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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Let The Holiday Season Begin!

Our Thanksgiving weekend was blissful filled with good food, great times, and fun shopping. After spending a lovely Thanksgiving with my in-laws, I was invited, by two of my newest friends, to go shopping at the Tanger Outlet. We met there at 10 pm, and had a blast browsing most of the stores, stopping at the food court for a late night snack, and finally getting home at 3 am. I took a quick 5 hour nap and got back up to hit Michael's for some amazing Black Friday deals!

Despite the insane crowds at Michael's, I managed to stay true to my challenge, and remained calm, kept a smile on my face, and even chatted with some ladies while waiting in a massively long line. Despite the crowds, every person I encountered seemed to be in just as pleasant of a mood as I was. The rest of the weekend was spent visiting with amazing friends, going out with my friend Jacqueline for a "Girl's Night", and getting out my Christmas decorations.

I love decorating for Christmas, and I love my Christmas decorations! So, I decided to take some pictures and share them with you!

One of the amazing Black Friday deals I got at Michael's was a basic, plain, green wreath for $1.98. Combined with some of my ribbon and awesome bow making skills and VOILA!
This year is the first Christmas that we live somewhere that doesn't have a fireplace, so I decided to hang our stockings on the buffet hutch.
Here is a one sided view of our living room, but if you look closely you can see our Willow Tree Nativity reflected in the mirror.

And the best part is that lovely glow set off by the Christmas tree lights.

I still have to put some tinsel on the Christmas tree, and put up a few more decorations, but our house definitely feels like Christmastime is here. Let the holiday season begin!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

'Tis the Season for Giving

The holiday season is now upon us. Social networks are filled with posts about what deals someone found, what upcoming sales they will hit, what gifts their children are asking demanding  for Christmas. People are actively making their “game plan” for Black Friday as if it’s a sport…ruthlessly, selfishly, and in it to win it. I cannot even begin to name how many times I have been deliberately pushed, shoved, or slammed into by someone else’s cart so they can get the “prize” gift first. For this reason, I actively avoid the “early bird” Black Friday sales where I know the shopping crowd will be brutal. There is nothing I, or anyone I am buying for, need so badly that I must fight for it. That is not what the Christmas season is about for me.
Christmas is a time of giving. I love picking out the perfect gift (this year I am making most of my gifts, but I will write more about that after Christmas!), taking the time to perfectly wrap each gift and tie beautiful bows. For me, the presentation of the gift is just as important as the gift itself. I am not just giving a gift, I am giving all the love, time, and attention to detail I put into wrapping the gift, because most people love getting a beautiful wrapped gift, and I love giving them. I also love giving and receiving the gift of the holiday spirit. Therefore, this year I am challenging myself with a new “game plan” for the Christmas season.

The holiday season can be quite stressful, and a friendly smile and greeting could help brighten someone’s day…even if it’s just for a minute or two. So, I plan to give a friendly smile to every person I see. I will give my patience to impatient shoppers, store clerks, and service providers, and remember to wish them a “Merry Christmas” in a friendly tone. I will give my change to every Santa ringing a bell for charity, even if I only have a few pennies. I will remind myself to be more joyful and forgiving. I will make a point to stop and admire the Christmas lights and decorations that someone spent hours putting up for our pleasure. I will allow myself to enjoy the Christmas music playing in the stores, instead of getting annoyed that they are playing all season long. They are only played once a year after all. Overall, I will try to stress out less, and enjoy the season more, and I truly hope my example will help other's to follow.

Tell Me: What would you like to give this Christmas Season? Do you have a favorite tradition of giving in your family?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sick...And Still Thankful!

This week I am sick. This statement usually garners a lot of sympathy for my husband, as I have been told by many people throughout my life that I am the worst "sick" person. Let me just say I have a very low tolerance for pain and leave it at that. It's hard to be "thankful" when you are confined to your bed for almost a week, but I must remember the lesson from last week and be thankful for the little things.

I am thankful for spending a week with my daughter, Corinne. Even if most of it was spent laying on the couch watching old episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and Doctor Who, napping, and going through endless amounts of tissue and medication.

