Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A look back at 2013

I'm not quite sure how this was one year ago. 

Yay - my most favorite post of the year is here!

I love going back and re-reading posts, laughing at moments I had forgotten about, nodding my head in agreement as I remember specific feelings at certain markers on the 2013 timeline.

After all, that is the purpose of blogging.

However, sifting through so many memories can be daunting.
Because I'm not much of a scanner.
I like to savor, truly bask in and appreciate whatever it is I'm doing.

This is why I drink coffee from a French Press or prefer reading an actual book over the Kindle.

But when it comes to writing a year-in-review for a year like 2013, it could easily take two weeks.
Instead I have one nap time.

So this is my best shot at re-capping a few of 2013's best moments.

... After months of *lots* of crying and sleepless nights, we finally figured out Lyla's tummy issues last January. Being the new parents that we were, I only regret not taking her to the chiropractor sooner. But the issue was resolved, and we haven't had one problem since.

... Hands down, my most favorite memory of last year was The Blizzard of Oz. That period of my life was a very dark one, as I was desperately grasping at straws trying to find work-life balance with a new baby. So when we had four SNOW DAYS in a row, I did more than a happy dance. I mean the timing was impeccable. The adrenaline rush of waking up every morning to check the news was exhilarating, and the extra time cooped up in the house with my baby was a very unexpected, and very much-needed gift.

... Some of our most favorite people came into town, and of course none of those visitors were there to see Gabe and Me. ;) Last spring, our best friends from Rhode Island came in to meet Ly for the first time. This spring, we will be returning the favor with a visit as they will be welcoming Lyla's first "cousin", a sweet baby girl.

... I somehow survived this. Looking back, I truly don't know how I was able to manage all that I did. But I am so thankful for the challenges {most of which I brought on myself} I faced last year as I don't think I would be as grateful for my family as I am today. I am a different *stronger* woman than I was one year ago.

... We celebrated many significant life events. Including but not limited to weddings, showers, first birthdays, returning of friends to our hometown, and new life. What a year of joy!

... We had an unforgettable summer - last day of school for mom {which unbeknownst to me at the time would be my last last day of school ever}, endless baby playdatesswimming lessons, ice cream stops, trips to the zoo, picnics, and plenty of dining al fresco.

**The pic above is one of my all-time favorites. Lyla's with her bestie visiting a new {at the time} not-yet-been-opened ice cream shop in town. We marked how many scoops tall they were, but now, it's difficult to find their measurements as the wall is completely covered with names. But, they're there. And Ly and B were the very first babes!

... We went on our first family vacation of three, which also included Lyla's first trip on an airplane. Although she slept for a grand total of 20 minutes of the 11 hour trip, including a middle-of-the-night wakeup call, a one hour car ride and two layovers, she was an angel. But it was so worth it to be able to introduce her to our second home and family...and the beach.

... I made a split-second decision to quit my job. Since then, I've been asked on multiple occasions if I regret that decision. And quite honestly, I haven't looked back for even a moment.

... Our favorite little toddles-mcgoo turned ONE! And we had one classy celebration for our special, classy lady.

... One month later, I bid farewell to my twenties and said hello to the big 3-Oh. Luckily, my sweetheart of a hubby softened the blow with a surprise party that I'm still not quite sure how he pulled off.

... We enjoyed our favorite pumpkin-filled season by jam-packing a slew of fun fall activities, like going to an orchard, taking an annual trip to Walter's Pumpkin Patch, throwing our first {and definitely not our last} tailgate pumpkin party, and celebrating Halloween with friends.

... And most recently, we gave a lot of thanks by kicking off Thanksgiving at the Farm and ending the year with the best Christmas ever.

So, 2014. It might not be the easiest feat to bring the same joy that 2013 offered. But it's at least worth a shot.

Looking forward to getting to know you better.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The 2013 Holiday Haze

At this exact moment, I am sitting in silence.
Which is giving me quite the case of culture shock.
Something I'm not quite sure what to do with.

Today is the first day in nine days where we do not have back-to-back holiday festivities.

Nine days.

Nine days of travel, relatives, last-minute shopping, last-minute wrapping, lunch dates, reunions with out-of-town guests, attending parties, hosting parties, gift-exchanging, non.stop.eating {and drinking}, and averaging a 5-hours-past-my-bedtime bedtime.

It's the annual juxtaposition of endless holiday merriment versus the hazy aftermath that leaves you wiped out and in desperate need of a vacation.

Lucky for me, I don't go back to work until Thursday.
Unlucky for Gabe, he went back to work today.
With zero minutes of easing back into the real world.

But this year and all of its lovely, holiday-spiritied chaos was truly the best. This was the year where it all started to count. Where Lyla didn't quite fully understand the magic of the holidays, yet sure got into the present-opening, the doting from dozens of friends and family, and the otherwise-forbidden sugary treats. This year was such a delight as we were able to experience Christmas through a one year old's eyes.

