Sunday, December 29, 2013

It's Been Four Years

How many of you use Timehop? If you don't, you should definite download it. It reminds you of what you tweeted, Facebook'ed, etc. every day on the anniversary; it's really fun.

I knew it was coming up, but Timehop reminded me that as of today, it's been four years since I've seen B. I'm definitely a mix of emotions about that.

In a stroke of coincidental irony, I am headed back to Columbus, where I last saw him, for the Pens game tonight. Sigh.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Traditions

I hope Santa was very good to you this year!

One of the things I love most about holidays in my family is that they are very low-key affairs. Of course, we always make enough food to feed three small armies, but everyone is relaxed and just enjoying each other's company, and that's what the holidays are all about.

Today, I thought I'd share with you a few of my family's Christmas traditions.

º We always go to church on Christmas Eve together. When I was little, the service would be at 11 p.m., then when we got out, it would be Christmas. That was the best, and even better when it was snowing. Now, the service is at 7 p.m. (I'm convinced it's because the congregation is aging and old people can't stay up that late anymore), so it doesn't feel as magical, but is still pretty special. The service ends with the entire congregation around the perimeter of the darkened sanctuary singing "Silent Night." The only visible light is coming from the candles everyone is holding; it's so peaceful.

º After church, especially now that the service is earlier, we go home, turn on A Christmas Story, and finish up any wrapping that needs to be completed. Since I now keep the hours of a senior citizen, I don't make it much past 10 p.m. without falling asleep on the couch.

º Every since I was little, the rule on Christmas morning was that we had to be "properly dressed" before coming downstairs. That really just means no pajamas. The rule came from when my mom, who was one of nine, was little. It sounds silly, but I was always so excited to lay out my clothes when I went to bed on Christmas Eve so I could jump right into them before heading downstairs to open gifts.

º After we are dressed and downstairs, we have to eat breakfast before opening any gifts (another rule from Polly's childhood). For as long as I can remember, Christmas breakfast has been Tastykate Pecan Swirls and orange juice. Now that we're not kids anymore, that orange juice often gets mixed in with champagne for Christmas mimosas. Pecan swirls certainly aren't a delicacy, but to us, they are Christmas and I look forward to them every year.

º When I was little, my middle brother and I always took turns passing out the gifts; we would alternate each year. Somehow, I've become the designated gift passer-outer; I can't even remember the last time my brother did it. So, I had out a few gifts, everyone opens, then we repeat until everything has been unwrapped.

º After gifts, my mom and I start cooking for Christmas dinner, while my brother goes back to his house to bake and do some of his own cooking. Polly raised some darn good cooks!

When my grandparents were still alive, our Christmas lunch/dinner was always ham, potato salad, some kind of vegetable, and of course, lots of baked goods. Now, we do the ham and I make cheesy potatoes. The past few years, we've also had asparagus, and some sort of roll/bread. I think I'm also going to make a sweet potato casserole.

We don't do anything fancy, but it's always delicious.

º After dinner, we will head up to my oldest brother's house so we can give my nieces and nephews their Christmas gifts. Everyone's bellies are full of food and hearts with Christmas joy. It's always a circus with eight people (plus two babies) opening gifts, but it's so much fun. Lots of squealing and flying paper.

º After all of the gifts are opened and the leftovers are put away, my mom and I just relax with the light of the Christmas tree illuminating the living room. Our Christmas festivities certainly aren't Pinterest-worthy, but they sure do make my heart swell with joy and gratitude.

What are your favorite Christmas traditions?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Monday Musings

I'm totally okay with today being Monday, because it's my last day of work for two weeks. I have a lot going on over the next 14 days, but believe you me, I will do a lot of relaxing, too.

1) We are two days away from Christmas. How in the world did that happen?! There are only eight days left in 2013. Where has the year gone?! My mind is blown.

2) The Pens played the Flames for the first time since my favorite goaltender, Miikka Kiprusoff, retired, and I was pretty sad. In fact, I didn't even bother getting tickets. I can't tell you the last time I missed Calgary playing in Pittsburgh, but my heart just wasn't in it this year.

