Tag Archives: blog challenge

six geese a-laying

Topic: Gifts galore

Yeah, it really is gifts galore around these parts. I think we went a bit overboard this year, but Monkey is still young so there is time to correct that without him knowing it. It’s so hard to keep it in check when you have the money and desire to go nuts. I remember gifts spilling out all over the room when I was a kid and how completely magical it was. I’d like that for Monkey, but maybe without quite so much stuff. It’s also hard when his birthday is 4 days before Christmas. It’s a giftapalooza over here, y’all.

One thing my parents did that I don’t want to do is give so much from Santa. I remember most of my gifts were from Santa and I had maybe two small things from my parents. I want Monkey to know that we pay attention to his requests and for him to be grateful rather than simply take it for granted because “Santa brought it.” Not to mention I want the credit for the big gift! I’m thinking two or so gifts from Santa and the rest from Mommy and Mama. Those of you who are doing Santa, how are you planning to handle this? I like the Santa thing and had a ton of fun with it as a child, so I don’t want to minimize that. Surely there’s a balance.

All that said, I’m sick to death of most of Monkey’s toys and am looking forward to new stuff to play with!


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four calling birds, five golden rings

Yeah, yeah, I’m playing catch up πŸ™‚

Topic: Holiday cards

I’ve always sent Christmas cards, but it is SO much more fun to do now that there is an adorable little guy to feature on them πŸ™‚ We did a family shoot in November at the Getty Museum and they turned out great. I’ll try to do a password-protected picture post today or tomorrow and show you.

Christmas/holiday cards we receive get placed on the fridge if they are photo cards and on the bar if not. I’m thinking about doing something like this or this with photo cards from now on. I like the idea and I never know what to do with them when the holiday is done. It would be fun to store with our Christmas stuff and pull out each year at the holidays.

Also, how cool is it to get fun stuff via the regular mail?

Topic: Decor and baubles

I mentioned before that we do a woodland animals themed tree, but I didn’t mention our crazy adorable tree skirt, which looks like it belongs in a cabin somewhere. It is kind of a patchwork of plaid and corduroy fabrics and has a deer, a bear, and a couple of other woodland animals, as well as some pinecones and other such cuteness. It was expensive, but so perfect for our theme. I’m glad we got it. My MiL also got me a realistic looking black bear cub that I wanted a few years back. Our plan is to photograph the baby with it each year to see how he’s grown. He is already as tall as the bear this year! INSANE! He frequently hugs the bear πŸ™‚

Other holiday decor includes a big collection of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer toys that DW displays in a scene or two (this is a small portion of the scene from the last time we put it up in 12/08):

We also have a wooden Advent box, an old-fashioned Santa with numbered blocks to count down the days until Christmas, and other small items. We don’t have all of this out this year, but we know Monkey will love it all when the time comes. Here is baby’s stocking, which we got this year:

In short, we love the holidays!

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three french hens

Topic: Travel Tales

We are usually homebodies for the holidays, but sometimes we venture out. Christmas 2008, DW, MiL and I went to my parents house in Charleston, South Carolina (they have since relocated – bummer as I love Charleston). It was the first Christmas after FiL died, so we thought it would be good to do something different, change of scenery type of thing. We had a great time! We did lots of touristy stuff, ate a bunch of delicious meals out, and enjoyed visiting with my parents and my brother and his family. I know it was still difficult for DW and MiL (and for me as well on a lesser scale), but I think it helped to be somewhere new and keeping busy.

Middleton Place Plantation, Charleston, SC

Charleston, SC

For the last few years, my company has closed the office for the week between Christmas and New Years so we sometimes do a 2 night trip up the coast a bit to Cambria, which I’ve mentioned before on my blog. It has been a favorite spot of ours for many years – we tour Hearst Castle, hang out on the beach, shop in the cute little town, and build a fire in our room. We are thinking about doing it this year, too. Better get on that!

