Decking Our Halls + Our Holiday To-Do List!

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After coming home from traveling over Thanksgiving I was beyond tired. We drove home from northern California and even though I was so tired my excitement to pull out all our Christmas decor took over. I took out our Christmas storage bins and stayed up late decking out our tiny apartment. We have a fake tree which I love. It is tiny and really skinny, but it fits perfect in our home and I love how full it looks once all our ornaments are on it. I have a random assortment of ornaments, but mostly Disney themed ones. I've spent the last 2 years collecting ornaments that I thought Ryan would love. We have a character from all his favorite Disney movies, plus a Raphael Ninja Turtle complete with his own swords. Or 'sworths' as Ryan called them. This year I purchased a new family ornament with Mila on it and a few princess ornaments too for her. My Christmas spirit is extremely strong this year and I am just so excited to do any and all things festive!

We took photos while decorating our tree and they are such treasures. I told Dan that I want that to be a tradition now too. To take family photos while decorating our tree. It was so much fun and I think it would be wonderful to collect and look back at our family growth during such a festive time. Thank you to Dulcet Creative for capturing such a special memory. Also, thank you to Hanna Andersson for the sweet matching jams! Dan warmed up to the idea and I think he looks the best in them ;)

Every year I like to put together a Holiday To-Do list in hopes of doing festive things together as a family and with friends. A few things are yearly traditions, a few things are new ideas, a few are lofty. I think it is fun to put together this list and check things off as we do them. When Mila gets older it will be fun to put together a list with her, she might have some good ideas. I feel like children always have the best ideas or the most extravagant. I know a lot of families do similar things, I encourage you to do this with your own family this year! Happy Holidays friends!

Our Holiday To-Do List

- Bake & Decorate Sugar Cookies w. Friends + Little Ones

- Take a Drive w. Hot Chocolate To See The Neighborhood Christmas Lights

- Dance At A Holiday Party

- Walk Down Christmas Tree Lane

- Visit The Bayleon Mansion, Then Get Ice Cream Afterwards

- Christmas PJ, Donuts And Disney Movie Marathon w. Friends

- Buy Poinsettias And Leave Them On Friends + Family Doorsteps

- Cuddle On The Couch And Watch Frosty The Snowman

- Make Popcorn Balls

- Make And Deliver Homemade Lasagna To Family Members

- Volunteer At CHLA

- Host A Holiday Bake Sale To Benefit Families In Need

- Craft An Ornament w. Mila's Handprint

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Our Happiest Holiday On The Horizon

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Have you ever felt good things coming? The air around you seems thick with sweetness, your body feels light and smiles are easy to come by. Possibly a skip or two might work its way down and out your happy feet? I feel good things coming ...

Since losing Ryan the holiday season has been nothing short of a painful gut punch. Awaking on Christmas morning with the wind knocked out of both Dan and I as we just cried together in bed. The pain so bad it was as if we were losing him all over again, but in slow motion as our past Christmas memories burned within. This year, I was ready for it. I foresaw the pain and I knew what it had in store for me. Knowing now how to handle it all. I stood there near Thanksgiving ready and willing to take on my grief. Though, it never came. I feel deep within my heart a great deal of sadness that this is our third holiday with out Ryan. However, our happiness this time around out weighed the sadness. I feel the four of us together. I look at Mila and tears of joy fall with out abandon. The feeling of gratitude for my life is now the reason I am out of breath … and it feels so good.

This holiday season isn’t wrapped up in a nice bow. Mila isn’t our cure. I wish so badly I could hear Ryan begging for specific Christmas gifts. There will be tears. There will be moments were I will have to sit and just remember Ryan. I will have to give myself some time to grieve, because holidays with out the ones you love are brutally difficult. However, this holiday seems to be laced with sparkle and magic as well! Dan and I graciously get to experience Christmas physically with our child once again. Saying that I am grateful seems like an understatement! No, Mila is not a cure, though she has proven to mend parts of our broken hearts.

The last two holidays with just Dan and I seemed so empty. The first holiday season we escaped to the snow and didn’t even acknowledge Christmas. The second holiday season I was pregnant with Mila and things seemed lighter, except I was 200 pounds and about to give birth any second. ;) It was happier than the first. Now with our third holiday season upon us we are ready to do it all again. Meaning our traditions we started with Ryan. Our traditions we haven’t done since losing him. We are ready to buy gifts, stuff stockings. I’m not kidding when I say I am crying as I just typed that last sentence. The tears of joy are real you guys. And it is weird, I feel Ryan more than I have ever lately. I feel him. I see his smile. He is everywhere. Is it weird to think that he is just as happy as we are? He gets the best of both worlds I’d assume. Christmas with us and Christmas with God himself seems pretty incredible. My boy deserves it all. This year, I will buy Ryan something small. I will wrap it and put it underneath the tree. I don’t know who will physically open it … but he will always have gifts under our tree.