We kicked things off with my very favorite annual tradition that began as a newlywed couple while living in Dallas. We put up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving {and not a day sooner}, hooked up the tv right next to the twinkling lights, blew up the air mattress, and watched Christmas movies all night long.

We partook in a few other before-Christmas traditions, one of which was decorating Christmas cookies. In other words, Gabe and I decorated while Chunkin nibbled. She didn't seem to mind the fact that I accidentally doubled the amount of butter the recipe called for in the icing. Then, Chunkin opened her 2nd annual gift of jammies and a new book. I thought this would be a Christmas Eve tradition, but this year, we decided to get wild and do it a few weeks before Christmas so we could actually enjoy those sweet little flannels more than one day of the year. Finally, we rang in Christmas week by taking a "stroll" on the plaza to check out the Christmas lights. I use the term stroll very loosely as we went to one shop, stopped to take a few pictures, and looked at lights for about 3 minutes. It was a damp 7 degrees.

Then we hit the jackpot on Christmas Eve. Well, actually it started a few days prior. I went in to wake up Lyla one morning and noticed an awful stench. I should have known something wasn't quite right when she was sitting in her crib facing the wall and sucking her thumb {like she was embarrassed}. I walked over to find a pool of vomit in her crib. This unfortunate Christmas cheer was rapidly spread throughout the Green household. Sadly, Gabe had it the worst, and on Christmas Eve for that matter. This is the one day, second to Thanksgiving, that he looks forward to most in terms of gluttonous eating as we feast on shrimp, artisan cheeses, mushroom soup, and Char's famous fudge. Poor Gabe just sat there watching, sweating, and turning various shades of green while we indulged. But he also mustered up the strength to take Chunkin and I to Christmas Eve Service, which was accompanied by live nativity animals and a real-life baby Jesus. Unsurprisingly, we only snapped two pictures that evening.

Thankfully, all of our bellies were happy by Christmas morning. I giddily jumped out of bed before the sun came up, put on my favorite Antrho apron, pumped up the holiday tunes, and got to work in the kitchen. But I could hardly contain my excitement when I heard Lyla stirring. So we immediately went in, scooped her up, brought her to the living room, and let the games begin. Santa brought her a Lyla-size table and chairs and some pretty fabulous accessories in her stocking. And of course in true Lyla fashion, she spent about 10 minutes gingerly opening each present, refusing to haphazardly rip into the paper like her mom toddler counterparts. Then the rest of our family joined us for some brunch favorites, including sausage puffs and peach mimosas.

And then of course we had a nap, time with my parents, and some more present opening {also read more attention to give to the only grandchild of an only daughter}. 

Followed by an evening of {you guessed it} eats & treats, gift-exchanging, and chatting by the fireplace with Gabe's sister and brother-in-law. Now although I am hyper-aware of the fact that Christmas is in no way about gifts, I sure do look forward to my sister and brother in law's gifts every  year. They always outdo themselves with their brilliant knitting handiwork {things that put Etsy to shame}. We've gotten scarves, gloves, hats, drink warmers, and our very favorite - last year's sweater and hat set for Ly. This year, two more hats that of course outdid last year's.

After a spirit-filled day with next to no sleep, we put Lyla to bed. Then the evening progressed into much-looked-forward-to adult conversations. I'm pretty sure we spent two and a half hours diagnosing one another's Myers Briggs personality types and identifying our subsequent strengths and weaknesses. An absolute blast if you ask me. Then, for the fifth night in a row, we hit the sheets at about 1:30 {in the a. to the m.}.

Happy we made the decision to stay the night at Gabe's parents, we were able to be part of a very special moment the next morning for my Mother-in-Law. The results came in from a DNA test that all the kiddos pitched in for for her 60th birthday. The test results were to determine her ethnic background, something she's never known as her own mother was adopted. The multiple-page results of charts, maps, and graphs were fascinating, and now Gabe knows that much of his ancestory comes from an island off the coast of Greece.

To celebrate, the boys decided to have a family brew day. {As if they need a reason...but I don't think I've ever seen Gabe so elated}.

Forgive the fact that our garage screams "Clean and Classy"

Now for those saints who are still reading, and just in case that didn't quite exhaust you like it did me, that was only the first half of our holiday. :)

The four days that followed were a blurry, perpetual stream of visitors, social gatherings, and catching up with old friends who live all over the world. Although I feel like I just swam the Aegean Sea, my heart is so full that I'm quite confident it did in fact burst. {But only to make room for more, of course}.

And because we were on a roll with never-ending fun, I did something completely out of character. I went with my long-time bestie and her husband to a two and a half hour movie at 9:45 on a Sunday night. That means it started 45 minutes past my bedtime. And I didn't yawn once!

You only live once - am I right, or am I right?

Thank you, Holidays of 2013. I'm pretty sure you will go down in history as the very best yet.

*This was taken minutes before we unexpectedly had a house full of nearly 40 people. Many of whom I've been friends with for nearly 25 years. Cheers to lifelong friendships!*