Christmas has graced us!

nope! not too early 🙂

one of my favorite traditions is spending our friday after thanksgiving putting up the christmas decorations (you too?)! that’s one way we like to try and work off all the pumpkin pie calories from the day before (and by ‘try’ i mean that in between the decorating, we eat pumpkin pie for breakfast/lunch and mashed potatoes for dinner, mmm). 
it’s fun to see all the things we stored away throughout the year and remember the funny stories, memories, etc! every year, i forget that james has all sorts of little christmas stockings, two little ones with puffed paint ‘jimmy’ on them, a couple ornament stockings and his main one—a larger ninja turtle stocking (which i lovingly placed a ‘jesus is the reason for the season’ on).me on the other hand, in addition to my gorgeous (gorgeous!) eighteen crystal orefors ornaments (one every year til i was eighteen..), i have loads of ornaments with my name from almost every year of life. clearly our families focused on different keepsakes, but it makes me smile every year! it also helps us think about what we’ll collect for our little ones… do you have any fun things you’ve collected over the years?
and i do declare that the most wonderful feeling is after all the lights are lit and garland is swagged, settling in with the latest martha stewart and real simple christmas issues, a nice cup of tea and bing in the background. merry christmas my friends! we can finally say that! ..okay we could have said it before but you know what i mean, no judgement now! woot!


merry christmas!

Happy Thanksgiving!

the best family photo we can manage thus far.
you’re welcome son 🙂
around these parts, we have two thanksgiving dinners. one yesterday and one tomorrow and we started the shopping on sunday to boot, so really it’s like a full week of thanksgiving mindset, which consists of family/friends, laughter and stuffing our faces.. err, our turkeys. thus, my introspection on thanksgiving always comes a little early.

so happy early thanksgiving my friends!

i am thankful for so many things. this year more than ever, i’ve realized the true gift of the things i always take for granted. the clothes on my back, the food on my plate, a job to work at, heat in my home and laundry machines in our bathroom (ok, that one i don’t take for granted too too much..cue to me hugging my washer last week).

in past years, i’ve conceptually thought, sure.. i’m thankful for these everyday things. but this year i feel that so much more than ever. i feel like this year has taught me so far that life is truly a miracle. every single step of it. and things that have seemed to always be there, i treasure more than ever.

i’m grateful for the family we have, both near and far, with all our (and their) misgivings, we are blessed to know them, to be connected with them, to have them to send cards and gifts to, to have family who sends pictures and prayer requests and recipes and terrible chain mail. yes even for that (you know who you are! for a church family so dear, who help us grow and aren’t intimidated by our junk. for a mom who continues to be my advocate, even as i become a mother and carry my own little baby. i guess i always thought that i’d have it together by this point so my mom calls for help would lessen (ha! can i get an amen people.).. so i’m thankful that my mom also that knows it never will.
for a partner and best friend and husband, who makes me laugh more than anyone, who makes me more upset than any other person other will, yet pushes me to the edge of my comfort zone and gives me the opportunity to be a better me, all while in the wonderful grace of his leading and friendship. i love you james. and for you, little baby boy. you are already our treasure.
above all i’m thankful for jesus, who i’m convinced all these things come from. the one who saves me day by day and who gives me grace to live, learn and be more like him. he is truly great.
happy thanksgiving to you my friends!! you sure are wonderful.
and don’t forget to wear your stretchy pants.
ps i’m making these pumpkin pies this week**
pps **pray i’m not shunned from pumpkin pie duty for years to come. seriously though.

Notes on Autumn

a few of my favorite things about autumn.. 
because we all know that “I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.” well, at least Henry David Thoreau knew it 🙂

+gourds in big baskets, cause they’re gourds. in big baskets.

+feeling that crisp breath of air enter my lungs on an evening walk.

+crock pots full of brewing hot cider at work, smelling up the whole office.

+trips to the punkin’ farms with friends. we know allll the ones that negotiate prices if you’re looking 🙂 we’ve purchased up to 35 pumpkins at once.. so yeah.

+having to wear long socks when i’m lounging around the house again. risky business anybody?

+the pop of a baseball bat because it’s playoff time & i’ve been down-right brainwashed by my husband.

