Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . .

We got our tree a couple of weeks ago but just found time to decorate it early last week.  It was a big one this year (Ian always forgets we only have 8 foot ceilings!) and the guy at Lowe's cut it funny so we had to make some adjustments when we got home (Ian was NOT happy).  I think I heard the words, "God damn Christmas" come out more than once while we were trying to get it to fit in the tree stand straight.  Ian definitely has a love/hate relationship with decorating for Christmas!

(Don't ever get your tree wrapped up with netting, it is a PAIN to get off!)

(We struggled with it forever!)

(After a week, we finally got around to hanging some lights.)


(We got a crooked tree this year, but it's still beautiful!)

A couple of Saturdays ago, Snake Burner, Ian's band, played their annual Christmas show.  For a few years in row now they have always played around Christmas, and we were SO looking forward to this super fun show!  (Check out my post from last year when they played in downtown Phoenix at City Scape's New Years Eve!) 
(best friends)

(All of my ladies came out to support Ian and stayed until almost 2am!  They are awesome!)

(Christie and Marisol)

(And, Christie was doing tattoos again - even on my mom's chest!)

And, a clip from the show, they practiced Chrismas songs for weeks!

Last weekend, Jenny and Matt had a Christmas party at their house.  I was SO excited to have something fun to do where all of our friends would be at, and it turned out just like I thought!  Lots of food and friends to celebrate with!  We had a blast!

(Christine and Jeremy)

(Me and the hubs.)

(Our lovely acupuncturist and friend Mayo, who snuck cookies in her purse for her hubby!  If you are in the market for an acupuncturist in Phoenix with fair prices, see my previous post about her practice.)

(Someone brought the twins fake snow, in a can, and it was the weirdest thing we had ever seen!)

(Seriously smelled awful and felt weird!)

(Tozzi came to the party too, we love him!)

(Our lovely hosts.)

(The best picture I think I've ever taken.  Love it!)

 So, here we are, our last day of school.  I can't wait to have 2 weeks off, it has been a crazy past few months and I'm tired!  We have so many plans for the rest of the week until Christmas, I am excited to spend our days/nights with family and friends.  We even have some special people coming in from out of town, I can't wait to see Kimberly and Andrea (pics to come, I'm sure)! 

I hope that you enjoy your time off this holiday season and don't let the craziness of Christmas get you down.  It's all about spending time with those you love, don't forget that.  Happy holidays to you and yours my friends!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Babes of Winter: Cookie Making Party II

This past Saturday my best girlfriends and I got together for our 2nd Annual Christmas Cookie Making Party!  We invited some moms to join in the fun and even some guys later on, and it ended up being a really great morning!  (Check out this post from last year's cookie making party.)

I wanted to make gluten free gingerbread men (my friend Jenny's recipe modified), gluten free cookie press cookies and gluten free Italian cookies.  It turned out to be too many cookies for the time we had together so I ended up just getting the gingerbread men and cookie press ones done (and later this week my mom brought over the Italian ones for us!).  Jenny's gingerbread men were always my favorite at Christmas and last year she modified her recipe to make it vegan and this year I modified it to make it gluten free.  They turned out DELICIOUS and I ate almost all the ones I made - oops!

We had a wonderful morning baking and just being together.  As you get older your friends, and you, get busier and it is harder and harder to get everyone together.  I am so lucky to have these ladies in my life (I know I have said this MANY times before), and I love it when we all can be together.  I also am a super lucky girl to have such a great relationship with my mom, she is my best friend and I LOVE spending time with her too!

Thank you, Jenny, for having us over (again) and thanks mom and Jenny for some of these great pics!

(June and Phoenix)

(Me, yep I'm in strapless dress in December!  Gotta love Arizona!)

(Me and Jenny)

(Me and Christie)

(I have no idea why I'm laughing.)

(Christine and her mom, Gail.)

(Me and my mom.)

(Every year we forget how to use the cookie press and then figure it out.)

(Christine making her baklava.)

(You seriously have no idea how good their "crack corn" is.  There is a reason they call it that!)

(See!  I couldn't resist!)
(Espen, Christine's son, sampling the "crack corn."

(Christine and her lover, Jeremy.)

(Espen helping me decorate . . . )

( . . .and getting tattooed by Christie!)

(Phoenix even helped a bit!)

(He was the BEST roller!)

(I would marry this lady, that's JUST how much I love her!)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Blogiversary

Exactly one year ago today I wrote this post, thinking that I would start a blog about my journey into motherhood.  Little did I know that a year later I would be here, sans baby, but still chugging along.  Isn't life the funniest? 