Me in Cambria

I could definitely see us traveling over Christmas when Monkey is a bit older, but for now, I like having a cozy family Christmas at home. This year we aren’t even traveling to Grandma’s (she lives 45 minutes north of us). Instead, she is spending the night on Christmas Eve and will be at our house for Christmas day. Yay!


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two turtle doves

Topic: Loved Ones

Now that Monkey is here, I find that I really miss being near my family at the holidays. Other times too, but it is more keenly felt this time of year. We have MiL nearby, but if we lived near my family, we’d have my parents, my brother/SiL/his two kids, and my aunts/uncles/cousins/second cousins. My dad comes from a big family (seven kids!), and I remember how much fun it was when we’d all get together for a holiday. My cousins and I always had so much fun. I find myself wanting that for Monkey, too.

My cousins and me, drawn by my youngest aunt in 1980 ❀


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12 day challenge

I know I said my next post would be all about Monkey, but first, I’d like to participate in An Offering of Love’s 12 day holiday challenge! Expect a post later in the day with my Monkey status πŸ™‚

A Partridge in a Pear TreeΒ (12/14):Β 
Topic: Trees (Christmas/Solstice)

We love Christmas and always have, even pre-Monkey (kind of funny for a couple of atheists). We used to get a live tree every year and DW’s dad would come and help us get it in the stand and all that jazz. Then DW’s parents got an artificial tree and we felt bad asking for help with our live tree since they switched to ditch the hassle of dealing with a live tree. So we got an artificial tree many years back. In some ways, it’s better – we can put it up early and not worry about keeping it alive through Christmas. Gone are the days of the leaning live tree. I do miss going to the tree lot and picking one out, as well as that lovely pine scent. Last year, I bought a wreath from a local lot and think I’ll continue that tradition.

Our first artificial tree was a cheapie and had all white lights. We didn’t have the money back then to justify a lush large tree with colored lights, which is our preference. A few years ago, we invested in a gorgeous 8 ft. tree (featured in this old post, with bonus preggo me) with colored lights and it makes us very happy to finally have it just the way we want. We are ornament lovers (our tree is ridiculously loaded with them) and tend to buy them while on vacation. That started out as a happy accident, but we found that it was such fun to remember past travels as we decorated the tree each year that we began actively searching out ornaments in the locales we visited. We have ornaments from London, Boston, New York, South Carolina, Florida, and various cities up and down the California coast. Some of the ornaments have funny stories that accompany them, others just great memories.

We kind of do a themed tree – woodland animals. These are the ornaments we always found ourselves drawn to, so we went with it. We have tons of birds, deer, bears, bunnies, moose, squirrels, etc. Mixed in are lots of snowmen, Santas, and sweet wooden ornaments with a vintage feel. A few anomolies find their way to the tree just because we love them (the Fu Manchu man glass ornament, a few monkeys). We used to put up a smaller tree in our bedroom that was going to be all snowmen, but we are out of room for that at the moment. One day…

This year (and last) we only put unbreakable ornaments on the tree since Monkey loves to touch the tree and anything on its branches. We fill the lower half with plush ornaments that he is welcome to remove and replace, which he does often. The upper half has unbreakables that we aren’t so keen on letting him have his way with. And all of our glass ornaments are safely packed away. It will be such fun to rediscover them when the time is right!

I know I used this pic before (and it’s my current header pic), but I love it so much i want to share it again. We put the tree up in late-November one night after Monkey had gone to bed. This is him discovering it the next morning ❀


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parenthood and relationships

This entry is part of the Love Makes a Family Blog Carnival. The topic is “Relationships and the strain parenting puts on them.”

I think most of us (me included) tend to blog primarily about the fun, uplifting, joyous side of parenthood rather than the often difficult, demanding, draining side. I know sometimes I feel like after the long and arduous journey to get pregnant and finally have my little Monkey, I have no right to talk about the difficulties that accompany having a baby. We forget that others are having the same struggles and by acknowledging the issues, we might help each other feel less alone in our troubles.

