Christmas Tidbits

Michael and I had a really lovely Christmas.  I’m so thankful that my mother-in-law was able to travel down here from Arkansas to spend time with us.  It was a really special visit.

Here are some things we did.

On Christmas Eve, we took a picture in front of the tree in the church foyer.

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Then, Christmas morning, I woke up early to stuff the stockings and arrange everything.

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Once everyone woke up, we had a breakfast with eggs, sausage and cinnamon rolls.

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Then, we opened presents.  I didn’t get pictures of the humans opening presents, but I did get the dogs opening their treats from their stockings (which were a bit blurry because, you know, dogs).  I loved Teddy’s Naughty cookie.  It was pretty spot on for him.

While I was making dinner, I set out these penguin appetizers.  I found a picture on Pinterest and thought they would be perfect.

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Then, it was feast time.  Prime Rib roast with potatoes and carrots, sprouts, and rolls.  It turned out really well.

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And finally, we ended the night playing a few board games, including Splendor (pictured) and Machi Koro.  20171225_191047

It was a wonderful visit with very little stress (even the meal prep and cooking went smoothly).  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas day with their friends and family.

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Date Night at the Ballet

Last Saturday, Michael and I went to the Eisemann Center to see the Nutcracker.  I’ve always wanted to see the ballet during Christmas.  This one was performed by the local Royale Ballet Dance Company.

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The center was decked out with holiday decorations.

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And the Nutcracker was so good.  It was the first time Michael and I had seen it on stage.

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I couldn’t take any pictures, however, I did take one of the stage before the performance. Even though we had seats at the top, the view was perfect.  I don’t think there was a bad seat anywhere in this theater!

My favorite part was the Grand Pas de Deux in Act 2.  The girl who played Clara was so precise and graceful.  I loved when the prince lifted her into the air.  It would give me goosebumps.

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Afterward, we went to the Cheesecake Factory for some dessert.  We split the Chris’ Outrageous Cheesecake which was so good, but rich.  I don’t think we actually finished it, but it was the perfect end to a wonderful date.

We hope to make this a tradition every year.  Maybe not always the Nutcracker, but to go see a Christmas show during the holiday season, maybe even ending it with dessert.

Do you have any holiday traditions?  Or special date nights this time of year?

What The Holidays Are Like

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The Christmas season (which starts with Thanksgiving in my opinion) is probably my favorite time of the year.  There are bright colors, happy songs, and presents.  And my love language is Gifts, so any holiday season that includes giving and receiving of gifts is top notch.

But this is also a time of year that is hard for a lot of people.  Maybe it’s someone who has passed away this year.  Maybe it’s a job that was lost or financial struggles.  Maybe it was a relationship that was broken.

I’ve been reflecting on how this Thanksgiving has been for me and I wanted to share with you a little window into what I’ve learned about grief this year.

I learned that grief manifests in different ways.  In the moment, I didn’t even identify it as grief, but it was.  Everything was heightened.  There were moments I felt depressed and anxious.  I felt guilty when I wanted to be alone when I felt overwhelmed or when I wasn’t very social.  I got to see a lot of my family that I don’t get to see very much, but a lot of the time, I didn’t know what to say or how to start a conversation.  I’m so thankful for my family who has been praying and is so understanding.  Despite myself, we had such great visits with everyone.

My feelings were raw and exposed. There were moments of anger.  In fact, Michael and I had a very lively disagreement (ok, a fight) towards the end of the week that we worked through with grace and a whole lot of listening to each other (of course, this was days after the fight happened, but it was a process).  We definitely grew as people and closer to each other.  It was uncomfortable and hard, but I’m very blessed to have a man who is willing to work through the hard and uncomfortable.

I also learned that grief triggers in different ways.  I learned that young infants crying are a serious trigger for me during these heightened days of grief.  Somewhere along the line, Michael learned that too.  One day this month, we were somewhere and a baby started crying.  Michael was across the room, but he stopped what he was doing and looked at me (we were doing different things at the time).  I nodded to him, and we left shortly after.  Someday, I hope that this won’t be as triggering as I really do love babies, but for now, it is.  So we are just aware of our limitations.

Last year, we were just grieving the first anniversary of my first daughter’s stillbirth, and the days leading up to it were harder than the actual day, itself.  This year, the anniversaries were harder.  Wednesday morning, the day before Thanksgiving was my second daughter’s due date.  When I woke up that morning, that was the first thought that entered my head.  I felt it.  I cried in the shower that morning.  That Saturday was the second stillbirth day of my first daughter.  I cried that day, too, which surprised me.  I wasn’t as ready for that as I thought I would be.