As I start this post I get a teary eyed.  Not because I am sad, but because this year has been one of the toughest years for both of us and we are STILL HERE.  We survived, and it amazes me every single day.  LIFE amazes me, and all the crap it throws at you, just to leave you still standing in the end - different, changed, and much wiser.  I am so full of words and emotion on this, my blogiversary, but somehow cannot find the ones to express my feelings to you.

Every day I think of our baby that once was.  Every day I think of all the women who set out on a certain path just to have it taken from them or have it never happen for them.  Every day I am shocked that people think they have a plan for their lives, because the biggest lesson I've learned over this past year is - there is no plan.  And maybe, there is no one in control of any of this.  (Yes, I went there.)  I have lost faith a bit, have come to trust in myself and the strength I have, and not so much in someone else that doesn't seem to be around when we need him (her?) most.  I trust my family, my friends and all of those gone before us, I pray to them each day for courage.  But this person watching over us?  It's hard to believe in. 

I don't even know if I believe in fate much anymore.  Like we follow this path and this is what was supposed to happen in our lives.  That doesn't really explain why bad things happen to good people or why the choices we make sometimes lead to heartache.  I do, however, believe in chance, in karma and in doing the best you can at all times and HOPING that it brings some good to your life and the lives of the ones you love.  I don't believe everything happens for a reason (although I do think sometimes good comes from bad), and I don't think someone gives us only what we can handle (because we all know we CAN'T handle some things that at are thrown at us sometimes).

I haven't always been the best friend, girlfriend, wife or daughter.  I have made mistakes I am not proud of, as I'm sure we all have.  I don't necessarily think I've been punished for them, but I do think I was knocked down a bit from my high horse I was riding on for awhile there.  I still feel lucky, happy, content - but it is a different kind of feeling.  Much different than before.  A wiser version, I guess, a more grown up one. 

This was supposed to be a happy post, where is it going?  I don't mean to be negative or cynical, my point is that I am a completely different person than I was a year ago today.  This was the hardest year of my life but it has taught me so much about myself and others.  I am happier now than I have ever been before - how crazy is that?  Coming out of such darkness?  (I never thought I would be typing those words but there they are.)  And is is a different kind of happy, an indescribable one.  I have learned so much, done so much, fought so hard, cried, laughed and not wanted to get out of bed in the morning - but I did it, I DID IT.  And, I'm here - stronger than ever.  It's really so weird.

Who was that girl a year ago?  She thought she had it all worked out, all planned out, all of the puzzle pieces in order and all of her ducks in a row.  She graduated high school at 17, finished college at 21, got her Master's at 24, bought a house, planned a life, had a good job for 10 years, etc.  She thought she knew how her life would go and then it surprised her and didn't go as planned.  Nothing seemed to go as planned, all of a sudden, and her world fell apart.  But, SHE didn't fall apart - she rose up, stepped up and became better.  She learned and adapted and let go - things she never thought she'd have to do or be able to do.  Who is this girl now?  This girl is me.

I look at this blog, I see the picture at the top, I remember taking it, I remember asking Christine to upload it for me and getting my blog ready to announce my pregnancy - but it seems like lifetimes ago.  Only just recently have I gotten up the courage to go back and read some of my first posts, and I still can't even bring myself to read all of them. 

To my readers:  You have stuck by me all this time, thinking this was going to be a journey about pregnancy and motherhood, but instead have had to read about despair, sorrow and my sometimes mundane every day life.  (Who knew this would be a blog about that?)  Thank you for hanging with me, for allowing me to write this and for reading all of it.  This was the first blog I had ever written, the first public anything I put out into the world wide web (I am a teacher after all) and it was scary.  It was scary the whole time I was writing it, thinking would anyone read this?  Would anyone care about what I had to say?  Was I a good enough writer for people to want to read my posts?

I have been on a journey with you that I never expected, and have shared more with you than I ever anticipated sharing.  You have been with me through joyful days and dark ones, days I felt like giving up and days I learned to let go.  You have been there while I rebuilt myself, while I struggled to get my identity back.  I have opened up so much with you, I hope that you have enjoyed it.  My biggest hope, however, is that my words have helped some of you; that they have helped you cope, deal or learn something about yourself, just like I have by writing them down.  You have healed me, brought me back to life and made me the person that I am today; and for that, as I sit here with tears in my eyes, I THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.