+it will [now] always be the season that i felt my first baby kick in my tummy.

every day in may (a vivid memory of a summer with my family)

okay guys, last day of the blog every day in may series!! i missed it by five days now after making it for the other thirty, h-a (cone of shame!). with good reason maybe as we’ve been uber sick and a computer screen is the last place that sounded fun, but i’m here and ready to seal the deal, tissues and a mug full of throat coat tea in hand 🙂 if you also participated, i salute you. it was an absolutely surprisingly fun exercise, and gave me opportunity to think outside the box. i loved it.
so onto the last day’s prompt (last friday) day 31: A vivid memory

my memory can be both impeccable and completely fallible in the same breath. but the things i remember vividly, i usually never forget. since i’ve officially hit the ‘longing for vacation’ mode that always occurs around late may, early june, i thought i’d go with a memory that’s travel oriented. i think it’s just my habit but after the school season begins gets out, i get achey breaky for a trip. one specifically wonderful memory are the summers we spent in lake tahoe with the entire family.

the night before leaving on a trip was always the most excruciating and exciting for me. we’d fill our bags with all the necessities which, if you ask my mom that meant ‘bathing suit and toothbrush’ or something to that effect. i’d bring all my odds and ends down to her bedroom and ask her to help me roll them all up and after we’d place our bags near the front door, with our pillows balanced carefully on top and the only thing postponing summer vacation was a usually restless night’s sleep!
the next morning we set out on our journey and met rest of the family at a rendezvous point to begin our caravan. and because walkie talkie names were a must, we were golden goose, silver bullet and the green mallard. the drive from the bay area to tahoe is a myriad of panoramas: wide open agricultural fields, sprawled out desert-like dryland and eventually, the crawl up the mountain—where staggering mountain highways where towering pines, mighty oaks and maple trees hover over and crowd the roads, with streams of sunshine peeking through. and finally, after hours of patient curves and twists, nearly six hours of land, an opening seemed to suddenly appear and there, stretching across our windshield, was twelve miles of crystal blue. lake tahoe.
as we rounded highway 89, the main road around the lake, we experienced a pristine view of our water wonderland. boats circling the edges trailing skiiers and wakeboarders alike, far off views of gorgeous emerald bay, lakeside mansions that you’d pay to be a fly on the wall (‘much less a cat!’ says my aunt mary). the walkies start to buzz, cousins giving the ‘roger this’ and ‘roger that’ to one another, sarcastic jokes between siblings and parents, people urgently needing to use the bathroom or another alerting someone to catch a glimpse of the stunning views.
at last, we pull up, we are here. beautiful lake tahoe, tahoe pines to be exact. in a big house for the lot of us. bunk beds, shag carpet, an open sunny deck with a birds eye view of big blue, a lakeside rec center, tennis courts and boat docks just waiting to be explored. a summer vacation playground for any age. playing in the pool doing handstands til our ears ached as mom and her sisters looked on. eating too many ears of hot buttered corn. staying up much too late watching movies giggling with uncle bill and cousin matt. wandering the grounds with mom to people watch. going bowling and getting beat by the boys, except cousin penny who’s in a league.
age barriers faded away and each one of us laughed so hard together. that year was the first time i’d ever felt so connected with my entire family. it was also the first trip we’d taken together since grandma had passed. i didn’t realize it til later, but we all needed a reason to laugh that year, and frankly, we didn’t even need it to be a very good reason.
sharing stories as we each ventured about the lake, marveling together at what a very big lake it was—deep, wide, mysterious, with some places cold as ice, uninhabited with rocky shores, other places were full of life with bright warm sunshine with soft rocky sand beneath your feet. in whatever we did, whether eat or rest or read or watch or hike or play, it was much more than a getaway, it was a catching of our breaths, an overflowing, rumbling, belly-aching laugh and an overflowing joy that settled itself nicely some place deep down in my heart.