If you aren't a hockey fan/haven't figured it out yet, my kitty, Miikka Kittensoff is named after my favorite Finn, Miikka Kiprusoff.

I miss Kipper a lot. I still hold out hope that I'll get to meet him one day. Because I'm feeling super nostalgic, enjoy some of my favorite Kipper videos:

3) Now I'm sad all over again that I never made it to the Saddledome to see Kipper play at home.

4) Dozer is home! After spending a week in the animal hospital with a nasty virus, he's back home with his puppy brothers and sisters, just in time for Christmas. If I had to pick just one thing to get for Christmas, it would be a healthy Dozer, so I'm all set. Thank you for all for all of the prayers and puppy power you sent his way.

5) My back is so much better! I'm still not pain-free, but I'd say I'm about 75-80% recovered, which is so much better than I was this time last week. I'm able to get out of chairs and the car with minimal pain, am sleeping much better, and am a lot more comfortable sitting. Hopefully I'm 100%, or very close to it, by the Winter Classic.

5) As of Friday, I'll have been at my current job for a year. I cannot believe how quickly this year as gone; it absolutely flew.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas! I hope your holidays are filled with love, joy, and blessings.

Friday, December 20, 2013

2013 Secret Santa Gift Exchange

I love giving gifts and I love surprises, so Secret Santa exchanges are one of my most favorite things about the holidays. It's so much fun to shop for someone, especially when they don't know who their Secret Santa is.

One of my favorite bloggers, Kym, over at Travel Babbles, organized a Secret Santa exchange for social media lovers, and I'm so glad she did! This has been so much fun and has really helped me to get into the holiday spirit.

So, without further ado....

As soon as I opened my package, I felt like I had been friends forever with my Secret Santa. She wrote me a sweet letter detailing why she had sent me each thing, and everything was spot on! I was blown away by how thoughtful she was, and how she had clearly taken time to shop for things she knew I would love.

I had actually forgotten what I listed as my likes and interests, so I had no idea what to expect when my gift arrived. I obviously indicated how much I loved lemon things, because Penny did a great job of sending me awesome lemon treats. I plan on making the lemon cake for my family for Christmas, and keeping the lemon drops in my desk at work for when a craving for something sweet strikes. I was also really pumped about the Luna bar because 1) I love Luna bars; and 2) the lemon flavor is one of my favorites.

I swear, Penny must be psychic, because I had just been reading about the E.L.F. Studio High Definition Powder and was planning to buy myself some to try it out. Of course, what's great powder without a new brush to try it with?! Then, the false eyelashes! I had just said to my mom a few days prior to my box arriving that I really wanted to try false eyelashes to see if I could master them and how they would look on me. I'm so excited to them out!

If you know me at all, you know how addicted I am to nail polish. Penny did a great job with this shade because it's not one I already have in my collection, and, get this: she bought it for me because I listed that I am a hockey fan and it's name is Pucker Up. PUCK-er Up. How cute is she?! Of course, you can never have too many nail files on hand, so an extra one is very much appreciated.

Further proof that Penny is psychic: She sent me Tide stain erasers. How did she know that I ALWAYS manage to spill food on my boobs/down my shirt. These will be a godsend when I've made a mess of myself in public.

I love everything that Penny sent me, but the last two things are definitely my favorite. I'm a huge sports fan, but hockey is definitely my favorite. I will watch any level and any team; I can't get enough.

I have never seen Teeny Mates before, but now I'm going to start collecting them, because they are so darn cute. I'm waiting until Christmas to open mine, just for the fun of it. I can't wait to see who I got!

As it turns out, Penny is also a hockey fan. Thank you, Kym, for pairing us up! Her favorite team is the San Jose Sharks, so she sent me one of their holiday pucks. I actually went to a game at The Shark Tank (HP Pavillion) back in 2012, so I may have seen Penny and not even known it.

I am most excited about this gift because I actually have a puck collection! The majority of them are autographed by current NHLers whom I've met before/after games and practices, but I also have some from the NHL and AHL arenas I've visited, special hockey games I've attended, etc. I am so excited to add this special one to my collection.

