Christmas 2013 Recap

I took a nice long break from blogging (and real life!) over the last couple of weeks and celebrated a wonderful Christmas with my family. Today I'm back in action and although everyone has moved onto New Year's, I'm finally getting around to sharing our Christmas 2013 Recap.

Since my office was closed during the week of Christmas, I ended work on December 20 feeling so ready to welcome the holidays in all of their glory. I spent most of Saturday cleaning, organizing and prepping snacks for a visit from my favorite West Coaster, and my long time bff, Catherine. She was in town for Christmas, and man was it so great to spend a few hours with her! Of course, I didn't get to snap a photo this time, but here's a sweet throwback from my bridal shower back in 2008:

 

As usual, time was too fleeting!

Sunday we headed to Brooklyn for brunch at Kimberly and Nick's apartment. Once again, I was having too much fun eating and mingling to remember to snap a few photos, but I did steal this photo of their beautiful (and enormously tall!) tree. Gotta love apartments with high ceilings!

 

Monday was spent relaxing and doing that last bit of gift wrapping while also making this awesome corn dip for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Again, no photos. Sorry! Just trust me, it was so so good and with a couple of edits, this is my new favorite dip.

Tuesday morning, we were up and out bright and early for our annual Christmas Eve breakfast with my family. My dad started taking us to breakfast on Christmas Eve as kids in order to give my mom some solo time at home to prep for the evening's festivities. Now that we're grown, she joins us. And I was really excited to introduce this tradition to Penelope! 

Lots of Christmas Eve breakfasts in her future, for sure ;)

 

I cannot get over her. Sigh.

After breakfast, we headed back to the house to prepare for the evening. We chopped, plated, decorated and set the tables for a night of food, drink and merriment. 

Of course, Penelope was the belle of the ball.

And her sweet Christmas dress didn't last long...instead, she was in her Santa's Little Helper shirt & leggings in no time.

Though Penelope didn't quite get the whole 'opening presents' thing this year, she did enjoy her fair share of paper (ripping and eating). 

 

We got our first taste of 'put-this-together-right-now' fun, with the whole family cheering us on.

 

Unfortunately, P wasn't so into the put-together version of the toy to actually sit on it and play, but she did admire it from afar.

We also took some photos by the Christmas tree.

Tough to get a good one with a 10 month old in tow.

 

We did manage to get a nice group shot on the stairs:

Late in the evening, Shaun went to church with his family and I stayed behind to relax with mine. Around 1AM, Shaun and I exchanged our gifts. My favorite gift? A new soft and snuggly blanket for our evening couch relaxing. My man knows me so well ;)

On Christmas morning, P actually slept until around 8:00. She then proceeded to actually hug and snuggle with me in bed for a little while.

It was the best Christmas gift I've ever received :)

Once the family was up, we all headed downstairs for leftover cookies, coffee and gift opening.

Santa brought lots of gifts to us all, especially for Penelope.

Note her reindeer feet. #whyarebabypajamasthecutestever

After some relaxing, we got dressed and headed over to Shaun's parents house for Christmas Day celebrations.

Penelope once again received so many generous gifts. That is one lucky girl.

And I, of course, got to dress her in yet another adorable Christmas outfit.

I think I was pictured out by this point, because this is where my photos end. We had a great day with family and headed home late that evening. 

Unfortunately Shaun had to head back to work on Thursday, and I spent the rest of the week snuggling with my little bear. Now it's off to celebrate the New Year! I hope you have a fantastic and safe New Year's Eve...I'll be back in the next couple of days with my hopes for 2014!

xo,

Rachel

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend

Happy Monday friends!

Is it me or is going to work so much easier during the holiday season? I get to guiltlessly have fun creamers in my coffee and listen to Rockin' Holidays radio on Pandora all day. Somehow presentation writing is much more joyful whilst also grooving to Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree.

How was your weekend? Ours was jam-packed and full of holiday fun. Friday night, we ordered in and started catching up on Homeland (we have a long way to go!) while enjoying the Christmas tree. We were in bed by 11 since we had to be up and at 'em bright and early on Saturday.

