Getting in the Christmas Spirit

With Christmas right around the corner, it seems like everywhere we turn, there are trees up and holiday tunes playing. I love Christmas and the holiday season. I love to get totally into the spirit of the season. Here are some ways I get ready for the holidays!

Decorating

This is my favorite part of the holidays. I love decorating my home. Even though we just moved two weeks ago, I have still managed to do a fair amount of decorating. Usually I go more all out, but at least we got a real tree, and I filled up our shelves with decor.

Huge icicles!

Connor gets a little holiday cheer in his room!


 

Shopping

Of course, a huge part of Christmas is the shopping. I have a lot of my list done but still have a few more people to buy for. I love Christmas shopping, and try to do at least some of it at the stores because it always feels so exciting and cheerful in the stores at this time of year. Of course, a big part of my shopping is done online. I usually end up buying myself a gift or two because I come across things I can’t pass up! This year I’m eyeing these comfy but nice looking pants for my upcoming trip to Europe this spring. Betabrand has tons of comfy but nice looking pants and they fit so well with my current lifestyle of being casual but still wanting to look put together. 

Hot Chocolate

For some reason, hot chocolate is one of my favorite things about Christmastime and winter in general. Last year when I was pregnant,  I got hot chocolate almost everyday towards the end! I have been making it at home this year a lot to try to save a little money. I love hot chocolate as a sweet treat at the end of the day, and it helps me get some calcium from the milk. Totally healthy 😉 I have the tree turned on, and love cozying up with a nice warm mug of hot chocolate and a warm blanket.

 

How do you get into the holiday spirit?

Recent Happenings

I don’t have a formal post but thought I’d check in! We moved last weekend so it’s been all consuming. We went from 1400 square feet to 2400 square feet so we have much more space and need to fill a few empty rooms. Unpacking with a 10 month old is challenging but I’ve been keeping him entertained with random boxes and Tupperware, and doing most of the unpacking during his naps. 

We renovated our new house so I plan on doing a full post of before and after pics and survival tips for anyone doing a renovation. 

We are currently just unpacking and putting together our new furniture. It’s fun but also I just want it all done! 

Setting up furniture requires wine! Haha


Ive been enjoying homemade cookies a little too much lately. They are just so delicious straight out of the oven. 

My brother’s best friend got married and I got to be my mom’s plus one. It was so fun and I just love weddings! The whole night was just beautiful! 


Jim made a yummy dinner of pasta with meatballs and we had a delicious bottle of wine from Kamen wines in Sonoma. It was a nice way to end the weekend. I got to take home a centerpiece from the wedding and I’m obsessed with it! I aspire to be able to create flower arrangements like this! 

Finally, we got our first real tree this year. It was really fun to pick it out and it smells amazing! 


I hope you had a great weekend! 

Thankful

I am thankful for so many things! This year has been such a whirlwind and I am so happy with the place I am in life right now.

Here are a few things I am thankful for. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

 

Family

I am pretty sure I have the best family ever! I am super close with my family, and feel so lucky that I get to see many of them all of the time. Both my family and Jim’s family are so supportive and awesome. My mom is my best friend, and I feel so lucky that I can say that. We have been living with her for the past four months while we wait for our new house to be renovated, and it has been so fun seeing my mom everyday.

 

Jim

Although Jim is my family, he gets his own category. :) I feel like we have successfully navigated so many life changes this year-having a baby, selling a house, buying a new house, selling a car, buying new car, and moving. We are always on the same page with major life decisions, and the whole renovation process, while stressful, wasn’t stressful for us a couple, which I feel really happy about. We managed to almost get through our first year of parenthood together, and I think we make a pretty good team. I am also beyond thankful that Jim has an awesome job that allows me to stay at home with our baby. It is so rare nowadays to be able to stay home, and I cherish every minute of it.


Connor

I try to keep Connor private on the blog, but I can’t help but write about him today, as I am beyond thankful for him. He is the light of my life, and I love him beyond what I ever thought imaginable. I truly never knew that I could love someone so much. He is such a happy baby, and our days are so fun together. I am so grateful that he is healthy and happy and that I have him as my son.
Health

On that note, I am so thankful that my family is all healthy, and that my body successfully produced another human! Having a baby and a hard delivery was no walk in the park, but I am fine now!


Ok now on to the less mushy stuff!

Coffee

While Connor is a great baby, he is a pretty horrible sleeper! He still wakes up a ton, and I am planning on doing some type of sleep training soon. In the meantime, coffee is my savior. I literally look forward everyday to the time in the morning when I can start drinking coffee!


Dessert

I have always been a sweets lover, but once I got pregnant that intensified. I thought after I had a baby I would stop eating a dessert everyday, but that is not the case. I still eat dessert everyday and have no plans to stop. Eating a small sweet treat does not mean that I have gained weight or feel out of control in any way. I watch my portions and believe in moderation!

