A Little Life Update

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We’re back from vacation and ready to live out the rest of this summer and this pregnancy. (5 more weeks to go!)

It’s been awhile since I gave an update on what is going on (other than pregnancy updates). So I thought I’d pop in quick to fill you in.

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  • Ryan started a new job yesterday. Yes, the Monday after we returned from vacation. He is proud to be a law clerk for a family law judge in Wilmington, DE. This is a great one year opportunity and so far he likes everything about it.
  • We are NOT moving. I feel like a crazy person when I tell people this because at first we were going to move last year, and then we were going to move this summer before the baby, and then changed our minds and decided to move in the Fall after the baby arrived. Well, now we’re just not going to move at all. Ryan will have an hour and ten minute commute to Wilmington but we both decided that staying in our current house is what is best for our family. It felt silly (and expensive) to move away from family support and my job for less than a year. We are both relieved with this decision. I was so stressed about packing and moving with a newborn and I do like our home and neighborhood. 
  • So since we are not moving, I’ve dived head first into setting up a permanent nursery for Baby Mac. I now understand why they say it’s best to do this in your second trimester, because I have zero energy to get anything done. His room (our former office) currently looks like Babies R Us exploded in it. I’m tackling it bit by bit and have loved picking every little detail out. I can’t wait until it’s complete, hopefully after this weekend. The baby’s room is going to be the nicest room in our whole house!
  • Now that I know we are staying here, I get very excited picturing the moments we will share with Baby Mac in this home. I can’t wait for snuggles on our couch and bed, for long walks on our numerous walking paths, and sunny afternoons outside with Maggie.
  • It’s been a very busy and fun summer but I have made very little plans for the rest of the month. I’m looking forward to simply sleeping and resting (while I still have the chance to). I have high hopes of getting the house super organized, preparing some freezer meals, and cleaning, but taking care of myself will come first.IMG_0782.JPG
  • I have fivish more weeks until the baby is due and it is seriously scary. I feel like there is still so much to do. I have someone who will be covering my job during my maternity leave, which is a huge relief. I’m currently worrying too much about my boss and my job and how it will get done while I’m gone and how hard it will be to go back. I truly hope those anxieties lessen once the baby arrives.

And that’s basically our life in a nutshell right now! How are you spending your August?  

 

Our Christmas

You know how sometimes after you come home from a vacation in need of another vacation? That’s how I feel after these past 6 days of celebrating Christmas with our friends and family. 

It was a non stop whirlwind of eating, drinking, and singing. Full of laughs, traditions, old stories and endless hours playing Heads Up, Guestures, and Apples to Apples. If I am what I eat, I am currently Christmas Cookies, Cosmos, Tuaca, Dip, and Chex Mix. I love when my whole family is together (Mom, Dad, my brother Eric, sister-in-law Veronica, Ryan, Pop Pop and myself).

Boisterous, loud, all encompassing love was all around. 

I’m still “re plugging” back into the “real” world.  It was a nice little break. Until I’m back in full force here are some photos from our Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. 

I hope you had a lovely few days celebrating however you celebrate. 

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Think Positive Monday: Making Time for Christmas

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(Think Positive Monday: sharing tips and keeping me in line to live a happier and more positive life)

The phrase, “Make Time For Christmas” sounds a little odd.

Why do I need to “make time” for Christmas when the Christmas season is banging on our door the minute after Halloween ends? I’ve been shopping, prepping, decorating, singing Christmas songs, and baking all season long. Christmas is everywhere. I don’t need to “make time” for it, I’m living it every second. 

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Yes Christmas is everywhere. And as much as I love this season I sometimes catch myself just going through the motions. Sometimes treating traditions like another thing to check of my ever-growing to do list. Before you know it, Christmas day is upon us and over in a blink of an eye. Pretty soon all the decorations are coming down and music goes back to our regular non festive favorites and we’re stuck with Winter blues. 

I think one of the most fun things about Christmas is the preparation.

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The decorating the tree, the baking, the making bows for packages,the buying of the gifts, the parties and all the treats and music. If you’re only thinking of the end game, you’ll be missing out on more than half the fun.

It’s easy to get caught up in the rush and busyness and forget to actually enjoy the little things that makes this holiday so special. The little things ARE the big things and I think that can often get lost in this overwhelming time of year. 

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This week I’m promising myself to really make time for Christmas.To savor the waiting. To reflect on what this season really means to me.  To bask in the glow of the Christmas tree with a good book. To dance to Christmas music with Ryan while we’re making dinner. To spend extra time with family and friends. To allow the season to bring out the child in me. To admire beauty to act silly and sing my heart out. To take notice of every little detail and memory. I want to enjoy every little moment the best I can.

So I’ll be signing off the blog for the rest of the week to truly enjoy Christmas. You can always follow along on instagram.  

