Friday, December 23, 2011

Ready for Christmas

There are few things I love more than a Christmas house. And in addition to our award winning exterior decorations, the inside is all ready for the holiday as well! This is the first time we've celebrated Christmas twice in the same house, so it was kind of weird to decorate and already know where everything went. Thankfully, the addition of new Christmas cards and new ways to display them has added a little variety from last year. And Brad and I found some new stockings that we like better, so our mantle looks a little different, too.

Our tree is mostly the same with a few new additions. And my good friend, Kristen, made me a wonderful green, red, and silver ornament wreathe to hang on the wall, that features a happy Noel the Gnome in the center of it. She knows me very well.

Of course, we personalized our annual Mehaffey ornament for 2011, but we also added some fitting NYC ornaments to our collection. The adorable Mindy and Brad initials are another gift from Kristen, the other M is for Mehaffey and each couple in the family has a matching one, and the "Faith" precious moment one was a gift from my mother-in-law, encouraging us to keep our faith in the Lord as we continue on through our fertility process (so thoughtful!).  I love that we add to our tree's "trimming" each year.

But wait, did you notice all of those presents??? Many of those are for other people that we love, but some of them are for Brad and me, too. Holla!! I'm dying to see what's inside them! (I'm really just anxious for some nice slippers. One of those wrapped boxes under the tree better have a pair of slippers for me! Ahem, Bradley.)

Of course, Christmas is so much more than slippers gifts under the tree. I hope you all get a chance to spend time with your family and those whom you love this weekend!


PS. I'm praying for many of you who are especially reminded of losses over the holiday season, or may be celebrating Christmas for the first time without that certain someone who is missed dearly. My heart is with you. God is near.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Card Displays

One of my favorite activities during Christmastime is sending, receiving and decorating with Christmas cards from people we love. Last year, I proudly hung them all on our door. But this year, I saw this cute idea on pinterest for displaying cards that I simply couldn't wait to do in our own home.

So I ran to Big Lots and bought 50 feet of red velvet ribbon for $3 and a package of clothes pins for like $1.50 and got my cabinet doors ready for cards. As the Christmas mail has come in, I've immediately pinned it to the awaiting ribbon.

I really like how the decorated doors not only display the love from some of our favorite people, but also warm up our entire kitchen. (And, as an added bonus, there's no tape to peel the paint off of our garage door. Lesson learned.) I'm definitely going to miss the eye candy when we have to eventually remove them.

However, just because the cards will be taken down from our kitchen cabinets doesn't mean that they'll get thrown away. I found another creative way to showcase cards from Christmas past. You just punch a couple holes in the edges and then bind them together with metal binder rings to make a little booklet that  you can set out as a coffee table book for the holidays. Brilliant, right ?

So, now I actually have something to do with the old cards that I just couldn't bear to throw away at the end of the season. I'll make a new pack each year and just toss them on the  table when I set out our Christmas decorations. And it's really fun to casually look back through them and see how people have changed over the year(s).

And speaking of Christmas cards, here's a virtual version of our 2011 card, just for you! Of course, it features a picture from NYC! Did you send out any this year?

Thanks to both of these new tricks, I have a fun and creative way to show off both current cards and past ones. This makes me love my Christmas cards even more! Do you display the ones you receive? Let me know if you use these same techniques. They're really cheap and easy. Hope you have fun decorating with your Christmas mail!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tastefully Griswolding it

I interrupt this just-begun NYC series to bring you our Christmas House for 2011! (The series of posts regarding our Thanksgiving trip will continue at a later date. I make no promises for continuity. But eventually, all six days will definitely be documented. Guaranteed.)

Oh! I just love Christmastime! And I love coming home to our festive Christmas house!! I really enjoyed our outside decor last year, but this time we upped the ante with lights!! Lots of lights! (That we bought in after Christmas sales, last year. Sneaky.)