 

Suburb Life

I lived in the city for 15 years and just moved to the suburbs this past summer. Our town is particularly special in that it has a cute downtown that we can walk to, so I still get the city feel of being able to walk to the grocery store, to restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. But now I don’t have the congestion, traffic and noise. Our town is also surrounded by beautiful woods and farms, and I am loving the quiet life of living in a small town. And the best part is we can hop on the train or in the car and be in the city within an hour.

 

 

Winter Happiness

I usually make big resolutions at New Years and then forget about them. I thought it would be a good idea to check in with myself about how my goals are going. Winter and early spring are the perfect time to slow down and reflect a little. The hubbub of the holidays is long gone. Quiet nights in, home cooked meals, and not much else going on creates a peaceful time to relax. 

I had talked in my New Years post about how I want to not take things so personally and let other people’s opinions bother me. It is absolutely impossible to please everyone in my life, and that’s just something I have to come to terms with, unless we completely give up all of our personal lives to making plans with people constantly every weekend. That’s not feasible or healthy for my little family and myself.  I have been working hard on doing what is the best for Jim, baby and me as our number one priority. If people are mad or offended then so be it! I am trying to not let it bother me.  This isn’t something that will change overnight, and it may never change.  I am trying to be stronger and stand up for myself, and do the things that work for me and my family.

My other goal was to not let work get to me.  Of course, now that I’m on leave this is an easy goal. But once I go back, it will be very important to work on this, since I will be balancing everything. To an outsider, teaching first grade seems like a piece of cake.  You get to go hang out with 6 and 7 year olds and just play all day, right?! However, as fun as it is to be around kids all day, it is also an incredibly challenging job.  The being with the kids part is why I am a teacher.  I love spending my days with these little sponges who are ready to learn and work hard all day.  The amount they learn in one year is astounding, and so rewarding.  There are other parts of the job that aren’t so fun.  Demanding parents, difficult administration, and much more, lead to teacher burnout and frustration.  My one biggest change that has helped me a lot on a daily basis was deleting my work email from my phone.  I used to check it at all hours of the day, and get really stressed out.  Now I only check it when I am physically at work, and it has done wonders for my evenings at home with Jim.  I’m not distracted and worked up and responding in the heat of the moment.  I am more present and calm.  I deal with work at work.  And when I’m home, I’m home.  Of course, I still have work to do at home like grading papers and planning, but the emails were always the stressful part.  I highly suggest this to anyone who struggles with work-life balance.  It was hard the first few days.  I kept automatically checking my phone, and was itching to just put it back on my phone and see what was coming in.  I resisted, though, and within the first few nights, I realized how nice it was to just put it all away for the evening.  There is nothing that earth shattering that needed to be attended to that instant.  It is always all there waiting for the morning.

My third goal was to go to church more.  So far that goal has gone well.  My mom and I signed up to be parishioners at a wonderful church, and I signed Jim and I up for baptismal classes for our baby.  I have also been trying to make it a habit to pray/meditate or whatever people prefer to call it each day.  Usually this comes in the form of savasana at the end of yoga.  I use my savasana time to check in with myself.  I am not an expert at meditation, and when I don’t focus on something during savasana, I start my running to-do list in my mind of what I need to do that day.  Giving myself a goal of what to think about during savasana has helped me a lot.

I challenge you to think about what is making you happy, and what isn’t.  What can you change to bring upon happiness?  It might be a small thing, like doing a little yoga each day, or a larger thing, like re-evaluating your work-life balance. Whatever it is, this is a perfect time of year to slow down and reflect and think. You never know what might happen if you do!

   

Christmas

I had a great Christmas! We spent Christmas Eve with Jim’s family and Christmas with mine. We are so lucky that everyone lives in the same area. It makes the holidays easy! Here are some pictures from the last few days. I hope you had a great holiday if you celebrate! 

Photo booth at my cousin’s Christmas party  
Relaxing on my first day of break!

  We are going to watch all the Star Wars movies since I’ve never seen them and it seems like a good winter activity. We watched one so far and had popcorn and candy. The snacks are what makes the movie watching fun!   
  All the presents wrapped and ready to be delivered!   
Christmas Eve- Chinese food potluck   
Everyone in red, and one screaming :)

 
Cousins

  
My mom’s cute little tree filled with presents underneath 

  Christmas breakfast- plus cinnamon buns  
Cousins ❤️   
Christmas dessert table

 
Cousins plus significant others- Our group is getting bigger!

  Merry Christmas!  
 

Christmas Decorating

I love the holidays and I love decorating. This year I didn’t do anything too new or creative but I’m still happy with the way everything turned out!  Here are a few pics of our holiday decor this year! 
Christmas tree! I also somehow managed to wrap way in advance this year. 

  Mantle- I bought this lighted garland this year and love the extra sparkle the lights give off.  
Apothecary jars filled with ornaments.

  Some decor on the book shelf- a nutcracker, snow globes, and a Nativity scene.   
Little trees above the kitchen cabinets. 


