Traditions

Christmas is five days away and while our home has looked festive for the last month or so, I am still scrambling to get everything in order with regard to gifts, accommodations for my parents, and ingredients for what will be on our Christmas Day menu.

I enjoy this time of year a lot more now that we live so much closer to my family. It’s also fun to get to share the traditions of the holidays with a toddler Kennedy, who is now old enough to understand and get excited for the big day. She’s also debuted some new traditions with my mom and me. Well, new to her, anyway. We’ve been baking cookies together for decades!

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Cutting cookies! ✂️ We introduced K to my grandmother’s recipe box this week.

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…and decorating 🌈

She also did a lot better with Santa Claus this year than in the past!

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2014 vs. 2016

And we all got to enjoy a Christmas party together that my fabulously talented husband catered (to perfection!).

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Fam bam❤️

Each year, I’m sure we all hear an earful from someone aiming to point out the overly commercial nature of the Christmas holiday as it is celebrated in the Western world, so I won’t start down that path here. What I will say, though, is that even if you are someone who chooses to indulge in the holiday for all its sparkly capitalism, do not do so devoid of generosity, making memories, and kindness. I’ve seen way too many people use Christmas gifting as a means for trying to prove their love or make others jealous, and that’s definitely not the right emotion to place behind giving.

Thankful

Trans Siberian Orchestra is pumping through my speakers, my homemade cranberry sauce is cooling in the fridge, and the smell of green bean casserole is wafting through the house on this beautiful Thanksgiving morning. I have about seven different tasks I need to tend to, which include getting showered to head over to my parents’ house for dinner, but I wanted to stop in and quickly chronicle all that I am grateful for this year.

It’s been a year of twists and turns as the place I was when the year started is vastly different from where I sit now, with only about 37 days left until 2016 is up.

I am grateful to have mustered up courage this year.
I had to defend my thesis for the MBA program, put myself out there for a job I wasn’t even sure I was qualified for, and walk away from certain things and people that I decided weren’t serving me anymore. It isn’t easy to decide to walk your own path, but I stepped out onto my own through redefining my priorities this year, and for that I am both proud of myself, and grateful to have done.

I am grateful for my faith.
I should’ve listed this first, and it’s pretty obvious for anyone who knows me that the aforementioned accomplishments I attribute first and foremost to the grace of God, but my faith carried me through some very difficult and testing times this year. I am so grateful to not resist Jesus, His calling to me, and His will.

I am grateful for my family.
We’re finally adding a new member…! My marriage is back on track! I have the most beautiful daughter imaginable! My parents are spectacular! Nuff said.

I am grateful for this blog.
I’ve ditched all other platforms of social media (more on that later) but this blog is and will always remain my greatest outlet for publicly sharing anything I want. It’s been my baby since my last few days as a 29 year old, and I’ve grown through having it. I love chronicling parts of my life journey here, not so much for people to read about (though I do adore all of my readers) but to have something to look back on later.

I’m also grateful for good food, which I will be chowing down on soon.🍗

Here’s to FOOD COMAS!!

Happy Thanksgiving 🦃

‘Tis the Season

The season has finally changed here, as evidenced by this crazy cold temp we welcomed in the other morning…

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Brrrrr!

The seasonal pattern down here is very different from how it was in SoCal. In California, I’d spend most of the year longing for the sunny, warm weather of spring and summer because summers there are bearable. Fall and winter are bearable too, but beach-going in those off season months means ridiculously cold water, so you just kind of chill on the sand, and it’s usually windy, so not always the most ideal beach conditions. With the beach only about a 10-minute drive away, a dip in spring or summer is easy and comfortable; water temps are much warmer from March through August/September. But overall, the weather is easier to contend with because there’s not much severity (or at least there had not been in the first 20 years of my living there) with regard to heat or cold. Climate change (whether anyone wants to admit it or not) has brought severe heat and dryness to the area, and winters have gotten colder (it even snowed in certain parts of the Inland Valley in December 2014).

This post isn’t about weather patterns or global warming. Sorry if that’s what you came for.

Here in Florida, the opposite is true – I pine after cool weather months as they are a relief from the severe heat and humidity we face from May through September/October. I live much farther away from the beach now, so a dip in the Atlantic requires a day trip. I don’t mind that so much, but it limits us to only going on the weekends. We have plans and the room to add a pool to our backyard, so that will help us cope in the future. For the time being, we celebrate when the leaves change and the air becomes cooler and our AC unit stops kicking on regularly throughout the day.

Combine this change in temps with my current urge to nest, along with some killer specials at Michael’s, and Christmas has exploded early at our house.