It took an entire weekend to complete, and we joked that our house was going to look very Griswoldian when it was all finished. But I think Brad was able to pull it off in a more tasteful, classic way than the classic vacationers. I love that there are wreaths, garland and bows to enjoy during the daytime, as well as pretty lights to see at night! (The bows on the mailbox were Brad's surprise touch. He pretends that he does all of this for my benefit, but he totally loves it, too!)

And look at these super adorable, super cheap, super easy little Christmas trees I made out of upside-down tomato cages, some garland, and a coupld strands of twinkling lights. I'm not generally crafty, but I really like the way these turned out! And they oh-so-conveniently hide our very occupied outlet by the front door. [Thanks, Pinterest!]

And now, the grand unveiling of our Christmas House at night! *Drumroll* Isn't it just magical?? Brad decided to add lights even to the garland draped on the railing, and Charles had some extra net lights for the bushes to complete the whole scene.

The lights go all of the way back on both sides of the house. Thanks to our automatic timer, this is the pretty view I get to see as I drive through our neighborhood to our house every day. Ahh...

I really like how our entryway turned out. I feel like it's so warm and inviting. I love the glowing lights outlining the house and the twinkling lights on the mini trees and the fact that you can see our Christmas tree through the window, as well as the shadows of the bows. What a very happy, pretty time of year. :)

And to be honest, I'm really glad the exterior decorations all turned out so well, because it was a pretty scary process to hang them. Brad climbed all of the way to the very peak of our steep roof and down each side attaching lights every few inches. I could only watch long enough to take these few shots, and then I had to go in before I got too nervous. Kris volunteered to throw boxes of lights up to him, and even to "catch him if he fell." (How very kind of him.) Even with his fear of  heights, he climbed out onto our porch roof to provide some assistance. I guess he was just returning the favor from last year (and again, this year). Thankfully, another friend brought some extension ladders the next day to finish off the sides of the roof where it was too dangerous to venture from the shingles. Good friends are good to have. Jussayin...

Tonight, our HOA is hosting a community walk to view all of the houses in the neighborhood, and then they're awarding a $50 gift card to one winner with the best decorated home. Our fingers are crossed that we'll make the cut!

**Update: We totally won! Holla!!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

NYC Day 1

Brad and I got to spend the the entire week of Thanksgiving in New York City! I can't wait to (finally) tell you all about our trip! Since we did so much throughout the week, and took so many pictures (over 1,000), I'm going to do a separate post for each day that we were in the Big Apple.

Please. Indulge Join me as we sit down together and go through our vacation pictures! :)

This was the beautiful view from our hotel room, which was tiny. Literally, Brad's knees hit the wall if he sat on the toilet. Ha!

This was our first picture together in the city. The fountain behind us, located right outside of Central Park was filled with tons of lit Christmas trees for the season!

Our first stop was 5th Avenue. We wanted to get any shopping / visiting of shopping areas done early in the week so as to avoid Black Friday craziness. And it was wonderful. We saw all kinds of fancy stores that were way out of our league: Gucci, Prada, Bergdorf Goodman, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Chanel, Dior, Amani, Saks, etc. I had to stop outside of Tiffany's to flash my own bling. And they all had everything decorated for Christmas, which made me a very happy tourist! Look how pretty that Cartier store is, all wrapped up like a present!

One store on the strip, however, was precisely up our alley. I declare that FAO Schwarz has got to be the best toy store in America. The toy soldier guard even took a break from his cheerful song welcoming people to the store to pose with us!

Seriously, Brad and I were like little kids in this place. I was all wide-eyed in wonder looking at all the toys. And they had an entire floor that was just a big candy store! It was called FAO Schweetz, and they had candy the size of your head! I'm talking a pair of 1/2 pound peanut butter cups, people!

We hung out in FAO for hours. Literally. We played with every toy and posed with every prop. There was an entire Harry Potter section where you could buy real quidditch robes and wizarding hats. I was very tempted to buy this Hufflepuff scarf. (Yes, I was sorted into Hufflepuff. I've come to terms with it.) But our favorite parts may have been all of the gigantic lego sculptures! They were pretty amazing. 

