The Holiday Bucket List

I shared about our holiday bucket list and what we had accomplished so far a couple of weeks ago. We decided to go this route this year instead of an activity advent calendar, and I’m so glad we did. It was very laid back, easy to keep up with, and I didn’t put a ton of pressure on myself to cross everything off. I was all about enjoying this holiday season in whatever way I was in the mood to do, and I wasn’t about to force myself to do an activity I didn’t want to – I figure we have plenty of years of doing crazy holiday things for Monster ahead of us, so this was one of our last chances to have a very relaxed holiday season.

Now that December’s over, here’s where we ended up with our list.

- For our “top 5″ from the year, we decided to each write down the top five moments or memories from 2013 and toss them in our little memory jar. We opened it up on New Years Day, and it was so much fun to relive all of the highlights from the year. I’m so glad we did this jar, because I loved looking back and reading all of the little moments we jotted down as they happened. I don’t know that we’ll do it again for 2014 – we weren’t very good about keeping up with it – but it was very fun to try out!

- Corey took me on a surprise date to our favorite movie theater a few days before Christmas – I had no idea what I was in for until we arrived, but we were going to see a sneak peek of the new season of Downton Abbey! It was a free event put on by our local PBS station, and it was so much fun. We got to watch the last 45 minutes of the last season finale (and I bawled and bawled all over again), then we got to watch the entire season premiere for this season. It got me really pumped for the new season and I can’t wait to start watching it in a few weeks when it comes out!

- We baked tons (and tons) of cookies in the days leading up to Christmas. It’s a yearly tradition for us to do two rounds of cookie baking – one to give to friends at work and one to bring to my Grandmother’s for Christmas Eve. It was, as usual, a blast and one of my favorite parts of the holiday.

- Our attempt at a family photo this year was a major flop. The dogs are getting harder and harder to corral now that there are three of them (last year Hadley was still a puppy and relatively easy to hold still), so this was the best “family photo” we managed. Ah well, it was worth a shot right? I think we decided that starting next year we’re kicking the dogs out and it will have to be a humans-only family photo – it’s just not worth the stress!

- In addition to playing a ton of Marbles (what my family calls it – I’m sure it has a more official name) over the holiday season, we also tried out a new game for our game night. Corey got a super nerdy new game for his birthday a few months back (called Munchkin) and hadn’t ever really had the chance to play it. It’s supposed to be a game played with more than 2 people, but the directions are like 7 pages long and super confusing, and I’ve been afraid to play it with him (or ask anyone else to play with us) because I was convinced it would be awful. One night, though, we decided to try it out just the two of us to see if we could get the hang of it, and it was FUN! It took a while to learn, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it (although, I’ll warn you, it’s DEFINITELY nerdy!) – we ended up spending a few nights earlier this week playing it, and now we’re excited to introduce it to some other people so we can actually play with the proper amount of players. So,  I can definitely say we were able to cross “game night” off our list!

There were a few things we didn’t get around to this season – we never watched The Grinch (sad!) or went to look at Christmas lights. We also skipped having a picnic under the Christmas tree, mostly because at 8 1/2 months pregnant, the last thing I want to be doing is sitting on the floor. We didn’t have our “No technology day” this year, mostly because we want to do it on a day where we can actually leave the house and do fun things (it’s hard to spend the entire day at home without resorting to the television or our computers), but thanks to budget constraints (prepping for a baby is expensive, y’all!) we spent most of our break at the house and decided to pass on a big day out of the house where we might spend a lot of money! And, we haven’t eaten s’mores or gone out for ice cream yet, but we still have a few days left in our break and I think we may be able to accomplish at least one of those before we head back to work!

What did you want to accomplish this holiday season? Did you cross everything off your bucket list?



December Bucket List

For the past few years, Corey and I have done an activity advent each December in order to ensure that we do some fun, Christmas-y things in the days leading up to the 25th.

Last year, we had an activity for every day in December – it was a blast, but some days we felt pressured to do the activity, even if we didn’t have time, and we didn’t get to do a lot of the activities because the weather didn’t corporate (for example, it was 80 degrees on the night we were supposed to light a fire!). So, this year I decided to just create a general bucket list for the month instead – it accomplishes the same purpose, but is a little more flexible. We can pick and choose which days we do different things, and we can cross out multiple items in a night/skip some nights if we aren’t feeling it.

So far, it’s been great – we’re feeling the Christmas spirit, but we aren’t stressing out about getting it all done. In the end, the purpose is just for us to have fun, so we don’t want to worry too much about actually crossing all of them off…as long as we feel like we get the most out of our holiday season, I’m happy!

I really enjoyed updating on our activities last year when we did this, so I figured I’d do the same this year – this week I’ll share everything we’ve crossed off the list so far this month, and next week I’ll try to pop back in with a quick update on the other things we accomplish. Hopefully we’ll get all (or most!) of them done by the 31st.

The above photo was taken earlier in the month, so we’ve actually knocked off a few more items since then – in addition to what you see crossed off, we also:

- Had breakfast for dinner
- Made gingerbread houses
- Went out to eat

We’ve had several fires already this year – we had quite a cold spell earlier this month, so our fireplace was basically always going.

We also have watched our fair share of Christmas movies already – we’ve been in the mood for cheesy Hallmark-y movies, so we’ve been streaming some of them from Netflix and basking in the incredibly cliche plot lines. They’re definitely not high-quality movies, but they make you happy every once in a while, you know? Of course, the dogs are loving all the movie watching – it means more cuddles on the couch for them!