Thank you, Penny, for sending me such thoughtful gifts; I was thrilled to pieces when I opened my box. I hope your Secret Santa was as good to you as you were to me! If you're reading this, please leave a comment because I don't have any contact information for you, besides your address!

I had the pleasure of shopping for the lovely Sara over at Pearls & Curls. Go show her some love!

This was so awesome, Kym! I hope we do it again next year. Thank you. xoxo

Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday Musings

1) I am still in a crap-ton of pain, so this is already a really awful Monday. Here's hoping the chiropractor can get me some relief tonight. It basically hurts to do anything, so, I'm one big pile of hurt.

2) I'm taking muscle relaxers at work, so that should be super fun. Can I just watch Netflix all day?

3) My brother's dog, Dozer, is really sick. He and two of my brother's other dogs have come down with parvo. The other two are on the mend, but poor Dozer is still struggling. He had to stay overnight in the animal hospital over the weekend, and refuses to eat because he knows it makes him throw up. He's a least drinking water and able to keep it down, so that's a plus. He's the greatest dog I know and we are best buddies. If you have a spare second today, please say a prayer for him, and if you have any dogs in your life, send him some puppy power.

4) So. Homeland. If you're not caught up/didn't see last night's season finale/don't want to know in case you watch the series in the future, skip ahead.

WHAT. THE. EFF. I am so mad at you, Homeland. Unless you redeem yourself in the very first episode next season, we are breaking up. I CANNOT BELIEVE BRODY WAS KILLED OFF. So many feelings. So much anger. So much sadness. Brody is/was, by far, my favorite character on the show, and my second favorite Marine (yes, I know he's only a fictional character, shut up. Don't you know not to try to rationalize with a grieving/angry woman?!) How am I supposed to get my Damian Lewis fix now?! I know it makes for better tv this way, but I wanted some semblance of normalcy and happiness for Carrie and Brody.

I'm still holding out hope that he's not really dead and there's a major plan being hatched. I know, I know, he was hung, but maybe, just maybe, he only acted dead, they pulled him down, and have him stashed away somewhere. I'm just going to go on believing that until I'm told otherwise. I'm more upset about this than the end of season three of Downton Abbey, so, yeah.

5) I spent Saturday with my college best friend, her wife, and her family. I cannot even put into words how magical and perfect it was. I was just going to talk about it today, but it really does deserve it's own post. Saturday night truly was chicken soup for my soul. There's just something about being with people that have seen you at your best and worst that can make everything in your world feel right, no matter what is going on in your life. I feel so blessed to still have Shawna in my life after all of these years.

How was your weekend? I hope you have a very happy Monday!
There's a Pens game tonight, so I'm just going to think about that to get me through the day.

Friday, December 13, 2013

I'm Never Kidding When I Say Ridiculous Things Happen to Me

I am in some serious pain right now. I'm fairly certain this all stems from when I fell a few months ago. In another life, I'm am positive my name must have been Grace, because in this life, I am anything but.

I'm sure you are wondering how I fell. Well, my mom, middle brother, and I decided to go out to brunch and head to Target one Sunday morning back in August. All of that sounds like a killer day, right? Well, it totally would have been, had I not been blinded by the pretty red shoes in Target.

Two things I can't ever pass by without looking at: shoes and nail polish. So, after checking out all of the nail polish, I headed straight over to the shoe department, even though I really had to go to the bathroom. I forgot all about everything else as soon as I saw that fateful pair of gorgeous, patent leather, ruby red pumps.

The heels were only probably about three inches, so I was confident that I could wear them with no problem. As much as I love shoes, especially heels, I can't walk in them. It's sort of like when people buy a white couch, then don't ever let anyone sit on it. I buy pretty shoes I can't walk anywhere in, so I just have them on display in my closet, or walk around in them in my underwear in my bedroom.

As soon as I put them on, I knew they are meant for me. They are so comfortable and fit my foot beautifully. Naturally, I start to strut down the shoe aisle, putting on my best Tyra face, because I am werking these shoes.