 My grandma’s Lenox figurines.  
A mini tree by the front door- I went with a silver theme this year! 

 

That’s pretty much it! Nothing too fancy but it does the trick! 
Do you have a favorite holiday decoration or tradition?

Thanksgiving Weekend

I had a wonderful 5 day weekend and feel like I haven’t been at work in weeks! I didnt take many pictures this weekend, and decided to just enjoy the family time instead.  

 
Our weekend started on Wednesday. We noticed the refrigerator didn’t feel very warm and it turns out it was 57 degrees. We called a repair man and it would have cost $300 to fix it. Our fridge is 16 years old so we decided to bite the bullet and buy a new one. We spent a long long time in Home Depot deciding. I’m excited to have a new one on Tuesday! 

Thanksgiving was a fun and busy day! We hosted Jim’s family and then went to my aunt’s house after that. We were able to get our old fridge to come back to life so thankfully were still able to cook. It was really fun hanging out with our new niece!  

   
Friday morning I met my mom bright and early for some Black Friday shopping! We have been doing it for a long time, and we just go to Carson’s. It is always fun to kick off the Christmas shopping season! 

Then we went to New Buffalo for the weekend with my mom and brother! We rented a really cute house, and did lots of eating and relaxing. It was just what I needed. I found our house on Home away  and we were really happy with it! I loved the beach house theme and the rustic touches. 

Kitchen and eating area 

    
Jim’s pride and joy- Bourbon County Stout… Only one of the many he got!

  Kitchen 

Living area  
 
Living area 

  
Second bedroom

  Master bedroom  
    
   
Sunday afternoon we decorated for Chrismas! I am so excited that the holiday season is here!  

 

Maintaining A Healthy Lifestyle Over the Holidays 

The holiday season is upon us! I absolutely love the stretch from October to January because of all of the festivities, family, friends, and fun! It is easy to just let loose and forget about health, especially from Thanksgiving to New Years. It’s not worth it though! Trust me… I’ve done it.
Two years ago, I threw all caution to the wind and just ate and drank with abandon. I continued to work out, but no amount of exercise can offset mass quantities of desserts, wine, and delicious appetizers. I found myself at my highest weight ever that January, and going wedding dress shopping! I made some changes and lost a lot of weight, but it was hard work! I learned that no matter how fun it is to eat and drink whatever you want for 2 months, it’s not worth it!

   
 Here are some things that work for me to maintain my weight and health goals, and not feel deprived.

Nothing is Off Limits

The minute I tell myself I can’t have something, I immediately want it.  I used to tell myself I couldn’t have specific foods or desserts, and then I would feel deprived, and crabby.  Now I know that I can eat everything I want, but in..

Moderation

This is the biggest key to not going overboard and gaining weight at the holidays.  I know that I can eat whatever I want at a specific party, so I choose what looks the very best and take a small portion of everything that I want.  I fill up one plate of food, and one small plate of desserts, and that’s it.  I try to not get seconds of things unless I truly am hungry.

Slow Down and Stop Before I Feel Full

I hate feeling overly stuffed after a decadent meal.  It makes me feel bloated and gross.  I check in with myself as I am eating and make sure to eat slowly.  I also make a conscious effort to put down my fork and enjoy the conversation.  As soon as I feel satisfied, I stop.

 

This is Not My Last Meal Ever. 

I like to remind myself that these delicious mashed potatoes, or chocolate chip cookies, or this glass of red wine will indeed be consumed again by me in the future.  This isn’t the last time I will have this food, and probably very soon again during the holiday season, I will eat something similar.  This also goes along with the “nothing is off limits” mentality.  If I think that tomorrow I will start being super healthy and this is my last day of eating badly, then I go overboard.  If I think that I will have more treats in the very near future, it helps me to eat moderately.

 

Eat Healthy During the Week

Of course over the holidays there are plenty of parties and get togethers, but there are lots of regular days thrown in there too.  I make sure I eat super healthy during the week, especially at work, when I can control what I am packing for my lunch.  I resist the treats at work, and only eat what I packed for myself.

 

Drink Water! 

In between alcoholic drinks at a party, I always make sure to have a glass of water.  This helps me to stay hydrated, and also helps me to drink less in general.  It takes a while to drink a glass of water!

 

Eat Veggies With Every Meal

I always try to make sure I have some veggies with every meal, whether it is at a party, at a restaurant, or at home.  This keeps at least part of the plate healthy.

 

Stay Active

I still maintain my activity level during the holidays.  It is tempting to think that I will just worry about it in January, but it’s not worth it.  Even a small amount of exercise each day goes a long way.  If I am off of work, I will mix it up and go to a yoga class with a friend, or go for a run on a new route.  I also keep the mentality that “Something is better than nothing”.  I used to think that if my workout wasn’t torching hundreds of calories and at least 45 minutes long, it wasn’t worth it.  Now I realize that even a quickie workout is good for the body!

  
  
Happy Holidays!!