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.

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.

Summer Days

Being a southern Californian, it is near heresy to admit that I’m not super fond of summer.

I know, I know. I’m sorry.

That said, there are certain days when everything is just perfect. These days are so much more common when you’re at the beach.

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Last Sunday we packed Jackson, a picnic, and lots of sunscreen and headed to the shores. We got there fairly early, and despite being August in the middle of vacation central, the beaches weren’t that packed (trust me, this was amazing).

After quickly settling our spot, Jackson, his grandma and I headed down to the shoreline. This child LOVES the beach (especially eating the sand) . He also has zero fear, so we made sure to keep a close eye (and constant hand) on him as every  other minute he’d try to dart out into the waves.

It was so fun to watch him. He laughed as the water came over his feet. He splashed and grabbed at seaweed passing by. He watched intently as seashells tumbled along the sand as the tide pulled back in. Again and again, like there was nothing else to do except just be there.

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After a good hour of playing at the edge of the tide, we went back to the tent to have a little lunch and take a break from the heat. Grandma gave Jackson his bottle and they hung out in the shade as Glenn and I went out into the waves.

With the sun warming our backs, we gasped as the cold water hit us higher and higher and laughed as the waves knocked us over. I haven’t been in the ocean like that for years and, at the risk of sounding completely cheesy, it was honestly freeing in a way I haven’t felt in a while. I wasn’t thinking about what else I had to do that day, I was just feeling all the different sensations- the hot sun, the cold water, the taste of salt, the graininess of the sand. It pulled me out of my head and let me enjoy that moment.

That night all of us slept soundly; that deep sleep that only comes from a full day of having fun out in the sun.

That’s the beauty of summer that I have been missing.

A Desert Weekend

This past weekend, we spent four relaxing days with my cousin and her husband at their new home in Nevada. Having traveled with Jackson before, I think both my husband and I were approaching the trip with a little trepidation. Lucky for us, my cousin is one of those hosts who manages to make everything easy and fun.

The road there is 100% desert, so there were only so many landscape pictures I could take from the car (especially since it went up to 113F the first day, making me almost completely unwilling to roll down the window.)

Despite the high heat, the looming mountains in the distance were stunning.

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Once we arrived, we hugged and chatted for a bit before finding our way to their backyard oasis. Shaded by the patio and outlined in paths of rock and desert plants, the clear blue pool took center stage. Beyond the walls and over the horizon was another gorgeous view of mountains in the distance.

The pool was perfect for hot, summer days. We spent hours in the water, splashing around with Jackson and lazily floating back and forth.

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That night (and every meal thereafter), we were fed like kings. I am still dreaming about this shortcake with tequila-soaked pineapple (yes, it was as amazing as it sounds!)

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Jackson even got a little extra special treat!

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We spent the weekend sleeping in, wine tasting, bowling, eating, and just hanging out and talking. It was definitely one of the most relaxing and comfortable weekends I’ve ever spent at someone’s house.

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We left Monday morning, and despite a wrong turn that led us to the gates of Las Vegas (so close, yet so far away!), we were rewarded with even more gorgeous mountain views. We arrived home a few hours later well rested and thoroughly content.

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All pictures, unless otherwise indicated, are taken by me.