Once we were finished playing in the toy store and mocking strange window displays on 5th Avenue, we ventured over to the Radio City Music Hall. Thanks to our pre-purchased New York pass, we had access to the backstage tour. It was interesting to learn of the history and see the secret VIP rooms in which celebrities during various awards shows. But the best part was definitely the opportunity to meat a real Rockette! She told us all about the show and the the routines and the audition process and the height requirements. (They're all between 5'8" and 5'10", and they create the illusion of being the exact same height by placing the tallest in the center and very gradually placing the shortest on the edges.) All I know, is standing next to her not only demonstrated our height differences, it also demonstrated how to pose for pictures to look awesome by having your front leg bent and tilting a little to the side. Tricky, tricky.

One of my personal favorite aspects of NYC was the presence of all of the hot dog vendors! They were literally everywhere you looked. On this one intersection alone, there was a stand on all four corners of the street. They were such a cheap and convenient solution to hunger with a busy schedule. And these guys were super fast, too. They'd trail mustard on the dog one direction, drop the container, pickup the ketchup, and squeeze it out going the opposite direction. (And it's "mustard and ketchup" not "ketchup and mustard" in NYC.) I think the entire process from order requested to the exchange of food and cash was less than 90 seconds. Nice.

We stepped into the massive, beautiful, free public library to take a look around. The whole place was like one giant work of art. The never ending hallways, stairways, and rooms had incredibly high ceilings with murals on many walls and ceilings and gorgeous scroll work and carved woodwork throughout. Naturally, in such an overwhelmingly beautiful building, I had one mission: to find a copy of Harry Potter. Mission: Accomplished.

Right outside of the library was this giant area with various booths and stands surrounding a pretty fountain. (The only fountain that we saw all week with water still running, even into the winter months.) One of the little shops had pet souvenirs, and I was this close to buying Chester a shirt that said "I Ruff NY."  But alas, Brad vetoed the decision. We did, however, purchase our annual 2011 personalized ornament here.

As evening approached, we walked over to Grand Central Terminal. Sadly, we did not see any flashmobs during our visit. To cheer ourselves up, we got super-touristy and enjoyed a little audio tour of the famous landmark. Yeah, we're that legit.

Like I said, we wanted to get any shopping / stores done early in the week. I couldn't be in New York City, and not visit the festive Macy's! I was pretty pumped to be standing on 34th Street, where miracles have been reported. (Full disclosure: All but three of the pictures featured in this collage were actually taken later in the week when we came back during the daytime. Shhh....)

The entire department store was decked out for the holidays. I loved it! They even had a special section for writing letters to Santa and putting them in a special North Pole mail box. We went all the way up to the 9th floor (!) to see all of their Christmas merchandise. A whole floor of nothing but Christmas stuff! It was like magic!

After I had purchased my authentic "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2011" ornament to commemorate our trip, we penetrated Times Square for the first time. Wow. It was like sensory overload! So many giant billboards and screens and flashing lights and people! We loved it!! In the midst of all the chaos, we stood there for a few minutes, just holding each other and taking it all in. What a cool thing to experience with my favorite person in the world!

Our Times Square visit this night (we went back often) consisted of another toy store; Toys "R" Us. (Don't judge us. We love toy stores.) They have a full sized ferris wheel inside the store! Every car was different and awesome. They had the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo. They had Toy Story characters and Nickelodean characters. They had a Barbie corvette and a Monopoly car. You weren't able to choose the one you rode in, but I had secretly been hoping for the giant Fisher Price car, since I watch Charlie and Layla have so much fun in theirs all the time, and I just have to watch since I'm too big. And guess what, that's was the next car that came up as we were loading! Holla! (In your face, girls! I can ride in one, too!)