Yesterday was by far the worst day for me. What do you do when you are too sick to really do anything? Have a Lord Of The Rings marathon of coarse! My amazing husband inflated our twin air mattress, and made me a "sick bed" in the living room so I could rest comfortably while watching (and sometimes sleeping through) LOTR's with Corinne.
I must warn my friend's and family to be seated as they read this next part, because they will probably be quite shocked! Later in the evening I got up enough energy to do a small activity with Corinne. We painted our nails...Pink! That's right! My 19-year old (never a girly girl) daughter, has grown out her fingernails and painted them a lovely shade of salmon pink. I had to take a picture or no one would believe me!
As much as I truly hate being sick, I am very thankful for the time I have gotten to spend with Corinne for the duration of her visit. I am also extremely thankful for my very generous and caring boss, Holli, who allowed me to take the time off work to recover. Without her generosity I would not have had as much time with Corinne, or been able to take the time I need to rest and recuperate!

Friday, November 9, 2012

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

What am I thankful for this week? A birthday filled with some of my favorite things!

Yesterday was my birthday, and it was a wonderful surprise to have a beautiful day with blue skies, and mild November temperatures. My day started with a lovely gift from one of my oldest, and best-est friends... a bottle of wine in a personalized bag sitting on my desk at work.
Having a bottle of wine right in front of me, while I'm at work, and in a celebratory mood, probably isn't a good idea, so I quickly packed it away. I left work early and spent the rest of the day with my husband and daughter. First stop on my list of favorite things...shopping of coarse! Shoe shopping! It must have been my lucky day (well, it was my birthday after all!), because I found a lovely pair of suede T-strap heels in the clearance section at DSW.  With the addition of my $5 off birthday reward certificate it made these shoes a wonderful birthday bargain!
Every fall, since my grandmother was a little girl, it has been a family tradition to visit Michigan's oldest cider mill for the most amazing, 100% pure, apple cider, and cinnamon donuts. Making this trip in the early afternoon meant there were very few people there (opposed to the bustling crowds and super long lines that are quite common at this cider mill!). It was very nice, and peaceful, and with the sun shining we enjoyed our cider and donuts at an outside table.

For dinner we headed Downriver to my favorite Mexican restaurant for the best chips and salsa on the planet! This picture will totally make both of my sister's jealous! 
After dinner we spent a few hours visiting my cousin, Danielle, and her family. It was so nice to just sit around telling (sometimes singing) stories from our childhood. Laughing about the silly things we had made up while playing Barbie's, and old movie's we used watch. It was a fantastic visit!

There were a few more surprises waiting for me when we got home! A mailbox full of birthday cards:
And a single red rose, and one of my new favorite movies, waiting on the dining room table from my loving husband!
This year, I can honestly say that my birthday was a fabulous day filled with lots of love from my family and friends, an abundance of letters, posts, texts, and emails with thoughtful birthday wishes, little surprises, great food, and the joy of laughter. For all this I am truly blessed, and thankful! Perhaps the best way to sum up my feelings on the day is with this sign from Franklin Cider Mill:

Sunday, November 4, 2012

You Have Been Formally Invited

As the holiday season quickly approaches, so too does the party season. Many hours of preparation, consideration, and collaboration go into event planning. For many, hosting an event/party/gathering, is all consuming, taking up every waking (and sometimes sleeping) moment of their lives until the day arrives. The decorations have been hung, the meals prepared, the guests have begun to arrive...but wait! Some of your guests have brought along guests of their own...Uninvited!
This scenario seems to happen a lot more often than it should. Just this week I heard a woman complain that even though she is hosting Thanksgiving dinner at her home, her mother-in-law has taken it upon herself to invite half a dozen additional guests without even asking her daughter-in-law's approval first. There have been many times I have offered to host a party and a guest calls to ask if they can bring other guests. For informal parties, open houses, pot lucks, etc., there is generally an atmosphere of "the more the merrier," but when it comes to "Invite Only" events, it is always best just to assume that the invite list is final.