My brother and his wife arrive tomorrow and we have a full week of fun and love with my family and Ryan’s family and friends. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

I wish you and yours a very Happy Holiday Season, however which way you celebrate!  

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Sentiments on Marriage and Christmas Trees

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Ah, The Christmas Tree.

I can’t express how much I love our family’s Christmas tree. The tradition. The memories. The emotions the memories bring.  The ornaments that each hold a little story. Ornaments from my childhood and ornaments from way before I was born from my Pop-Pop’s family. The adventure of going to the farm to pick it out. The way it lights up the living room. Filling us with those warm and fuzzy feelings. 

But damn, it can be a bitch to pick out and set up. Raise your hand if any work regarding your annual Christmas tree has started a minor argument or eye rolls or looks of resentment between you and your partner? 

We trekked out to a farm to pick out our Christmas tree on Black Friday. Or I should say, farms. We went to three different farms before we found “the one”. We lamented over size and price. That one was too bushy at the bottom, that one has a huge bare spot at the top, this one is outrageously overpriced, and that one isn’t full enough. 

Once we get home we struggle to get it perfectly in the stand. I hold the tree by the trunk while Ryan lies on his stomach trying to screw the base into place. It’s always crooked on the first try. Teach me your skills if you can perfectly set you tree in the stand on the first try. So then we try again and one of the washers gets dropped into the bottom of the base. Out comes the whole tree and we start over from scratch Then we get it “pretty good” but then argue over an inch or two to the left or to the back. Then we have to twist it so the prettiest angle is facing out front. By that point it’s crooked all over again. 

Then comes the lights. We work swiftly as a team only to realize that we started with the light cord “plug in” at the top rather than the bottom and have to start over again. I try to drape the lights perfectly over the branches rather than rush it. We’re eye rolling at each other’s “methods” and are both ready to scream, “Just let me do it!”

But then it is done. The tree is perfectly straight. The lights are draped evenly. We plug it in and step back to look at our masterpiece. Standing arm and arm we take a sigh as we let the beauty of the tree wrap us in farm and fuzzy feelings. That night we enjoy our usual TV consumption while under the glow and scent of the Christmas tree. It’s heavenly. 

We snuggle up in bed, happy with ourselves and our holiday spirit. Then comes 6:30 a.m. and I’m woken by a loud crash. Thinking Ryan broke a breakfast plate I yell downstairs asking if he’s okay. When I get no reply, I realize he has already left the house. Panicked, I rush down the stairs and find our perfect Christmas tree lying on the ground. Countless irreplaceable and antique ornaments shattered and water everywhere.

I cry. And then start picking up the mess. I call Ryan and he turns around and comes back home and helps me. We’re both agitated, frustrated, and sad. In total it takes two hours to clean up the mess, to un-decorate the rest of the tree, and find a way to make it stand upright again. 

I’m heartbroken over the ornaments lost. They are memories of my childhood, of traditions, and family members. They are only things. But they still hurt. My Christmas spirit was low for a bit. I went out and purchased a new stand. We spent another night assembling the tree in the new stand but left it undecorated for a few days. I simply didn’t have the heart. The tree was a monster, glaring at me from the corner. Taunting me and I just didn’t want to deal with it. 

Then on Sunday, we turned up the Christmas tunes and redecorated the tree. And all is well, Christmas spirit is restored. And it got me thinking and reflecting  (like this season is meant to do): the Christmas Tree is a lot like a marriage. 

These holiday traditions, the ups and downs, are what brings us together. We put up with each other’s quirks and work as a team to make something that will never be “perfect” as good as we can for us. Our marriage, like a live tree, will never be perfect. It is wild, untamed, in need of trimming, and pruning. In need of love and care and affection. Through the yeas we accumulate memories and traditions and adorn our marriage with them. Sometimes we fall and sometimes we break and sometimes we have a little trouble standing upright. Our hearts become shattered. But we overcome and we move forward. Through tears we pick ourselves up and keep pushing. Together.

Although the tree felt like an annoyance this year, we knew that it was in our best interest to set aside our hurt and make it into something special again. In that way, the Christmas tree is like our marriage, a symbol of something for the two of us to gather around and appreciate and respect. A ceremonious element of our lives to look forward to. To gaze at together and to bring us the warm feelings only the two of us comprehend.. It represents our imperfect love, that Christmas tree. And most importantly it brings us hope, much like marriage vows. 

And also, as this sentimental metaphor proves, full of a lot of SAP! 

But when else at Christmas time is it appropriate to be overly sentimental?

 

 

 

Giving Thanks

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The snow has started to fall, the pies are being prepped, and holiday tunes are playing. It’s officially my most favorite part of the year. 

This week it is obligatory for us to pause and say thanks. We put aside our stress, take big sighs and say thanks  while we help ourselves to seconds of pumpkin pie and think about Christmas shopping. It’s a nice tradition and I take pleasure in watching everyone’s faces soften a bit this week and bask in a little kindness.  And then riots happen. And mass confusion. And violence. And ugly consumerism. It’s so easy for our simple thank yous to get lost. For us to get lost. Buried under all of that weight. 