As I turn to come back, I imagine myself do the Miss America wave, because that's obviously what people do while they wear amazing shoes. The next thing I know, in slow motion, I feel one of my ankles roll, and I'm thrown off balance. I do my best to correct myself, but, it's too late. I fall like a ton of bricks against one of the shoe racks, obviously no longer looking as fierce as I assumed I did, just a few seconds prior.

I quickly look around to make sure no one had seen me, and there wasn't a single soul around, so I was in the clear there. However, my ankles and calf were already killing me. I tentatively pushed up my pant leg, only to see bruising quickly appearing where my body slammed into the shoe rack. Let me tell you, I know how do it up pretty good.

Just then, my mom sent me a text to find out where I was since she hadn't seen me since we walked into the store. I hobbled over to where her and my brother were, and they knew immediately something had happened because of the way I was walking. Given my track record, they were anything but surprised to learn that I had fallen.

Since my urge to shop had shattered, along with my pride when I fell, I finally headed to the bathroom. I needed a few minutes to sit and compose myself. My ankles were killing me and I actually felt a little lightheaded from the pain. Because I was too focused on the pain in my ankles and from the developing bruises, I initially ignored how weird my pants felt. I sort of felt like I was wearing a diaper, but I had yoga pants on, so that didn't quite make sense. Just as I got to the bathroom, the horrifying realization hit me.

When I fell...I...sharted. I actually, quite literally, pooped my pants. I've heard about people in accidents losing control of their bodily functions, but how in the hell did that just happened to me?! Are you serious?!

Since I can't ever remember pooping my pants, I'm assuming it's been a good 27 years since it has happened. Here I am, newly 30, and sitting it a Target bathroom with pooped pants; I've clearly got my life together. Thank God no one noticed on my way there. I hurriedly text my mom.

Me: Did my pants look weird when you saw me?!
Mom: What?
Mom: You're not making any sense. I don't know what you're talking about. Where are you?
Me: I'm in the bathroom. I pooped my pants when I fell.
Me: Yes, I did. Please buy me a new pair of pants and bring them to me. This is an emergency.

Within minutes, I had new pants and we were on our way home. Once I had clean pants on, I realized how ridiculously funny this was, and my mom, brother, and I laughed about it the whole way home. My brother, thinking he is oh so funny, will still periodically say to me, "Hey, remember that time you shit your pants in Target?"

I'm sure some of you are wondering why in the hell I am sharing this. Before now, only my mom and my brother knew; I hadn't even told my best friends. I don't take myself seriously at all, so, why not let you all have a good laugh at my expense?

After my fall, I was in so much pain, I went to urgent care the next day and was diagnosed with a high-ankle both ankles, in addition to the bright purple bruises I had on my legs. Yep, I'm really good at injuring myself.

My ankles have since healed, but lately, I've been have a lot of pain in my lower back. I was at the point earlier this week where it hurts to roll over in bed, and when I try to get up out of a chair, I look like a 97-year old woman. I couldn't take the pain anymore, so I called my chiropractor.

At my appointment on Wednesday, he told me that when I fell, I appear to have knocked a vertebrae in my lower-back out of alignment. An injury like that doesn't always hurt immediately, and in my case, it didn't. However, over time, to compensate for the misalignment and protect the injury, the area around my spine has become swollen, which is compressing the muscles and possibly pinching a nerve or two. So, I have to go to the chiropractor three days a week for at least the remainder of the month, sit in hard chairs, and have ice on my back for 20 minutes at a time whenever possible.

Is it possible to sue a pair of shoes? If so, I need to look into it. Because of those shoes, I pooped my pants, got two sprained ankles, and now have a jacked-up back. Unbelievable.

As you can see, I didn't choose the "follies" part of my blog's name only because it's cutsie and alliterative; my life really is just one big folly.