With the exception of bringing a date, which should always be allowed, it is extremely rude to even ask the host/hostess for permission to bring additional guests. For me personally, upon being asked if a guest can bring additional guests, it puts me into a very uncomfortable position. I do not want more guests than I have already planned for, yet I feel bad saying no. Luckily, my husband never feels bad declining extra guests, so he is always the one who gives the answers to these extremely rude requests.

The fact that you received an invitation means that you have been specifically chosen to attend that event. It is an honor, not an open door! Unless you have been informed that more guests are welcomed, you may bring your date, but leave the rest of your friends at home!

Have you ever had people crash one of your parties? Or, do you always plan open invitation parties? How do you accommodate for unplanned guests who arrive unexpectedly? Have you ever had to turn away additional guests?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I Am Thankful For...My Superman!

Being thankful during the month of November may be a bit cliche` but it is always good to start somewhere. For the month of November I am going to dedicate at least one post a week to something I am thankful for. It will help me reflect more on the positive things in my life, and hopefully enforce a more humble, and grateful frame of mind. I am dedicating the first post to the most amazing man in my life...My Superman...My Husband.

It's all the little things that I am most thankful for. I am not a morning person. As a child I never complained about nap time, and always cried for "5 more minutes" when my mother woke me up for school. Years later, as an adult, I was diagnosed with "Idiopathic Hypersomnia", and now know there is a medical reason for my extreme daytime sleepiness. If left to my own devices, trying to get up, and get ready for work is like trying to make the Hulk take a bath. I am extremely impatient, I lack coordination, I can't remember where anything is, and ultimately end up spending my morning full of rage, and frustration. Take two: In walks my oh so loving, infinitely patient, and nothing less than amazing husband, Ken. Every morning Ken will get up and make my breakfast, pack my lunch, load everything I need into the car, and keep things running smooth and (mostly) on schedule. Each and every morning my husband shows how much I am worth to him, by helping me overcome the most difficult part of my day. For this I am extremely thankful!

Even though my husband has a lot of work to do during the day, he always finds time to log on to chat with me. Ken always makes a point to kiss me as soon as he see's me after work, he buys me little treats (like Dove chocolates or Ben & Jerry's ice cream), and will surprise me with a single red rose every few weeks. He opens doors for me, and other women too, and he holds my hand whenever the opportunity arises. Because we were married on February 1st, we make sure to acknowledge the 1st of every month as mini-anniversaries, and we always try to be the first to tell the other "Happy Anniversary". Sometimes I win, sometimes he wins, sometimes one of us remembers just seconds before the other and steals the win! And yes, today I won! It's a fun game, but a great way for us to recognize and celebrate the gift of our marriage to each other. For all these things I am extremely thankful!

Here is a picture of Ken's wedding ring I had inscribed with "My Superman For All Eternity."
My husband loves philosophy, he spends hours upon hours reading ancient Greek philosophers, Doctors of the Church, and many other great thinkers. I often think...who reads this stuff for fun?!!!...my husband! Because of his dedication to philosophical truth and logic, he is the first person to call me out when I am being ridiculous. He is the one constant in my consistently inconsistent life. Sometimes I listen and take his advice, and sometimes I'm stubborn and stick to my own opinion, but nevertheless, I am extremely thankful to always have his steady and reasonable discourse in my life.
Occasionally I may joke that Ken is my "Saintly" husband. The truth is, he is the one of the most honest, disciplined, dedicated and loyal people I know. He sets an unwavering example by living a life full of integrity, devotion, and strong faith. Occasionally he may joke that marrying me is his "Get Into Heaven Free" pass. I don't argue with that one, because as funny as it is, it also rings of truth.

In a lifetime of chaos, and random bits of drama, Ken came into my life like a warm and gentle breeze, enveloping me with his love, friendship, acts of kindness, and his sound, reasonable mind. There is so much more I could mention...the way he makes me laugh, or knows when I've had a rough day and just need to be pampered...and even though I may not tell him all the time, I am extremely grateful to him, and thankful for him ALL THE TIME!

What are you thankful for in your life right now? Is there something someone recently did for you that you are thankful for? Do you have any little traditions that make you more thankful for those moments in your life?