seemed so simple, but I was young and naïve and had a lot more time on my hands. This year, I’ve also really felt the need to include a stronger push for a new subsection, “Be A F*cking Adult”.

That’s why I’ve struggled, I guess. In the past my goals were mainly focused on activities to cross off, fun to be had, and while I certainly want to keep this ridiculously important aspect of my life, I also strongly feel the need to include items I would never have included before. And then it turned into a revolving door of self-reflection and that tedious question, “dear god, is this who I am now? I do not do resolutions!”

Guess what buttercup? I have some d*mned resolutions.

So here we go. I’ve organized it…. because of course I would.

Activities:
_ Go to a concert (Backstreet Boys) – March
_ MS Walk with Glenn and Jack- April
_ Alzheimer’s Walk with Jeni- October
_ Go on a crazy beautiful hike with Glenn
_ Go on a vacation with Glenn, just the two of us
_ Buy dinner for someone in real need
_ Go to a drive in movie with Glenn
_ Work on a headstand
_ Practice calligraphy
_ Go to a concert with Glenn
_ Seriously, join a damn book club (if you can’t tell, this one has been a previously unfulfilled goal on many other years)
_ Complete the yoga challenge: 10 days of yoga CLASSES (none of this at home bs)
_ Become a constant donor to a charity
_ Enjoy wine and cheese at an outdoor movie with Tootsie
_ Take mom indoor skydiving
_ Go to an indoor trampoline gym

Long-term Goals:
_ Do an outdoor activity with Jackson at least once a weekend
_ Do an outdoor activity with myself at least once a weekend
_ Distance self from constantly checking Facebook (or other media) on my phone. Put it away from the time I get home until after Jackson is in bed
_ Spend more one on one time with Glenn
_ Be more generous. Don’t expect anything in return
_ Try to be more patient with everyone
_ Spend more time with Jackson and less time doing unimportant things

Be A F*cking Adult:
_ Create a living will with Glenn
_ Stop cursing (we really don’t need Jackson saying *sshole)
_ Work on your social skills at work (…and everywhere else)
_ Build up this blog into a legitimate working machine. Not for profit, per se, but as something I can be proud of.
_ Start my 401k (seriously though)
_ Save $1500 in personal savings

As the year goes on I will inevitably add to this list. Usually it’s when I do something cool and add it on so I can check it off again. What can I say, I like being efficient. Nevertheless, at the end of the year I will repost this list with my notes on what I did, what I didn’t do, and how the year went in general. I do really hope to make solid progress on not only the fun activities, but some of the more serious matters as well.

What’s on your list, fellow resolutioners? Do you usually strive to become better in some way, or are you more like me and just look forward to all the fun you’ll have this year? Do you have a bucket list or five?

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”