Have a great weekend, friends! Hopefully I'll be noticeably better by Monday.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday Musings

I like to ease into my Mondays as much as I can. I have found that doing so really keeps the dreaded Monday blues at bay. Depending on how busy I am at work on any given Monday, I like to sit down with a cup of coffee, catch up on my favorite blogs, and paint my nails. Sometimes, if I've fallen asleep early the night before, I'll watch the newest episode of my Sunday night show, which is currently Homeland. I tend to get to work between 7 and 7:30 a.m., so I don't feel guilty about doing these non-work related things, as no one else is really here yet, so I can't get much done anyway, besides responding to emails that came in overnight.

When I was in college, one of my friends started dating this guy who would nowadays be called a hipster. I would have sworn he got high all the time, except, he didn't event drink. This kid was all kind of awesome and bizarre, rolled into a strangely well-dressed package. He loved philosophy and always ended up saying the deepest things in class. Over fall break, he sent my friend an email with "Musings in Kentucky" in the subject line, and we laughed for hours about it. He wrote to her while sitting on a hill somewhere in Kentucky, and waxed poetically about his feelings for her, and about life in general.

Without further ado, welcome to Monday Musings. A new, weekly feature of nothing but my random thoughts written in an attempt to make Monday more fun than just the first day back after the weekend.

1) I just ate a really good pear. One of our vendors sent us a box for Christmas and now I just want to eat the whole thing. I'm sure people in the office think a box a pears is lame and would rather have chocolate, and if that's the case, they can give theirs to me.

2) I was really, really emotional yesterday and ending up crying a lot. Could be from PMS, could be from over-thinking, could be from the soul searching I've been doing lately. I'll probably write a post about it this week, just to vent and organize my thoughts. I'm feeling better today, I think. I refuse to let crap with B. ruin a perfectly good day.

3) I tried my hand at tightlining on Friday and love the way it looks. It's actually really easy to do and I'm confident I will be a pro at it in no time.

4) After eating that pear, my hands and desk are both really sticky. One downside to those pears. I must be better prepared when I eat one next time later.

5) My mom's birthday was Saturday, so I spent the day spoiling her and hanging out at my oldest brother's house. It was such a nice day, and I'm glad I still have my mom around so we can do things like that. I can't believe she's 68! She certainly doesn't look or act like it.

Don't forget to let your parents know how much your love them. They won't be here forever, and when they're gone, you'll wish you could tell them one more time.

6) I love sports, but really hate all of the analysis that goes along with them, especially on Twitter. Listen, sports fans, If we're being really honest here, I don't give a shit what you have to say about my favorite team and favorite players. Half the time, I could not care less what the guys and gals who get paid to analyze sports think about my favorite team and favorite players. I understand that your sports blog is your hobby, but please, tone it down a bit and repeat after me: I am not an expert. I...don't understand why so many people feel like they need to share their in-depth analysis and play-by-play with their Twitter feeds. How do you enjoy a game when you're too busy thinking that the outcome depends on what you think about it?

This mini rant stems from the Pens game on Saturday, which was ridiculous to say the least. If you're not a hockey fan, or didn't see the game, here's what happened. Since the game, Twitter has been full of people saying the same things over and over, taking a shot at what the suspensions will be, trying to analyze why any of it was done in the first place, etc. It's a bit ridiculous. Please, people, walk away from the internet for a minute and realize that nothing you say will effect the outcome of the disciplinary hearings, the way the NHL addresses fighting moving forward, etc. I hate to be a jerk, but your opinion doesn't matter and I'm sick of reading it. I'm sure you're saying, "Kylie, why don't you just stay off Twitter?" I have, actually, and this nonsense is precisely the reason why. In fact, I don't even go near Twitter during games anymore, because everyone says the same things, bashes the same players and coaches, and provides their same "expert" analysis. I miss Twitter in 2009 when everyone liked each other and it just felt like watching games together in a massive bar. I'm a Twitter hipster and wish we could go back to those days.