We also did gingerbread houses with my family this past weekend. It’s turned into a yearly tradition and I LOVE it. It’s so much fun and has definitely become one of my absolute favorite nights of the whole Christmas season.

This week is the last week for both of us before our Christmas break, and we’re hoping to cross a few more things off the list throughout this week and over our two week break. It’s been a super stressful past few weeks at work for me, so I’m counting down the minutes until work is no longer a worry and I can start truly enjoying the rest of my holiday season!

What do you like to do in the weeks leading up to Christmas? Anyone else have a bucket list going?

Deck the Halls

If you were around for Christmas last year, then you’ll probably remember that Corey and I take a very subtle, “less is more” approach to Christmas decorating.

…or not.

Let’s be honest: I’m not happy if it doesn’t look like Christmas exploded all over my entire house, and there is no such thing as “too much” when it comes to Christmas decorations. I grew up in a house where we had flannel Christmas sheets, an attic full of Christmas decor, and there was a period of time where my parents had a Christmas bedspread, so let’s just blame it on genetics. I absolutely adore Christmas, and nothing makes me happier than going all-out in making my house filled with Christmas cheer.

There is just something so incredibly special to me about pulling out the same Christmas decorations every year and filling up our house with these sparkly, happy pieces that make me feel like it’s truly, finally, time for Christmas. We also have a bit of a problem when it comes to buying new Christmas decorations (as in, we can’t stop doing it) so we’re constantly adding to our collection. As of now, we only decorate the first floor of our house, but someday I can promise you the entire house will be full of Christmas cheer. Just you wait.

One of my favorite parts of our Christmas decor is our Christmas village. I always adored the villages at my grandparents’ and my parents’ houses growing up, so it was important to me that Corey and I start one of our own. When we first moved into our house it was pretty pathetic, but we’ve added to it over the last couple of years (and have been given pieces for it as gifts every year), so now it’s definitely looking full. It is fun to look back on the progression of our little village and how quickly it’s grown – here it was the first year we lived in our house…

 And last year…

And this year.

Yeah. Like I said, we have a problem. We add one house to it every year (and have been given a few along the way), and this year we added the little schoolhouse – as of this year we are both officially teachers, so it felt like a pretty big milestone!

Nothing makes me happier than coming down the stairs every morning and seeing how cheerful our house is, and I’m sad the Christmas season is so short this year so I can’t enjoy it as long as I’d like. But while it’s up, I’m going to soak up every last ounce of Christmas spirit I can!

What’s your approach to Christmas decorating? Do you keep things simple or are you as crazy as we are?

4th of July Fun

I have to admit, Corey and I kind of struggled last week to make the 4th actually feel like a holiday. We didn’t have any parties or picnics to go to, and since we’re both teachers and it’s the middle of summer, it wasn’t like we were enjoying an unusual day off.

But, it’s still technically a holiday, so we knew we had to do something. We decided to make waffles when we woke up to start off the day – we haven’t been making big breakfasts lately, so that right there was almost enough to make the day feel special.

Most of our day was just a typical summer day – we lazed around, did some cleaning, watched an absurd amount of television, and just relaxed. But around dinnertime we headed out to a local 4th of July festival with Hadley in tow – we love an excuse to take her places, and she loves getting out of the house. We don’t even attempt to take our other dogs anywhere – Cullen would spend the whole time trying to jump up on everyone, and Ranger would be a nervous wreck. Hadley’s our only super friendly, easy to approach dog – which is a good thing, because she was quite a popular attraction at the festival – we had a few people come up and say hi and chat with us. It’s always fun to have her with us for that very reason – we actually get to chat with people we don’t know, which we normally probably wouldn’t do!

We hung out at the festival for dinner (Hadley and I split a barbecue sandwich!) and then headed back to the house for fireworks. We thought about sticking around and watching them at the festival, but we hadn’t been smart enough to bring chairs or a blanket to sit on, so we weren’t super comfortable, and it was about 9 million degrees out so we were ready to get back to the air conditioning.

We waited until it got dark outside, then we climbed up on the roof to watch the fireworks. We only live about a mile from where the festival was, so we had an awesome view of the show. It felt pretty silly and special to be hanging out on the roof for the show – definitely not something we do every day! – so it helped the day feel a lot more like a holiday.

Of course, we felt pretty bad when we came back in and realized how terrified our dogs were. Cullen is not a fan of fireworks, and the poor baby was shaking like a leaf. We grabbed him and the other dogs and headed into the garage where it was nice and quiet, and settled in to watch some television until the fireworks died down – it definitely helped everyone chill out a bit!

Of course, the fireworks kept going off long into the night – I’m always shocked by how inconsiderate other people are about stuff like that – I seriously think they were still being lit long after midnight! All in all, though, I think we did a good job of making the day actually feel a little different than usual, and we still got plenty of relaxing in, which is always important for a summer day.

What did you do this Fourth of July?

Mother’s Day Brunch

It has become a bit of a tradition for our family to have a Mother’s Day brunch at my house every year. My sister and I cook and everyone comes over to hang out, eat entirely too much, and just be together.

We had an awesome spread this year, and I always have so much fun when we have a big group over for a meal…I love utilizing my giant table!

Perhaps my favorite part of the spread? The make-your-own-mimosa bar. I probably could have had a liquid lunch, if you know what I mean.

But, um, I didn’t. There was plenty of food consumed.

What did you do for Mother’s Day this year?