Saturday morning we headed down to a nativity breakfast at church with Shaun's parents.

Penelope wanted so badly to just be free to roam on her own.

 

She was also enamored by the kids sing-a-long and story time. I know she was dying to be up there with the big kids, but not til next year!

Afterwards, we headed to my parents house for our annual Cannon side Christmas gathering.

Everyone was able to make the trip, despite the snow.

It is always so fun to have part of my dad's side together to celebrate the holidays.

We even matched Penelope with her cousins Taylor and Gabriella for a sweet photo:

That quickly went south...

The kids opened gifts, while the adults ate tons of food.

All in all, it was a great evening!

The next day, we were up and eating bagels bright and early:

And headed home to accomplish a few things and have some family relaxation time. One big item we crossed off of our list was getting a new rug for the living room!

Our old rug got a good wearing over the last 5+ years, and we decided it was well past time to update it. We picked out a nice, bright cream and beige number that not only transforms the space, but also offers a plush crawling surface for a certain someone.

After we laid the new rug and Penelope got a good crawl and tumble on, we put little Miss to sleep and it was finally time for some relaxing in our revitalized space. What's better than food, a lovingly decorated Christmas tree and an iPad Yule log?

 

I hope you all had a great weekend! Can't wait to kick off my last week of work until Christmas break!

 


Eggnog Lattes, Cheesy Things & More

 

Are you a fan of eggnog? I love it, and this year in particular, like the Black Eyed Peas say, I just can't get enough. Today was my second consecutive day of stopping in Starbucks for a grande non-fat eggnog latte. I haven't looked up the calories in that yet, but something tells me that even the skim milk isn't doing me any favors. Ah well, 'tis the season and it only comes around once a year, right?

 

We have a fun weekend of family Christmas gatherings ahead and a little downtime on Sunday for the first time in a very.long.time. I can't wait to just sit by our tree, watch some (bad) football, snuggle with my Sweet P and maybe convince Shaun to watch a Christmas movie or two. 

 

I don't have five things for you today, but some fun links to share instead:

 

This 10 Month Old's Letter to Santa had me crying tears of laughter

 

If you are still feeling broken inside by the Sons of Anarchy season finale, EW has got lots of goodies to mull over (please don't post any spoilers here because my mom, who is a season behind, will kill me...but just know...I'm not over it and I'm with you!)

 

This article tells us the meaning behind your favorite cheese...I don't think I fit into any of these categories, but I do love ALL of these cheeses...is there a cheese for that?

 

Here's 50 Holiday Treat Ideas, in case you are in the market

 

Thanks to BuzzFeed for featuring my Pepperjack & Pimento Cheese Dip in the 25 Cheesy Dips That Will Make You Swoon..I'm particularly swooning over #s 1, 7, 10 & 20.

 

Have a great weekend everyone!

 

10 Months

It feels like I just did an update on P, but here we are another month later.

Penelope is over 10 months old at this point and I swear she is changing everyday day.


I really love this photo of her, just a few days before her official 10 month birthday (on Thanksgiving!)...it so captures her personality right now. Happy, stuffing her little face with food and smiling that enormous, beautiful smile to show off those many pearly whites.

This month brought the full transition to finger foods. When she began flat out refusing to be spoon fed, I silently rejoiced because though letting her feed herself is a little scary (I have an unreasonable choking fear), it is also quite liberating. I really enjoyed cooking and pureeing food for Penelope, but finger food is soooooo much easier and so much fun.

My little cheese doodler

At this point, she is eating just about anything and everything that we eat. This includes mixed veggies, pasta, black beans, sweet potatoes, eggs, turkey, cranberry sauce on thanksgiving, ravioli, bread, bananas, melon, hummus on tiny bits of cracker...essentially anything that I'm eating or snacking on, if Penelope seems interested in it, she gets to try it. In Aruba, we even gave her a little ice cream! Though she made a strange face initially, she opened her piehole right up for more and started whining...it was love at first bite!

In the toy department, P is starting to love her interactive toys. Just this week, she is so enamored with her toy remote control. She is a great solo player...she will sit for quite some time in her playpen and just play with her toys. She also looooooves to jump!