7) I will first preface this by saying that when I was in college, social media didn't really exist. Allegheny didn't get Facebook until the end of my senior year, so the biggest distraction I had was AIM (wow, how much am I dating myself here?!). That being said, I have seen so many people say that studying for finals is keeping them from sleeping for days on end/eating/showering. Okay, I'm just going to be blunt: I don't believe you. First of all, if you have time to browse social media, you have time to shower or make a Hot Pocket. If you can take time to watch a game/movie/ eight hours of Netflix, you can take time to nap.

This is going to sound quite elitist, and I don't care. I went to a very academically rigorous school, so I know how much work and studying is involved when finals roll around. I would have 10-12 page papers due the last day of class in multiple classes, on top of studying for finals. My senior comprehensive project was 92 pages, and I still had three finals on top of it. I get it, the end of the semester is hard, but this is what you signed up for. I've never seen graduate and/or professional school students bitch and whine this much. Finals aren't a pissing contest and you don't get a cookie for out-whining your peers. Please, just stop.

I had an eighth musing to post, but I'll save it for another day, because I'm already sounding like someone pissed in my Wheaties this morning. Actually, I'm just wearing my super sassy knee boots and a dress that was too small this summer.

Also, sorry for the swearing. It comes along with the sassy boots. I hope you're all having a great Monday so far!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas 2013 Wishlist

If there's one thing I'm am good at, it's making a wish list. If making a wish list were an Olympic sport, I'd win gold each and every Olympiad until I die. I add to my Amazon wish list year-round, especially since they added the nifty toolbar button that lets you add items from any site with just two clicks.

Part of me adds things to my wish list so that in the event that I win the Powerball and come into some other large windfall of money, I can quickly and easily do a great deal of cyber damage without breaking a sweat. Also, you never know when a handsome benefactor will stumble upon your list and decide to gift you everything your little heart desires. Either way, it's best to be prepared.

Christmas 2013 Wishlist

If you can't tell, I'm a huge beauty junkie. Sephora and Ulta are very dangerous places for me to set foot into. If I don't exercise every ounce of self-control that I possess, I will quickly go broke buying more makeup. I pray that neither store ever offers a credit card, because I will be in serious trouble if that happens.

(going left to right, top to bottom)

3. and 8. I really want to learn how to do highlighting and contouring. After doing some YouTube searching, I found this great instructional video, so I really want to try the products she demonstrates. I know I could probably find cheaper options of both items, but, since this is my wish list, I might as well go big.

4., 5., and 6. Same deal here. After watching this video, I really want to perfect the tightlining technique. Eye makeup is my favorite, and I think it looks so nice.

If any of you have suggestions for a pencil to use on the lower waterline that doesn't pull/tug/smudge, please let me know. I love the way bottom eyeliner looks, but HATE the mess it turns into as the day goes on.

7. My name is Kylie and I hoard lip glosses. I have more lip glosses than five women could use in a year, yet, I keep buying them. I have a couple shades of Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment and I love them all. I tend to gravitate towards darker red/purple shades, so, I really want to try this one. I know I won't be disappointed.

11. I learned about this set from Southern Beauty Guide. I love skincare products! I currently use a regiment of Mary Kay products that I love, however, I am all for anything that people rave about and say they see immediate results with. As far as I'm concerned, you can't over-care (did I just make that up? I think so) for your skin, so, I'm up for trying anything.

12. The Naked 3 palette. Sigh. Drool. Wish. Sorry, sorry. Where were we? I covet this palette so much. I mean, just look at it! The colors are beautiful, and not to mention, the hues I reach for on a daily basis. I have hazel eyes that are more brownish, so, my eye makeup is almost always on the rosey/purple side. I need to own this.

I figured I'd cover the beauty items first, as they dominate my list. Now for the rest, in order.

1. My mom spoiled me with my very first piece of Tiffany jewelry for my 21st birthday and it's been downhill an obsession ever since. I've added several more pieces to my collection since then, but none is rose gold. This need to change, because I absolutely adore rose gold, hence why I want this necklace so badly.

2. Wicked is my absolute favorite Broadway show. If you haven't seen it yet, you must go when the national tour comes to the city nearest you. I had the entire soundtrack memorized before I even saw it for the first time. I've seen it a total of four times so far, including once on Broadway. I'm telling you, go see it ASAP. You won't be the same after it's over.