One of my most favorite traditions was getting hot chocolate and driving around this neighborhood that has the most incredible Christmas lights displayed. We would have all the windows down and Christmas music blaring. Ryan used to love it. I can’t wait to take Mila this year! I’m am thrilled to visit Santa for a photo again too! I can’t wait to wrap gifts for Mila. Christmas morning this year will just be wonderful. Our happiest holiday is on the horizon.

I feel good things coming. The air I breath in is sweet and smile inducing. There is a slight skip in my step. I am happy, I get to do Christmas again.

Photos by Dulcet Creative

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Little Sister

Even though our holiday was ambushed. (I still can’t believe we were all terribly sick during our Christmas.) We were lucky enough to have a tiny visitor who came bearing gifts and endless smiles. My little sister Rhiannon came to stay with us while Santa re-modeled her bedroom for Christmas. It was truly a special visit. She mentioned she had been saving up her pennies to buy us Christmas gifts at her school book fair and she even wrapped them herself. It warmed my heart unwrapping these gifts that came straight from the heart. Her gifts were thought out, saved for and purchased out of sheer generosity and love.

After the boys went to bed, the two of us stayed up and watched Twilight, painted our nails and ate Oreos. A total girls night if you will....

Dear Little Sister,

When I was sixteen you came into my life and I couldn't have been more excited. When I used to babysit you, people thought you were my daughter. Some people say we look alike. I used to babysit you a lot when you were very little. I took you to the beach, out for frozen yogurt and shopping. We watched tons of Disney movies...and still do. I can count on you for a good laugh and for a breath of fresh innocence.

Even though I have a little one of my own, I will always be here for you. My son is so lucky to have such a passionate aunt. He loves you. I love you.

Sickmas

Around here we are finally starting to feel normal again. Unfortunately, all the Christmas excitement and preparation lead to a vicious stomach flu bug that ran through our house hitting us one by one. We were unable to do much but lay around. This was our second Christmas as a family and we had high hopes of visiting everyone and exchanging gifts...only to be blindsided by this nasty sickness.

I can tell you one thing...having the stomach flu with one bathroom equals true love. Dan and I can brave anything together at this point, because after this we have seen each other at our worst. YUCK!

We did try to make the most out of our pathetic holiday by opening gifts we got each other and watched ELF. However, I think it is safe to say we want to forget Christmas 2011 and move on.

I am now tackling the Mount Everest of laundry we have and using Clorox to disinfect our entire house. Other than Ryan's new toys there is no sign of Christmas here anymore.....see ya next year buddy! Hopefully on healthier terms.

I will spare you pictures of Dan and I. We both look like train wrecks.

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Ryan's First Santa Photo

I think it is safe to say Ryan did not approve of sitting on Santa's lap this year. I can't blame him, as he has never seen this Santa dude before and now is all of sudden supposed to sit there and above all smile.

I really didn't expect him to have a holiday melt down as loud and dramatic as it was though....so awkward.

Ryan is still traumatized. We know because even when he sees a picture of Santa he starts to whimper like a hurt puppy. "oooo no! Not this guy again!!! RUN!"

Oh well! We bought the picture of our screaming child and went to eat dinner. All is still 'merry and bright'. We haven't decided if we will visit Santa again next year......Maybe.

Christmas Wish - Dessert Feature

The full dessert table. All desserts made by me!

The full dessert table. All desserts made by me!

Remember my cake mistake a few weeks ago? Well I finally get to show you all the beautiful outcome!

I am still so freaking excited that I was able to team up with some seriously talented girls and pull off this gorgeous Christmas Party set! This photo shoot is showcasing A Blissful Nest and her incredible 'Christmas Wish' party printable collection. {Thank you Rebekah for asking me to do the dessert...such.an.honor!}

Here are some of the crazy good photos....to read the full feature on Celebrations At Home click here!

Peppermint white chocolate cake pops! Festive vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream. Cake decorations made with fondant.

Peppermint white chocolate cake pops! Festive vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream. Cake decorations made with fondant.

Vanilla Cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes

My homemade peppermint marshmallow pops!

My homemade peppermint marshmallow pops!

Oh Christmas Tree

This past weekend we decided to head out and find our Christmas tree and capture it all on Instagram...{Picture Dan rolling his eyes here}

I love getting a real Christmas tree because of the smell. I don't think I could ever get a fake tree, since going out and getting a real one has been a tradition since I was a little girl.

However, for all you out there with a fake tree and a pine scented candle...please feel free to laugh at me as I vacuum endless pine needles from my carpet, in attempt to keep my child from eating them off the floor.

Last year, since Ryan was just 3 months we opted for a teeny rosemary tree. We hung one ornament on it. We were in the Christmas spirit, but our house had no such decor.

This year I am determined to 'Let It Snow' up in here....starting with this tree!

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After we found our tree we went out for some tacos and dessert!

After we found our tree we went out for some tacos and dessert!

In the evening when our Christmas tree is lit will forever be my favorite.

In the evening when our Christmas tree is lit will forever be my favorite.