This time of year is my favorite. But like my stomach after stuffing and pie, it is also very full. So very full. Full of traditions, emotions, memories, hopes, loss, and joy. Remember that for everyone who is thankful for time with family there is someone without a family to create memories with. That for every person that is looking forward to old traditions there is someone who is experiencing a loss and no traditions this year. Not everything is merry and bright, this season holds darkness as well. 

So as this season of fullness begins I will pause to take it all in. I pause to remember all that I do have, not just the big things but all the small things as well.

Thank you for the big fluffy snowflakes that are falling outside. Thank you for a husband that knows when I need him to hold my hand. Thank you for that second cup of coffee in the AM. Thank you for friends that listen and make me laugh. Thank you for legs and lungs that let me run. Thank you for family that is always present. Thank you for puppy kisses and warm cuddles. Thank you for a safe neighborhood and long walks. Thank you for the man that listens to every silly thought and makes me feel like I belong. Thank you for forgiveness. Thank you for a job that fulfills me and a boss that is kind. Thank you for naps on clean, crisp sheets. Thank you for champagne and It’s A Wonderful Life on Thanksgiving night.

Thank you for allowing me to hope.

Thank you for the belief that most of the world is still good. 

 

 

Home Is Where The Heart Is?

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How much does where you call home define you?

It’s perfectly clear that where we were raised plays a large role in our character. I grew up in Lancaster, PA, a small town known for its Amish community, rolling farm lands, history, and conservative minds. I went to a small public school and graduated with 150 other sheltered youth. There’s no doubt that I would be a completely different person if I was raised in a large city or in the Midwest or if I went to a private all girls school or to a huge city school. That’s pretty obvious. 

But how about when you’re an adult? What happens when you’ve matured, changed from that sheltered and naive child, when you’ve traveled, moved around a bit? Does your home town still have that much weight in defining who you are?

Most conversations with new acquaintances start with a similar question, “Where are you from?”

It feels like they are trying to compartmentalize you, figure you out. Usually I just say, “Lancaster, PA” but others times I want to say, but I’ve also lived in Maryland and Chicago. Those homes are part of who I am too. I’m more than just a girl from Amish country. Maybe I feel like that because I sometimes feel out-of-place in my town.

As a teenager I’d often find myself in my bedroom, the door closed and emo music blasting, wishing to get out of this town. To be anywhere but here. Who didn’t feel that way at 16?

I never thought I’d move back to Lancaster as an adult. But circumstances changed and life made that decision for me. After ending a bad breakup in Chicago I had no job, no money, and nowhere to go but home. I took shelter in my childhood home and clung to my family and the familiar. I’m forever grateful for having a place to come home to and a family to take care of me.

As my bitterness resided I began to fall in love with my hometown in a way I never would have guessed. I was slowly turning back into the woman I thought I had lost but I was also turning into someone new at the same time. I liked the fresh air, even when it was full of manure. I liked the openness, the freedom to breathe. The downtown had gone through a renaissance since I had left 10 years prior and I enjoyed the new bars, restaurants, shops, and art galleries. There was a beauty in its simplicity. Cheap housing and no traffic didn’t hurt either.

I began to perceive it as something more than a town to escape. It was home. A place full of family history and memories and I clung to them dearly. 

But there’s still a part of me that feels like this town isn’t my home. And even if I do decide to stay here for the rest of my years that may be a feeling that never changes. Some days I’m content and others I am not. I am filled with wanderlust. We love taking day trips and weekend getaways. I often imagine what it would be like living somewhere else in the country or world. I consider comparing housing markets in different areas a hobby. 

Somedays Lancaster feels like home and other times it feels like a trap. 

I didn’t choose to come back and live here. But how often do we, as adults, get to choose our home town? Family obligations jobs spouses income all have a say in where we live. But does the location really matter? Isn’t home where the heart is?

My heart belongs to Ryan and it belongs to my family. I have too many ties to family and too little risk taking in my blood to be the type to drop everything and move cross-country or abroad on a whim. I’m too sentimental and too much of a planner to live a life going where the wind takes me. But even if part of my heart is here there is a little part of my heart that beats and yearns for some new experiences and for a home that feels like it completes me. 

There is too much out there to see and so many other women that I could grow into being.

If you could choose to live anywhere, where would you live? Forget about where your friends are. Forget about where you family lives. Forget about where you could get a job in your field.

They say live the life you imagined. They say home is where the heart is. What do you say? 

Is that even a question that warrants to be asked? Is it a silly romantic daydream? Is the yearning for more adventure simply part of the human experience?

What do you think? Does your current home town affect your personality? Does it play a big role in who you are? If you could live anywhere where would you live?