Hello 2019!

Even though I can still hardly believe it, we’re in a brand new year, here, folks!

January to December 2018

I didn’t get around to blogging as much as I wanted to at the end of the year, mainly due to all of the crazy, hectic, and awesome holiday and family activity that happened in the final weeks of 2019… coupled with the most awful, terribly, horrible, no good cold that I’ve been battling for ETERNITY (or at least, like, 10 days now!).

So, yes, the sickness is tres lame, but at least our holiday was great! My whole family spent over a week down at my sister’s house in the greater Atlanta area, and although there’s really nothing chill about a household filled with 8 adults, 5 kids 5-and-under, and 5 dogs, it was still a relatively low-key and very pleasant holiday.

Sean and I actually survived the drive down to Atlanta with Penny and the three dogs (our two + my brother’s) okay, although traffic getting out of the DC area put a serious crimp in our style and added a few extra hours to the trip, so we ended up stopping overnight around Charlotte and finishing the drive the following day. Not what I was hoping for, but all’s well that ends well!

I had made the heinous mistake of agreeing to run a Christmas Eve 5K with my sister and one of her friends a few months ago, and while I’d been kinda-sorta training a wee bit, I definitely overestimated my abilities, lol. It was NOT my best showing. But, whatever, I did it, and it was the first run I’ve completed in I can’t even tell you how long, so even though it was a horrifying showcase of my complete lack of stamina and cardiovascular abilities, I’m still, like, kinda proud? Idk.

Anyway, everything after that was pretty much smooth sugary, Christmas-tastic sailing — cookie decorating, Christmas-movie-watching, gingerbread-house making, carol-singing, cooking, eating, playing with the kiddos, taking innumerable photos of everyone, and constantly wearing matching EVERYTHING… pretty much all my favorite things!

After the rest of my family returned home, Sean & I capped off our visit with a trip to the Georgia Aquarium with my sister, nieces, and nephew.

Yeah, I wasn’t gonna pay $30 for this picture, but it’s the only proof we got of all of us being there together hahaha.

It was actually kind of an insane thing to do, considering we went on the SATURDAY of a holiday weekend (before New Year’s), and like, every other person who lives in Georgia also decided to the do the same. But despite the crowds it was a great time nonetheless. We got to see the dolphin show, which I’ve never actually seen despite having visited the Aquarium twice before, and Penny was super fascinated by the underwater tunnel.

And thankfully, our drive home was pretty smooth and uneventful! It went much quicker than the drive down since we hit absolutely no traffic, and the dogs were really well-behaved on the way back. It was a little bit trickier since most of our trip down was at night, after Penny’s bedtime, and this time it was mostly during the day. So Penny didn’t really nap as much as I was hoping, but I think I still way preferred driving during the day. Even with her being awake, she’s such a good little kid, she didn’t protest too much until we were almost at the end — we definitely got lucky!

But, alas, being home hasn’t been all that wonderful since, as I have mentioned like 1032849 times, I’ve been sick aaaand it’s definitely thrown me for a loop. ‘Cause I mean, you know, being sick sucks on its own, but it sucks doubly when you’re just coming back from a huge break from work and trying to figure out how to get back on the horse there, and then it sucks TRIPLY when you throw a tiny human into the mix… but! I’m trying to claw myself back to a place of normalcy — both health, work, and routine-wise. Our suitcases are 100% still sitting on the floor of our bedroom, totally still packed, and I’ve basically gotten nothing but the bare minimum done since our return from Georgia, but hey, there’ll be time, right?

I’m holding out hope for a magical burst of productivity and energy once I’m really feeling better — which is why I’m waiting to watch Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix until I’m feeling better too, because I’m counting on becoming possessed by the house purging spirit and want to get rid of our entire household of stuff as soon as I queue up the first episode. *fingers crossed*

Anyway, I hope that you all had an awesome holiday, a wonderful end to your year, and are jumping into 2019 with a sense of excitement, resolve, and/or contentment! I’m hoping to be able to hold onto all three sentiments as we move into this new year… we’ll see!

100 Days of Penelope!

Penny is 100 days old today!