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My nutcrackers are back 🙂


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I ALMOST bought a new wreath this year, but I opted to dress up the old one for a fraction of the cost. This wreath originally was all green and silver.

I know, I know…”But Antoinette, you love fall!” Yes, that’s true, but I love Christmas even more. And, Kennedy is just that age where Christmas is becoming that perfect level of magical. She’s old enough to understand what the holiday is about, and young enough to still believe in Santa Claus (a nifty tactic for controlling tantrums and other bad behavior, by the way). She’s old enough to help out with Christmas baking and decorating, and young enough that she isn’t too cool for family traditions. I’ve been waiting for her to reach this point since she was born, so I’m in mother-daughter heaven with her a bit.

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Christmas card teaser! This isn’t what went to print this year, but it is one photo we took. Super easy to do with some holiday props and a selfie stick. 

I’m also in mother-son heaven with a growing bump to show off in fall/winter rather than spring/summer. When I was pregnant before, I thought it’d be better to be pregnant during spring/summer for ease of wardrobe. Perhaps that is true in San Diego where the temps are easier to deal with, but here, the North Central Florida heat killed my spirit and motivation during my first trimester. I wouldn’t wish such a fate on anyone, even those I can’t stand. Nausea + sticky hotness is just a fucking chore, so needless to say, I’ve been LONGING for it to get cooler out here.

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23 Weeks. Fall/Winter bump > Spring/Summer bump.

I’m not nauseous anymore, but I have other things to contend with by way of sciatic nerve pain, low back pain, hip joint pain, and Braxton Hicks contractions (which are more uncomfortable than they are painful). None of them are fun, but I’ll take those over the nausea. My back might hurt, but at least I can eat Chipotle again. 🙂

A growing bump also means a growing baby with bigger kicks and rolls, and though they sometimes send me rushing to the bathroom to pee, or keep me up at night, I’m so enamored with feeling my son’s movements. We’re also in the fun phase of planning for him where we’ll start (I say “we,” but really it’s just Fabian) painting and purchase matching sheets. I got curtains on sale at Kohl’s a few weeks back and plan to have the glider rocking chair reupholstered. Decorating has kind of been my jam lately, so it’ll be fun to create a new space for a baby boy – something I haven’t done before.

The incoming holidays also mean more time that we get to spend with family, something that has always been a priority for me regardless of the time of year. As I’ve grown and changed this year, I’ve found myself clinging tighter to my family as my inner circle, basing more of my activities around my opportunities to involve them. Especially as my parents get older, it’s important to me to keep setting aside the time for them, even through the differences I experience with them (particularly, my dad). We aren’t meant to move through this life alone; my belief in God and Jesus means that they serve as my Creator and Savior, but belief in them doesn’t cancel out the need for companionship and a sense of purpose. My purpose used to be vague to me, and in many ways it is still undefined to me, but through the growth and development of my own family I’ve come to appreciate the place I have in relation to them, and the value they all hold for me. That’s probably one of the things I am most grateful for this holiday season: realizing my importance through my family.

Christmas Eve

As I’ve grown up, I’ve come to value Christmas Eve as an even better holiday than Christmas day. I think it’s because in my family, we use Christmas Eve as an excuse to day drink, eat cookies and pie for breakfast, listen to Christmas music and sing along obnoxiously, and anticipate what the following day might bring. It’s also the last day of the real “season” – after Christmas morning, all of the gifts are opened, yummy meals are served and eaten, and the excitement is over. We leave our Christmas tree up until New Year’s Day, but without presents underneath it, it always looks bare to me.

I’m excited for Kennedy’s second first Christmas to happen with her grandparents. I feel like grandparents are the icing and sprinkles on the metaphorical Christmas cupcake that millions of children yearn to dig into every December 25th. As parents, we work hard to make sure that the holiday is fun and memorable, but Grandma and Grandpa really drive it home.

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SOME of the gifts we’ll exchange tomorrow. Special thanks to my friends in other states for the packages sent in anticipation of the holiday. It’s nice to know we’re not forgotten even though we’ve moved!

Presents are wrapped, lights are strung and gleaming, cookies are ready for baking, and five hearts – mine, mom’s, dad’s, hubby’s, and Kennedy’s – are all together. It doesn’t really get much more perfect for me.

Christmas Card Photo Outtakes

I took a bunch of photos of Kennedy for our Christmas card this year. It was a challenge, but extremely fun. I’m so excited for our family and friends to receive our cards! Here are some photos that are really cute, but didn’t make the cut:

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I adore this picture, and it almost went to print for the Christmas card. I plan to hang this in our new house.