I learned that it’s okay to have conflicting feelings at the same time, which I talked about in the video I posted the Friday after Thanksgiving.

I had moments of happiness as we built memories together just as much as I was sad that my daughters weren’t there physically with me in those memories.

The biggest lesson I took away from this experience is that I’m not alone.  I have amazing people willing to walk through the hard stuff with me and extend grace and space when I need it.  Even when I fear the wind and the waves, God is still right there with me.  I can be in my grief and still say I am blessed.

A Day At the Arboretum

Last Saturday, Michael and I went to the Dallas Arboretum Botanical Garden. I have been looking forward to seeing their fall exhibits and the holiday exhibits were up too.

We took our camera and snapped a few pictures.  The entire place is just so beautiful and romantic.  In fact, there was a wedding and a few bridal shoots happening while we were there.  Of course, I didn’t snap any pictures of their private moments, but we may have stood and listened to the preacher speak about love and the importance of community as he blessed the new couple’s marriage.

In addition to taking pictures, I did make a small video which went up on my YouTube channel yesterday

This was the first time I have seen their 12 days of Christmas exhibit.  Each day is represented.  It was a lot of fun walking around the gardens trying to find all twelve.

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My favorite features are the creeks and ponds that run through the gardens.  I love the calm sounds of the running water.  There were a group of ducks on one of the ponds.  And I love the infinity pool that empties into White Rock lake.

It was a gorgeous day.  The temperature had cooled quite a bit here in Texas, but the sun was still shining. Even though we spent hours walking around, there are still so many things we haven’t done yet (I really want to try the tea room and see the exhibits in the spring). We had a wonderful time, and we hope to go back again soon!

Best Holiday Dog Infographics

Christmas is almost here!  Like the day after tomorrow!  The season is real, ya’ll.

I’ve been really getting back into Pinterest, especially when I found whole boards dedicated to adorable puppy pictures.  I might have a problem.  However, there are also some really helpful infographics on Pinterest that I thought I would share in honor of the holiday season.

The first one is from the Animal Friends in the UK which sells pet insurance.

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Not a lot of people think about the dangers of ornaments around the dogs, but this infographic mentions several types of Christmas decor that can be really harmful to your pet if ingested.  I especially love the ideas to make a dog more at ease when you are hosting.  Dogs stress easily to major changes in their routine, especially the older they get.

The next infographic is from a company called Kurgo which specializes in safe pet travel, so the infographic makes sense.

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This is so important.  When we travel with our dogs, we use their crates for long car rides.  This isn’t because they are distracting, but so that they will have more protection if we were to get into an accident.  Please consider using a travel crate if you are going to take your dog on a long trip!

And finally, this one isn’t holiday specific, but it’s good info to have on hand when our pups start begging at the table.  It’s from Here Pup, and if you follow the link, they have more info on some of these foods.

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Of course, it’s always better to keep some handy dog treats or food puzzles available for when the family sits down at the table.  Dogs need manners just like the rest of us!  (Although I completely understand not being able to resist those puppy eyes!)

Do you have any tips or tricks for the holidays and our four legged friends?

Do you have a Pinterest?  Do you love infographics too?

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Since I shared some of my Thanksgiving decorations, I thought I would share some of my Christmas decorations with you too.  I’m just going to share my mantle, which holds some of my favorite decorations, both old and new.

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My oldest decorations on the mantle are the Coca-Cola bottles that I collected between college and when I got married.  My dad’s side of the family lives in Atlanta, the home of Coca-Cola, so it’s a reminder of my roots.  Plus, the company makes adorable bottles for Christmas.

The puppet is our fifth anniversary gift (which is wood) from Italy.  I bought it while we were in Rome.  It’s usually on the mantle all year, but it’s red and green, so I thought it could stay up for Christmas.

The candle, I made this year with my mom at Thanksgiving.  It is made from sheet music from an old, falling apart music book that used to belong to my great grandmother.  I’m so glad we could re-purpose the music sheets in such a beautiful way.

The countdown is the newest decoration to my collection.  We got it on sale at Michael’s this year.  I’ve always wanted a countdown of some kind for Christmas, so I was pretty excited when we found a cute one for such a good deal.

The stockings that are hung by the ‘chimney’ with care (okay, by the gas log fireplace with a small flue) are from Hobby Lobby.  I am a huge fan of plaid, especially at Christmas.  And I love the matching dog stockings as well!

How do you decorate for Christmas?  Do you put out the same decorations every year, or does it depend on travel, hosting, or busyness in general?

Do you have any special decorations?