Penny is one-quarter Chinese (from my side) and one-quarter Korean (from her dad’s), and both cultures consider reaching the 100-day mark a milestone to be celebrated! There are several traditional reasons for this, some slightly more morbid than others (in the olden days it was a cause for celebration whenever a baby survived this long), and some nice and merry (representing the wish that the baby will live to be 100 years old!).

Either way, I just love any reason to celebrate and dress Penny up (because I don’t dress her up in outfits every single day anyway or anything, hehe.)

Happy 100 days, little love! They’ve been the greatest 100 days we could’ve ever imagined! Being your mom is the absolute best, and I’m so excited to see what the next 100 days — and the 100 after that, and after that! — bring!

I’m soaking up these last few days before I’m back at work (next week!), and while I’m excited to get back into the swing of things work-wise, it’s definitely bittersweet as I’m going to miss being able to focus 100% of my time and attention on this little bean. That said, I’m so incredibly grateful for the flexibility that my job offers, as well for as my wonderful parents and mother-in-law, allowing me to maximize my time with her even when I’m back to the daily grind.

And so it goes!

My Favorite Holiday Flicks

Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year. I mean, first of all, it takes place right smack dab in the winter season (I’ve already gone into detail about why I love winter). And the Christmas season just brings with it so many other joyous things: peppermint lattes, festive headwear, twinkle lights, sugar cookies, Christmas music, Christmas movies, the ability to wear glittery eyeshadow all the time without being judged, etc. It also just generally seems to make the world seem like a happier, more loving place — which, after this dumpster fire of a year so far, we need.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that there are still lots of terrible things that happen on a daily basis, things cannot be covered up with a sprinkling of snow and sugar. But, still, I do feel like there’s something… I dunno… unifying in the air around this time of year. I tell ya, it must be that holiday spirit! People are just a little nicer. More likely to hold a door open. Leave a bigger tip. Return a warm smile.

And so, I revel in it. From the Day After Thanksgiving until December 26th, I am totally, 100% that girl. I wear my Santa hat relentlessly. I have my car radio always set to 97.1 (the holiday music station here in the DMV). I bust out my holiday sweaters, move anything with even a semblance of sparkle at the front of my closet, and soak in the sights, scents, sounds, and scenery of Christmas.

Of course, since I work from home and am pretty much just a crazy schnauzer hermit 75% of the time, a lot of that holiday scenery takes place inside the frame of my television set. I freaking LOVE Christmas movies, and in case you have yet to jump headfirst into the world of holiday movies, I thought I’d put together a handy-dandy list of what I consider to be must-watches every December.

Elf

It should come as no surprise to anyone that my absolute favorite Christmas movie is Elf. Just like smiling, Elf is my favorite. Despite Zooey Deschenel’s unfortunate hair color choice, the movie never fails to delight. Top moments include: the jack-in-a-box scene (kills me every time!), Buddy’s breakfast spaghetti, “Franciscoooooo,” Mr. Narwhale, and, man, there really are basically too many to list. I effing love Elf.

The Holiday

Second on the list is The Holiday. I feel like it’s a consistently underrated holiday film, but is a really charming romantic comedy that isn’t actually overtly Christmas-y. Also, the score by Hans Zimmer is really just fantastic — it’s worth watching for the score alone.

The Family Stone

Family is everything, man. The Family Stone has some heavier moments (as well as a couple of cringe-worthy moments involving SJP’s character), but its overall message about the importance of family really resonates with me. Plus, it’s got just the best cast (Rachel McAdams! Dermot Mulroney! Diane Keaton! Claire Danes!) , as well as plenty o’ Christmas.

Rent

You might not really think of Rent as a “Christmas movie,” but it definitely counts in my book, as it both starts and ends on Christmas Eve (a year apart). And c’mon, this movie’s got everything: love, friendship, music, irresponsible bohemian living, AIDS… what more could you ask for in a Christmas movie? 😉

Just Friends

I actually had forgotten that Just Friends takes place during Christmas until I rewatched it on Netflix recently. I had also forgotten how hilarious it is (once you get past some of the cringiest parts.) Ryan Reynolds singing All 4 One in a fat suit is comedy gold, as is basically everything that Anna Faris does in the movie. And everything Ryan Reynolds does… ever… in his whole life. (I love him.)