image source

every day in may (on ‘letting go’)

you guys!! there are two more days left of this blog every day in may challenge and i might just be at a loss for words when this is all over! you’ll have to bear with me most eee-specially after this month of may is over, who knows if there will be anything left to write! 🙂
today’s prompt is to ‘react to this term: letting go’..
well. i have plenty of things i want to let go of: assumptions, defensiveness, the quest for perfection (blah!), unrealistic expectations on myself and loved ones.. i could think of quite a few more but that last one’s the kicker for me: expectations. for some reason, it’s easy for me to get this firm idea of what things ‘should’ look like in my head. it’s this unspoken ‘thing’ i’m supposed to attain towards. don’t get me wrong, i think we’d all be pretty boring if we lived life without expectations, but when they get to the point of driving me unnecessarily, they become—for me—rather unhealthy.
i think i finally come to the point of realizing it when somebody mentions something in passing. a truly silly example.. i had a sunday meeting we had a few weeks ago that i put on with a friend. i had this idea that at said meeting would need to be a filled to the brim, cooled just so, refreshing jar of sweet tea accompanied by a toppling platter of freshly baked large chocolate chip cookies. you know, as all meetings call for (did i tell you this was a silly example?). 
so on saturday, i went about the day with my many chores as saturday is my wam-bam-thank-you-mam-get-things-done day that by four o’clock i was rather exhausted. just as i was about to head downstairs to start brewing my tea and baking up a storm, james mentioned that we should take it easy the rest of the day since tomorrow would be busy. but the cookies?? but the t-e-a?!? i couldn’t do store bought, no! it was like this ridiculous battle in my mind over meeting treats, that in the long run, people, do n-o-t matter. 
i suppose that’s a silly example of what i mean.
what i mean to say is that instead of living under these silly expectations of myself.. to do what i can do. that what i really bring to the table is who i am, not perfectly baked [with a dash of salt and a triple chocolate entendre] batch of cookies. so here’s to doing what we can! and those expectations of other people? well, that’s a whole other post. i’ll just start with me for now 🙂

every day in may (this one’s about music!)

today’s challenge is to share ‘five songs or pieces of music that speak to you or bring back memories. Use Grooveshark or YouTube to include them in the post’ i had n-o-o-o idea how much i would enjoy this..i never knew how many memories a song would evoke! i look forward to reading everyone else’s entries! if you’re having trouble with grooveshark (i did), i linked the youtube video in the artists name 🙂

being a kid + dancing around the house, gloria estefan was my jam! miami sound machine baby! the sprinklers were on in the backyard, chocolate chip pancakes had just been consumed and the ‘rhythm is gonna get ya’ on in the background 🙂

boston for those long summers in college! summers at the lake, going to the drive-in and all of us squeezing in the back of my pickup, trying to sing at all those falsetto parts.. 🙂 i was a bit of a classic rock nut but boston by far takes the cake for me..

http://grooveshark.com/songWidget.swf

i was/am/will be a faithful coldplay listener for foreeever. i have it all from early released whatnot to acoustic version of this and that, memories of waiting in line for cd releases and arriving to a concerts four hours early and nearly crying afterwards with friends (emotional highschoolers we were and all the lights at their concerts!! i had no idea how emotion lights are!). james shares my love + we decided to have this song in our wedding ceremony (when all the friends walked..i walked to norah jones ‘come away with me’). it gives me this vivid memory of waiting for my cue, the electricity of the moment, waiting for the song to come to end and noticing how quiet it got for that split second before i turned.. love it!

feist is eternally my go-to for road trips and ‘inside and out’ is always on my playlist. this song reminds me of windows down, wind in my hair, hanging out with my sista friend chelsea with the open road in front of me!

http://grooveshark.com/songWidget.swf

dave matthews band (dmb) just brings me right back to my last year in high school! when i hear any of the ‘crash’ album, it takes me back to the spring of graduation and all the emotions of that time. saying goodbye, tying up that chapter of life and marching forward into this new season 😉 i got to see dave live a couple times (one at the greek theater in berkeley.. which was so mid-nineties of us all! i hope i was as grungy as i remember) and carter beauford (their drummer) is such a beast.. we watched him almost the entire time. i’ve never danced so much and sang out so loud before 🙂

ps the picture above is sorta irrelevant to this post, but it’s my mom leading the band down main street at disneyland (they used to do that!!) and it was the only music-centric picture i could seem to find at them moment!