Monday, December 27, 2010

And So This Is Christmas

The aftermath:

And that's not even half of it.  There are bags stuffed with wrapping paper and bows, boxes piled on top of one another in our entryway, and instruction manuals littering the island of our kitchen...but all of this mess means that we had a great Christmas. 

It began with my side of the family on Christmas Eve.  We first made a stop at Mamaw's house. (Big Mamaw to Ava...not because my grandma is large; it just means she's a great-grandma...)  Ava wasn't quite interested in her present at first because at Big Mamaw's house there are porcelain cat figurines and china teacups to play with, but we talked her into it.

The first of many dolls this Christmas, but Ava has quite a preference for whatever gift Big Mamaw gives her.  Last year she received a soft dolly with a rattle inside it, and she's slept with it ever since.  This year, it's a doll that sits in a high chair and "eats" food from a spoon, all while making chewing noises or saying "Mama" or crying.  It's a pretty creepy doll to us adults, which of course means Ava loves it. 

Christmas Eve is always spent at my Great Aunt Florence's house, where we pile into her small kitchen and feast upon ham sandwiches, hot wings, potato salad, deviled eggs, chips and dips, desserts...and the traditional punch that is only made on this night.  We fill our plates, eat, catch up with one another, and then open presents, which this year meant crowding around Ava while she opened presents.

Tasmanian Devil...or a blur of toddler-present-opening frenzy?

Christmas Eve was extra special this year because my brother spent the night with us.  In the past, Jeremy and I have gone back to my moms after the family get-together to hang out with her and Matt.  We'd sit up talking and laughing until midnight.  Now that Ava is here and needs to get her beauty rest in her own crib, it's a lot harder to do that.  So Matt came to us!  We put Ava to bed, cracked open a few beers, made some French fries in the oven, and played some old school Nintendo games on the Wii.  It was the perfect way to end Christmas Eve night.

Christmas morning was a flurry of activity, from brewing coffee - in my new Keurig, I might add! - to making pancake souffle to waking Ava up and finally letting her see what Santa had brought.

Eventually we made it out of the house and headed to Mom's for more presents and some lunch.

And no, Ava isn't in a special Christmas outfit...she has one, but slacker Mama (me) forgot to buy her some black shoes to go with it.  It's a gorgeous dress too, from Maw, all pink and black satin plaid with a pink sweater to top it off...I will have to put Ava in it and get some pictures!  This year though, because of the lack of shoes and since we were traveling to North Manchester later that day, I opted for comfort over style.  Ava didn't care anyway!  She rocked her jeans, pink boots and purple long sleeved tee.

Lunch was a quick affair, and then we were off for Jeremy's family Christmas up north.  There were presents galore, a house full of family, and plenty to eat.  Ava thoroughly enjoyed every minute!

Now we are left with the aftermath and it'll take us all week to clean up the mess.  It was well worth it though!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ode to Christmas Break

Christmas break is upon us, and with it comes much fun
We'll bundle up beside the fire instead of lying out in the sun
The snow falling gently outside reminds us all
To celebrate the season, the big things and the small

The first day of break was spent shopping for some toys
Shelves were stocked high with goodies for little girls and boys
We scanned the aisles quickly and proceeded to fill the cart
Taking Ava with us might not have been so smart...

The second day of break dawned cloudy and gray
But nothing could take my good mood away
Ava and I spent a lot of time running up and down our halls
Playing with crayons, books, blocks and dolls

It was a Sunday, of course; note the Colt's jersey
Ava was supporting the team, as you can see
She even helped her little baby doll get into the spirit
By picking out a blue diaper, and trying to put her in it

The rest of the day passed by in ways you make think are mundane
But playing with my daughter is sometimes what keeps me sane
She is always so busy, and her imagination runs wild
Times like this make me realize I am lucky that she is my child

Day three and four of Christmas break have passed by so quick
Spending time with family and friends has been my number one pick
I've neglected the house; the decorations are nowhere near done
There are boxes everywhere, but I'd rather be out having fun

My camera has been by my side, as you can clearly guess
But I will not show you the state of my house; you don't want to see the mess!
Instead I have focused on the little details this year
Taking these pictures has given me great cheer

There are still lots of days left of my Christmas break
Time to wrap presents and hang stockings and bake
I love this time of year, and wish it lasted a long time
But I'll take what I can...and look on the bright side!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Getting Out of a Funk

After Thanksgiving, a funk settled into my brain.  Just up and moved in with suitcases full of blahs, a few tears and an "I don't care" attitude.  The highs and lows of the holiday season are felt by many, but the "norm" in society is to be happy this time of year...and usually I am.  But for some reason the stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed longer than ever and it took all I had each day to get up and go to work.  That funk would not go away.  Oh, I tried.  I tried focusing on the fun parts in life - aka the weekends, where a new adventure with an almost-two-year-old was always waiting.

The weekends were like putting a band-aid on a cut.  The bandage covers it up, shields it from further harm, and - slowly - helps it to heal.  But take that band-aid off and it's a constant reminder, staring you right in the face.  I tried to suck the life out of each weekend and live in the moment.  Moments such as Ava chatting with old men or playing with her cousins...

I threw myself into photography, even snatching up a private lesson with Jonathan Hawkins, the Indy Photo Coach photographer who I've taken classes from and HUGELY admire.  We did a lesson on portrait lighting at his home studio - which is totally drool worthy to me.  Ava's favorite babysitter, Lindsey, agreed to be my model.  This session definitely was a step in the right direction for getting out of my funk.  That funk up there in my head started packing its bags, that's for sure.

But the best way to send my funk packing was to spend a weekend with Julie.  You may remember her from the Jersey Top 5 post.  One of our favorite things to do together is visit wineries, so on Saturday we did just that, and what a cure for a rainy, cloudy day!

Spending the weekend with your best friend and watching her love on your daughter as if she were her own...priceless.  Ava took right to Julie as well, calling her Juju and Jewel, following her around and giving her tons of hugs.  Now if that isn't a mood lifter, I don't know what is!

Julie and I were even able to sneak in a girl's night out with my good friend Holly.  The three of us bonded over Thai food, classy drinks at The Ball and Biscuit...and of course a late-night run to Taco Bell.  Friendship, food and fun - and not to mention the last weekend before winter break - finally did it for me.  Funk...gone.

I'm in a better mood than ever now, as tomorrow is the last day with students before winter break, it's supposed to snow, I've got plans this weekend - and Christmas is just over a week away.  I'm ready to enjoy the "highs" of this season: shopping, snowflakes, perhaps a fire in the fireplace, and tons of get-togethers with family and friends. 


See you later, funk.  'Tis the season now, and I'm ready to enjoy it!