Love, Actually

I feel like this is probably at the top of the charts on many people’s holiday movie list, and I do continue to love it. However, the more times I watch it, the more I have to suspend my disbelief about, well, most of it (like, what kind of irresponsible record label doesn’t record a Christmas album until 5 weeks before Christmas!?), and also, it makes me kind of sad because Alan Rickman is no longer with us. Still a classic one tho.

The Santa Clause

Tim Allen. Adorable child elves. ‘Nuff said.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Nothing puts your life in perspective like experiencing a crazy alternate universe where you never existed.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

I can never really decide if this is a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie, so I usually end up watching it during both. I mean, what fills your heart with more Christmas joy than singing along to “Kidnap the Sandy Claws”?

I’m sure there are tons more movies that I’m forgetting (as well as some I’ve left off the list purposefully… I’m looking at you, Home Alone), but this sums up the movies that are on my mind as of late. Of course, we can’t totally ignore all the cheesy Lifetime movies that pop up on Netflix during this time of year. I don’t consume tooooo many of them, but in my lust for all things Christmas-related, I haven’t been able to avoid them completely. So here are the ones I’ve watched and have actually kinda enjoyed so far this season:

Christmas in the City — starring Ashley Williams (Victoria from How I Met Your Mother), it’s a cutesy movie about a single mom trying to save her family business over the holidays. Ashanti stars as the villainess and does a truly heinous acting job.

A Christmas Kiss — this one caught my eye because it stars Brendan Fehr of Roswell fame. It doesn’t do anything to reinvent the wheel, but it’s cute enough.

A Christmas Star — I don’t actually think this one is a Lifetime movie, but I found it randomly on the ‘flix all the same. Set in a small town in Ireland, it’s a very family-friendly tale of a little girl trying to save her town (sort of.) The movie is actually not super duper Christmas-y, and I enjoyed all the Irish accents.

Anyway, there you have it! What holiday movies am I missing? Leave a comment with some of your favorites!

Also, just as an update for those of you who don’t follow me on social media, I chopped off all my hair:

It might not have been the best idea warmth-wise, considering the weather’s just getting chillier and chillier, but what can I say? I got bored and wanted to look considerably cooler than I actually am. 😉

I’m really looking forward to the week ahead! My sister and nieces are coming into town Thursday, which is also my brother’s birthday, AND is the night that Rogue One gets released, so it should be a full day of fun stuff. I’m also throwing an ice cream social-style event tonight (it’s never too cold for ice cream!), I have my work holiday dinner on Wednesday, and have a Christmas party and a baby shower this weekend. Love this time of year!

My Favorite Season

The temperature in DC keeps plummeting, the days keep getting shorter, and we’ve even got a forecast for snow on the horizon. So it’s not surprising (especially given today’s wet, gloomy, sunless weather) that I’m seeing a lot of posts from folks proclaiming their hatred for the winter season.

And hey, I get it! It’s cold, it’s dreary, it’s cold, your skin gets dry, there’s less sunlight, it’s cold… well, you see where I’m going with this. But maybe it’s because I’d rather take being cold every time over being too hot, or maybe it’s because I lived in Canada for several years of my life so the winters here just don’t seem so bad, or maybe it’s because winter is the setting of both beginnings of my love story (Sean and I had our first date and got married in January), but I just really love winter.

I love the feel of crisp, dry winter air hitting my cheeks every time I step outside.

I love curling up under a knit blanket and watching holiday movies–good and bad–with my husband.

I love the scent of apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, peppermint, and sugar that float through my house whenever I’m baking. And by “baking”, I mean when I’m lighting candles that smell like all those things, of course.

I love curating my holiday playlists and listening to nothing but Christmas music from the day after Thanksgiving on. And the Hamilton Mixtape, duh.

I loooooooove Christmas lights.

I love the tastes of apple cider, eggnog, and peppermint. Predominantly emanating from my Starbucks cup.