Happy blogiversary friends.  Good things are in my future and I hope that you continue to ride along on this strange trip with me, and that we experience all that life has to offer - together.  Leaning on each other through good times and bad, sharing our experiences.  Learning, living, loving and always getting back up, when we are knocked down.  Thank you for reading, it means more to me than you will ever know.

Friday, November 25, 2011


A few months ago I wrote this post and today I decided to reread it to see if my view on gratitude had changed or stayed the same.   The words I wrote then I thought I meant, but as I read it and remembered how I felt, I don't think I really meant what I said back then.  I wanted to mean it, I was desperate to mean it, but I just didn't.

Now, I do.  I mean every word of it.  I wrote that, "[Gratitude is] learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you've been given . . . shift your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present."  I truly believe this and DO feel lucky for my life.   Everything we've been through has taught us something and we have grown from our experiences.  And, we've survived, that's the most amazing part.  Life WILL throw you curve balls but it's how you get past them that counts, you HAVE to survive and keep going, that's what makes us human.   We don't give up.

After starting the morning off in bed watching the parade, we shared a lovely, relaxing day with my Dad who I hadn't seen October and who hadn't been home since June.  I miss him so much when he's away and worry about him being all alone in Oregon, I like when he's here, when he's close.  So, spending Thanksgiving with him this year, and every year, makes me so happy.

(Gorgeous AZ day!)

I ordered food from this place a week ago and we picked it up one day after school.  The place is really scary and hard to find, and after trying the food yesterday - we weren't impressed by that either.  I wanted to find some gluten free sides I could eat without having to make anything, but I think we could have done better.  The pumpkin pies were too small for $9.99 (for 2), the stuffing was bland, the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies were gross and the rolls were just ok.  It was fun not cooking, but the food was just so so.  Usually we go out to dinner but this year, being gluten free, I was afraid I couldn't eat anywhere so it was a nice change (even though we had to clean the house!).


We don't have a dining room table, just a breakfast bar, so we borrowed a table from Ian's parents and set up a nice table to eat our meal at.  Ian wasn't feeling good (too many beers the night before) but my dad and I ate all the food and it was delicious.   He made green beans an mashed potatoes and along with his food and the turkey, the gf bakery stuff wasn't so bad. Thanksgiving is always hours of prep work (cooking, cleaning, heating, frying, etc) and then just minutes of eating - it goes by way too fast.  I was happy we didn't have to cook very much this year but I missed going out, it's just SO much easier!

The best part about our dinner was the turkey that Ian fried.  We borrow a fryer from school every year (not sure why the Special Education Department even has an electric turkey fryer) and it works super fast to make our turkey delicious!  This year we injected it the night before with cajun butter seasoning and coated it with gf flour before putting it in, and then Ian and my dad pulled it out at just the right time, it was so moist and yummy!   During the frying we had to ladle out some of the oil because it was too full and we put it in a pan next to the fryer. We found out later that Linus drank some of it and he ended up being sick all night!  Silly, stupid dog.

(Ian dropped a turkey liver on his phone!  Gross!)


(Poor little guy was sick all night.)

(A totally gluten free Thanksgiving!)

I missed seeing my mom because it was the first Thanksgiving without my Nani, but she was in Kentucky with my step-brother, sister-in-law and nieces having a blast.   Ian's parents went to Tucson to see his sister and his brother went with his wife and son to her family's house - so everyone kind of did their own thing.   It was low maintenance and oh so much better than the days of driving all over town, seeing all of our family in one day.  Things definitely get easier the older you get when you figure out the holidays.

We ended up on the couch at 8pm watching Elf and relaxed the rest of the night.  It was a busy but fun day with my two favorite men.   I am truly grateful for them in my life, and all of our family and friends.  Today, I DO feel like every day is a miracle and am happy for all that we have.  I am happy to have Ian, a wonderful family and amazing friends, and feel so much gratitude for all of them and the life that we have together.

(My favorite way to eat turkey, the next day!)

(Julie even came out later that night to say hello!)

Earlier this week my yoga students got together and laid on each other's bellies and told me what they were thankful for this week too.  It was awesome to hear what they cherished most, and it made me feel so special that I was there to hear them share it.  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving too and that you found a moment to be thankful amidst all the craziness. 

So often during the holiday season we are so busy rushing around that we lose sight of what this season is really about - gathering together with family and friends.  Take a moment and remember to breathe during all of the madness and take a moment to practice gratitude . . . and really mean it. :)