2013 is the 10th Anniversary of Wicked, so there are several commemorative items for sale, including this one. I got my first record player a few months ago, so, I definitely need to have one of my most favorite albums on vinyl.

9. I don't currently own a tablet, but I would like to have one. I love Apple, but, I really want a Kindle. I know you can download the Kindle app for iPad, but, I'd just rather have an eReader that doubles as a tablet. Plus, the Kindle Fire HDX is quite a bit cheaper than the iPad.

10. This bag is so beautiful. I gravitate toward any kind of red accessory, and I love patent leather, so, this is perfect for me. The first time I saw this bag, my mouth just fell open. I love the Micheal Kors bag I have, and I need to have this one, too.

11. There's just something romantic about old movies; I love them. I especially loves ones starring Audrey Hepburn, my favorite fashion icon. I'd love to add this set to my movie collection.

12. I love Alex and Ani bracelets so much, and I so badly want to start my collection. This bracelet is part of the Team USA collection for Sochi 2014.

There are few things I love more than international competition, especially hockey. Come February, I will be living and dying by every Team USA game.

Santa is probably sick and tired of my extensive wish lists, but, a girl can dream, right?

What's on your wish list this Christmas?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Have You Seen My Christmas Spirit?

Ever since I worked in retail, I have a very difficult time getting into the Christmas spirit, and it makes me really sad, because I love Christmas. There are only 22 days left until Christmas, and I don't feel any merrier than I did yesterday. I even did quite a bit of Christmas shopping over the weekend, and still nothing.

During the almost five years I worked in retail, the holidays became associated with long hours, exhaustion, rude customers, and last-minute shopping. I felt like I was making everyone else's Christmas wishes come true while mine and my family's were put on the back burner. Don't get me wrong, I really loved the adrenaline rush of working during the holidays, but it really took the true meaning of Christmas out of the holiday season for me. Instead of the days leading up to Christmas being spent by wrapping gifts, watching Christmas movies, baking cookies, and going to church, I was spending nearly 40 hours a week (on top of my full-time job) selling as much merchandise as I could.

This is my second year away from the grind of retail during the holidays, and I still don't know how to get into the holiday spirit. I love Christmas music, so I've tried that, but even that hasn't worked. I tried making mint hot chocolate and watching The Holiday on Sunday evening, and that didn't work either.

Hopefully you can help me get into the Christmas spirit. I love sending mail, so, why don't I send you a Christmas card? Click here, give me your address (don't shy away if you're not in the U.S.; I have international forever stamps!), and expect some fun mail from yours truly before Christmas!

I've made my Christmas wish list (emphasis on wish), so you'll get to see what my little heart desires later this week.

Monday, November 25, 2013

My Nieces and Nephews

I know I'm a little biased, but I'm pretty sure I have the sweetest and cutest nieces and nephews around. They live only about 15-20 minutes away from me, so I get to seem them pretty often, and for that, I'm very thankful.

I don't have my own children, and I'm not sure I even ever want to be a mom, however, I like being an aunt a whole lot, and I think I'm really good at it. I get to spoil kids I love, then give them back at the end of the day/weekend. Pretty ideal situation.

Quinton and Braden are the best big brothers. For almost eight years, it was just them, and then, the sassiest little lady who ever did sass, Miss Avia, came along.

Avia is three and we are two peas in a pod, except, she's way sassier than me. Every time I'm with her, I have to paint her nails. It's become our ritual, so I'm always sure to have a few on hand so she can feel like the color choice is hers. She also loves to pick out her own outfits and go shopping. Her parents are in for a world of trouble.

As you can see, Avia is a champ at taking selfies with me, so we are always taking pictures after our nails are done.

A year ago, my brother and his wife welcomed their fourth and fifth children into the world. That's right, two sets of twins. Quinton and Braden were conceived through fertility, but the girls were au naturale.

Vaila and Vieira are the littlest sweethearts, who adore their big brothers and sister so much. Babies tend to freak me out a bit, but I like them a lot.