I love the excuse to wear my Santa hat nonstop for a month. And I love the fact that when I do, people smile in response more often than they roll their eyes.

 img_1798
And most of all, I love snow. It’s my most Lorelai Gilmore-esque quality. I love the crispness in the air when it’s about to snow. I love how watching it fall from the sky still seems like magic. I love the way it covers up the ugliest parts of winter to make it all seem fresh and new again.

Even when there’s over 30 inches of it… on my wedding day… I still love it. That’s how you know it’s love.

And okay, yes, of course there are lots of not-so-great things about winter, too. People really suck at driving in the snow, and even when you’re kind of good at handling snowy roads, the icy ones can still get ya. The weather can get so dry that the skin on your hands and lips cracks and splits in the most painful way, no matter how much moisturizer you lather on. The winds can be harsh, the ice painful, and I recognize that it’s a privilege and luxury for me to be able to bundle up and hide out in my warm home when the cold is just too much.

But still.

I just love it all.

What’s your favorite thing about winter?

When Words Fail

I’ve been sitting on a big, long, apologetic post about how terrible it is that yet again I’ve lapsed into a pattern of ignoring my blog, and yet again I’ve failed to hold up the promises I made on here, but, well, all that really just doesn’t feel important anymore.

On Friday evening, I received devastating news. A wonderful friend and colleague of mine passed away, extremely suddenly and unexpectedly. It was cutting news in more ways than one — Colleen was an inspiring and gracious coworker, a generous and thoughtful friend, and just a really, really beautiful person.

Colleen was, without a doubt, the most vivacious person I’ve ever met. She put my own enthusiasm for life to shame. Her million-dollar smile could lift your spirits by a mile. Her hugs were legend. And even if you only saw her in person once or twice a year, it was like no time had passed every time you were reunited. She just always made things that natural, that easy, that wonderful.

She was also one of the most considerate and thoughtful people I’ve ever known. From little notes on social media to handwritten cards in the mail to completely unexpected gifts, love was a language that Colleen spoke fluently. She knew how to make you feel special… even though she was the special one.

I have experienced very little loss over the course of my years, and I fully recognize how lucky that makes me. So I don’t think there is a way I could have been prepared for what I would feel upon reading the news of Colleen’s passing. It was like a tsunami washing over me. Shock, grief, utter disbelief.

I’m an emotional person, you all know this. Crying simply seems to be my body’s default setting — tears come when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m angry… well, you get the idea. But for all the hours of my life spend crying, I can count on one hand the number of times I have really wept.

For the beautiful life of Colleen, I wept.

Tears fell, thick and heavy. My body heaved with sobs. I was just overtaken with this immense sadness at the loss of my friend, taken so young, so abruptly, so unfairly.

All weekend, I’ve read the words of others on this heartbreaking event. Words expressing heartache, words offering comfort, words celebrating Colleen’s magnificent life. And I’ve struggled to find words of my own that even start to express my own deep sadness. Because every time I tried to pull together something to say, put shape to my feelings, my words seemed to fail.

I questioned if I should even say anything at all. I questioned if it’s even fair for me to feel this loss so deeply. After all, Colleen touched so many people, she was a bright light in so many lives, and while I’m lucky enough to be counted amongst them, there are so many who knew her longer, better. Would it be better to grieve quietly, to let those who knew her best share aloud? Does saying something add to Colleen’s legacy, or… is it just selfish for me to be so affected by this?

I don’t know. I don’t have an answer, really. I don’t know what’s right or what’s wrong or what’s appropriate, I just know what I feel. I feel amazed by the community of people who loved and were loved by Colleen. I feel heartache knowing there won’t be any more legendary hugs or gushing sessions over our pups, that I won’t see her at Yelp’s annual CM Week in August, or during my trip to Orlando in November (something I had just emailed with her about a week or so ago.) I feel scared seeing how unpredictable life is, how it can be cut so short. I feel comforted knowing that Colleen will not fade out of our memories. And I feel inspired to live by her example — to laugh loudly, hug people with purpose, make every moment count, and to love — hard.