Penelope is also a little crawling machine. She is so active and just wants to be on the go. Time for mom to start baby proofing!

Penelope continues to love Mickey! but we've gotten a small break with Finding Nemo, which she will tolerate.

This month also brought her first big trip - Aruba! We flew on a plane (4.5 hours each way), played in the pool and in the ocean, and went to lots of restaurants.



Bedtime continues to be a challenge (is it ever not, parents? Do these kiddos ever grow out if it?) We finally decided to just let her cry at bedtime and also if she wakes during the night and for the last few days that seems to be working alright.

Daycare continues to go well for us. I do wish that I had a little more time at home with her but we have found a workable groove...for now.

And here we are in her eleventh month. I'm already planning her first birthday party (Mickey Mouse themed of course) and will be sure to fill you in on those details as they develop!

Each day just gets better and better :)

 

For more Penelope updates, see:

1 Week

6 Weeks

3 Months

4 Months

5 Months

6 Months

7, 8, & 9 Months

Weekend + The Holiday Spirit

It's a super snowy morning today and although I had to traipse through it to drop Penelope off at daycare, I still love it. I finally have reason to wear my fancy snow boots. I get to wear a scarf all day and drink copious amounts of tea, and watch the snowfall from my office desk next to 10 ft loft windows. All in all, not too shabby I guess.

This weekend we really got into the holiday groove. It all started on Thursday evening with picking out our Christmas tree! Though it cut into her bedtime, Penelope helped pick out a beautiful first Christmas tree and a poinsettia to boot.  

We decided to downsize a little this year since we have less space with P crawling around, but still fell in love with a 6 ft beauty from the 14th Street Garden Center in Jersey City.



Friday evening, we just couldn't get it up to trim the tree since we were a) completely spent from the week and b) prepping for a weekend of picture taking and cookie baking. Instead we watched an episode of Sons of Anarchy (can't believe the season is almost over...still one of my faves!) and were snoozing by 11.


Saturday we were up bright and early to head out for Penelope's first Christmas photo shoot. It was so sweet and fun and I'll be sure to post the photos when I receive them! Penelope was a champ through the entire thing and all of my anxiety over her sitting still and/or being a cranky butt were put at ease. Tempting fate, we decided to try our hand at seeing Santa that afternoon. I had visions of parking space fights (If anyone has done the Jersey mall scene - esp at Christmas - you know what I mean), mobbed lines, and a crying baby who would ultimately have pooped through her clothes once we got to the front of the line. Luckily, we must've gone at the exact right time - or God was shining down on us - because we easily found a spot, the line was only 5 people deep and Penelope once again was a champ.

 

I was secretly hoping for a crying photo with Santa (does that make me a bad Mom? The woman taking the photos seemed to think so), but she did ok and was mostly only concerned/scared by the woman dressed as an elf who was trying to make her smile. #fail.

Saturday night we headed to my parents house since Sunday was our annual Christmas cookie baking day with my mom! Penelope was enamored with their Christmas tree, as I expected. 

It was fun to have Penelope with us for baking this year, though she did mostly floor sweeping and baby cheese doodle eating while the rest of us carried the hard labor. 

8 batches of cookies later, we were completely spent and headed home in the snow. Sunday and Monday were spent hanging lights and trimming the tree. Times have sure changed since we could get all of that done in one night! 

Just missing its skirt and a topper (that's the final piece for tonight!)

And lastly, I'm excited that we got our Christmas stockings! Shaun and I never got stockings for Christmas (outside of our childhood ones at our parents' houses), and so when I got one for Penelope, I thought the whole family should match. I'll post more pics once they are hung by the chimney TV with care.

So that's how we spent our whirlwind weekend and how we've been getting into the holiday spirit lately.

Are you all decorated for the holidays?

Where do you go to see Santa?

 

What's Your Favorite Christmas Song?

 

I always refuse to begin listening to Christmas music until Thanksgiving night. It's tough, but that allows me to focus on Thanksgiving before letting Christmas creep into daily life for the month of December. Don't get me wrong - I love everything Christmas - but some boundaries are needed, no?