Yesterday was their first birthday, which I cannot believe. I'm amazed at just how fast this year has gone. I feel like we were just at my sister-in-law's baby shower when my brother came in and announced that they had been born. Yep, they arrived on their shower day, and since Pitbull said "don't stop the party," their brothers and sister opened all of the gifts.

I can never get Vaila to take pictures with me because she's squirming all of the place. Vieira is a little better, but, her selfie game still needs some work.

As I was helping to carry things out to the car when the party was over, Braden held the door for me like a little gentleman. I asked him if my brother had taught him to do that, and he shrugged and said, "No, it's just manners." I felt my heart swell with pride. I then told him that it's important to always hold doors for people, especially ladies. It was in that moment that it hit me just how lucky I am to have these amazing kids look up to me. I don't want to ever take that for granted.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Lots of Thankfulness - Part II

1) Veterinary medicine
Both of my cats have a cold. Yes, you read that right. Both cats. I will post about my new addition, Rosie, very soon. I took them to the vet yesterday and they were both given antibiotics, and Miikka got a shot of medicine. My poor baby Miikka had a fever! Man, I don't know how parents deal with sick kids. I felt so bad for my little kitty; a human would be gut-wrenching. Thankfully, the vet was able to get us in the same day I called, so my furry friends are on their way to a full recovery. They are both still eating well and playing together as much as ever, so I'm hopeful they'll be as good as new in no time.

2) Seasonal beverages at Starbucks
I really love seasonal things. They help me get in the mood for whatever time of year it is, especially the holidays. What I'm about to say will probably disgust you, and very well may change your opinion of me, but, I think pumpkin spice lattes should come out later. It's still warm in early September, so it doesn't quite feel like fall yet. I almost always get a pumpkin spiced latte within days of them being available, though. It seems like the hype starts as soon as we flip our calendars to September, but I think I would be able to enjoy them just a little bit more if the thermometer read a few degrees cooler.

The seasonal drinks at Starbucks always put in the holiday spirit. For the almost five years I worked retail, getting in the holiday spirit was sometimes very difficult,as I was constantly surrounded by capitalism and disgusting displays of consumerism. I'm not going to turn this into a religious soapbox, but I do believe we all tend to forget "the reason for the season." Christ (if you believe in Him), family, and the things we do have, seem to go by the wayside.

As I get older, the holidays become less and less about material things, and more about friends, family, and sharing love with people. I equate holiday drinks to spa treatments for my insides. As silly as it sounds, enjoying a Starbucks holiday drink reminds me to take a moment to appreciate the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the season, to really appreciate what this time of year is all about: Appreciating the love and joy you have in your life, and spread it to others whenever possible.

3) Hockey
This sport has had such a huge impact on my life, especially in the last few years. I have met some of my closest friends, simply because they were hockey fans, too. I've gone on hockey vacations with friends, and the love for hockey my friends and I have even took us to the Olympics. Some of my favorite memories with my friends are our hockey road trips.

I have even had other hockey fans send me things from out-of-town teams that I am a fan of, without having met me, or knowing me well enough to know that I wouldn't screw them over on the money. The hockey community that I've found, for the most part, really does look out for one another. Sports really do bring people together.

4) A job I feel good about
I have worked for non-profits all of my adult life (I cannot believe I'm considered an adult, but that's a post for another day), and have never really felt connected to the mission, until now. I am truly lucky to be a part of the American Red Cross, and all of the wonderful things this organization does for people. Every morning while I'm getting ready for work, I hear about another fire on the news and how the organization I work for helped people in need.

My job is to plan events that raise money, and sometimes as fundraisers, my co-workers and I can get too focused on sponsors and donors and dollar amounts. However, seeing our hard work benefit others, in what is most often times the worst time of their life, is so rewarding. What I do every day makes someone's life better, and that is truly priceless.

I don't always love my job, but I feel really blessed that I get to do something that matters, and I do love that feeling.

I'm gearing up for a small, high-end donor event tomorrow, so that's all I have time for at the moment. I hope you're having a great week so far!