Now onto the relationship strain. DW and I have been together for almost 16 years. We have fought more in the last 20 months (really more in the first year of Monkey’s life) than we ever did in all the years previous combined. Fortunately, most of these arguments were the result of sleep deprivation (small infractions that blew up out of proportion because we were so tired and grumpy). One fight that sticks out in my mind was over sleep training. We did not want to do it. Period. But after many (MANY) sleepless nights followed by days with cranky Mama, Mommy, and Monkey, Mommy just broke down crying and said she couldn’t do it anymore. This was a shocker for me (Mama) as DW is so not a crier. I knew it was serious. So we compromised and did the Sleep Lady. Tangent: It didn’t last and we ended up re-committing ourselves to no more sleep training and began co-sleeping full-time (with limited success).

We very rarely go out just the two of us (we’ve done this maybe 4 times since Monkey was born). There is very little physical intimacy due to weariness and co-sleeping. We have no family support (my parents live on the other side of the country and DW’s mom is no help due to constant health issues). We fight often about MiL issues. Sometimes we disagree on what Monkey is able to do at his age and with his temperament (traveling, flying, going to certain events, etc.).

But what we do have? A ridiculous amount of love for each other and Monkey. Even though DW is a SAHM and spends all day every day with Monkey, she often tells me she misses him when he’s sleeping or out with me somewhere. Honestly, I think that even if we did have major relationship issues that would lead to divorce, neither of us would do it because neither of us would want to be away from Monkey for any length of time. It helps that I still find DW to be the most interesting, challenging, funny, smart, and just all-around coolest person I’ve ever met. Still cute as hell, too πŸ™‚ Add in the fact that she simply astounds me as a mom and I’m done for. She’s simply the best ❀

While this post is specifically about how having a child affects your relationship with your SO, I feel like I personally could have a more detailed post on the strain it put on me as an individual. I have been shocked at some of the things I’ve thought and felt since having a baby and struggling with some PPD. Another topic for another post, perhaps.

Check out the next post in the Love Makes a Family Blog Carnival here.


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june non-challenge: memories & activities

Day 22 – What is your most beloved childhood memory? What memories are you trying to create (or will you try to create) for your child(ren)?

It’s hard for me to zero in on a single one. I had a pretty happy fun childhood. Some standouts include Christmas (of course!), camping trips in the North Carolina mountains with extended family and friends, getting together with my cousins for some mayhem (Thanksgiving comes to mind), Disneyworld trips. That’s a lot, huh? We didn’t have very many family traditions (at least not compared to DW’s family), but we did have a lot of fun!

I want holidays to be super special for him, with lots of traditions (mostly from DW). I can’t wait for trips to Disneyland, Hearst Castle, Europe, etc., etc. I want him to have a taste for travel and adventure.

Day 23 – What are your favorite activities to do with your kid(s)?

Gymboree free play (the classes, not so much), swimming, and reading. We are going to Legoland with friends in a few weeks! Can’t wait!


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june non-challenge: names

Day 21. What child(ren)’s names do you like that your partner hates and thus you could never use?

Oh, this is a fun one!


  • Clara: I love this name! So cute and classic. DW does not like. Boo!
  • Tegan: In fairness, we both love this name but we know every lesbian we meet would be like, “How lame. They named their kid after Tegan from Tegan & Sara.” That is where I first heard the name, but I wouldn’t be naming my kid after her. Doesn’t really matter anyway as this name is on the rise in popularity.
  • Hero: This one was a favorite of DW. I was like nuh and uh. I don’t care if it’s from Shakespeare, this kid would be teased mercilessly.



  • Clark: Swoon. I love it. DW does not.

I wish I could remember more. I’ll have to ask DW because I know there were many that we did not agree on. We have names picked out right now for a second (a boy’s name and a girl’s name). Now to see if there’ll be a second baby to name…


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