 

My music of choice last year and this year (so far) has been the Rockin' Holidays Pandora station. It plays all of my favorites - modern hits with some classics thrown in. I got to thinking about what my all-time favorite Christmas song is...do you have one?

 

It's tough to narrow down, but I think my ultimate Christmas song is Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. It just embodies everything about the holiday season that I love so much. It makes me simultaneously happy and sad...happy for the joy the season brings to so many and yet also invokes a bit of sadness in its melody and the evocative feelings of loss and emptiness.

 

So what do you think? Do you have a favorite Christmas song?

Happy Thanksgiving! And The Things I'm Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Shaun is cooking appetizers in the kitchen, Penelope finally gave into her nap, and I'm stealing some time away to catch a bit of the parade and write this post before the day really gets going. 

I had a blast keeping my thankful little things over the last month. Thanks to Julie for inspiring this. Of course, I'm thankful everyday for the big things in my life...like health, happiness, my amazing family, my wonderful husband and my beautiful, happy daughter.

 

But it is also nice to appreciate those little things that make me smile each day. And so here we go...

Nov 1: I'm thankful for Pumpkin Spice creamer making my morning coffee completely indulgent

 Nov 2: I'm thankful for five star camping with my in-laws

Nov 3: I'm thankful for truly gorgeous fall foliage in the wee hours

Nov 4: Movember! Shaun is participating, so P and I are excited to cheer him on this month! Personally, I always think a neon mustache scarf makes everything better.

Nov 5: I'm thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the democratic process...voting!

Nov 6: for a glorious 2 hours to myself while Shaun was out and Penelope was sleeping. Mom's night!

Nov 7: for my mom not only driving to JC to watch Penelope, but for dragging a huge box of sternos behind her; we plan to use them for an upcoming party!

Nov 8: I'm thankful for a gorgeous walk to the office and the opportunity to stretch my legs and get some easy exercise each day

Nov 9: I'm thankful for whole berry cranberry sauce. Yes I am.

Nov 10: I'm thankful for so many friends gathering at our annual Sweatsgiving

Nov 11: I'm thankful for leftovers in my fridge...no cooking tonight!

Nov 12: I'm thankful for good TV which shows incredibly attractive men shirtless (I'm looking at you Jax Teller)

Nov 13: I'm thankful for baked cheese and tomato sauce on crostini. what's better than that?

Nov 14: I'm thankful for hugs from my baby and her falling asleep in my arms after being away on business

Nov 15: Starbucks oatmeal...$2.99 well spent on this sleepy, chilly morning

Nov 16: I'm thankful for in-laws who bring dinner while we're knee deep in a packing mess

Nov 17: I'm thankful for a sleepy baby on our flight to Aruba

Nov 18: I'm thankful for the familiar sticky morning heat, stiff breeze, and quiet beach of Aruba that I missed so much

Nov 19: I'm thankful for the genius who thought to use evaporated milk as coffee creamer...would it be so bad to use this in everyday life?

Nov 20: I'm thankful that I purchased all new bathing suits and cover ups for our trip. At least if I'm now in one pieces, I feel fabulous

Nov 21: I'm thankful for unlimited flank steak at Texas de Brazil. #fatkid

Nov 22: I'm thankful for a happy, belly-laughing baby playing in the Caribbean sea

Nov 23: I'm thankful for a glorious week spent in Aruba with my whole family. As my dad says...you can have all the money in the world, but it can't buy you a week of vacation with all of us together

Nov 24: I'm thankful for a smooth and safe (if daunting) airport excursion and flight home

Nov 25: I'm thankful that I don't drive to work...and for once, am thankful for the PATH...this morning it took me 1 hour and 30 minutes to go 20 miles via car

Nov 26: I'm thankful that my Thanksgiving plans don't require travel as all I'm hearing on the news is how everyone's travel plans will be ruined by a huge storm this week. Also feeling sad at the injustice of this for those who are traveling...I hope you all make it home to your loved ones!

Nov 27: I'm thankful for a happy baby, granting me smooth passage through two grocery store stops

Nov 28: I'm most thankful for family.

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!

What are you most thankful for?