Whoa. Did you even know you could pack that much fun into one day?? I sure didn't! But NYC has endless possibilities! By the end of the night, we were so exhausted and had terribly sore feet from walking around so much. Even though I was half asleep, I couldn't neglect taking some pictures of the city at night from our hotel room window. So pretty.

We fell into bed with a sense of accomplishment for successfully completing everything on that day's itinerary. As well as a sense of apprehension for the tiring days ahead. One day down, five to go. Bring it on.

Catch up on the rest of the week:
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6

Friday, December 9, 2011

I'm trying

I'm trying to conceive.

Heck, I'm just trying to ovulate at all.

I'm trying to be patient.

I'm trying to trust God's plan and have faith in His timing.

I'm trying to be positive.

I'm trying to not be discouraged, disappointed, or sad.

I'm trying to look on the bright side.

I'm trying to focus on my blessings.

I'm trying to get into the Christmas spirit.

I'm trying to stay motivated.

I'm trying not to cry at work.

I'm trying to not be or appear weak, but still be true to myself.

I'm trying to not throw myself a pity party.

I'm trying to keep things in perspective.

I'm trying to not be jealous of pregnant women and mommies of sweet kids.

I'm trying to not be offended by people's casual questions of "when it's our turn" or well-meaning comments about "how great I'd look with a baby on my hip."

I'm trying to not offend or hurt anybody's feelings by saying all of these things.

I'm trying to not be apprehensive of letting my blog and my blog readers come "behind the scenes."

As I'm sure most of you know, Brad and I are very anxious to get pregnant. It's been featured on each bucket list that I've published this year. However, you probably don't know that we've been trying to conceive for a total of about two years, now. It's not really something we've been super open about in the past. We didn't want all of the questions or unsolicited advice or awkward pity or dealing with the pressure of other people in addition to our own that we thought would come along with revealing the struggle. But I'm over that now. It's too much a part of my life to keep hidden.

I have to admit, even though I absolutely loooove Christmastime, this one is turning out to be a rather difficult one for me. You see, I had big, vivid dreams of celebrating this year's holiday with family and finally getting the perfect opportunity to reveal the great news of our pregnancy with those we love the most through clever Christmas gifts, nonchalantly wrapped under the tree. I already envisioned their faces of shock and joy. I had visions of a tiny stocking on our mantle and a special ornament for our sweet little bun in my oven on our tree.

Maybe I shouldn't have gotten my hopes up so high for such a special Christmas. In fact, looking back, of course I shouldn't have. But when we first started deliberately addressing our fertility issues back in May, I felt like Christmas was so far away. And when I scheduled an appointment with the doctor in July, I thought I still had plenty of time. And when I was diagnosed with PCOS and started a medicinal treatment in September, I thought I had four more tries to make it. And when that medicine alone didn't work, and she prescribed me with a fertility drug in November, I thought I had a 50/50 chance.

It turns out the timing doesn't always fall according to (my) plan. I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that this Christmas, I may have a full stocking and a tree full of presents and a full house of family whom I love, but I'll still have an empty womb.

...I can't describe how that feels. Some of you may know for yourself. From past experience or from current struggles. (I'm praying for you.)

I'm trying to be positive. And I'm trying to be patient. And I'm trying to enjoy (hopefully our last) Christmas together as just Brad and me. I'm trying to concentrate on how lucky I am to have such a wonderful, loving, compassionate partner as a husband. I'm trying to put on a smile and see the glass as half full. I'm trying to not be over dramatic or make a big deal out of something that I'll (hopefully) look back on as just a small blip in our story. I'm trying to focus more on God's will, and trust completely in His timing and His plan for me. (Which I wholeheartedly do.)

But regardless of all my effort, there's still a hole smack dab in the middle of my heart. Because right now, my heart belongs to a little baby whom I haven't had the blessed privilege of meeting. Yet.

{Sorry for being a Debbie Downer. Especially on a Friday. Especially during Christmastime. My heart was oozing all of that, and I had to let it out. And since this blog is my outlet, it was the only way I knew how. I hope you will forgive me. ♥ }

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Liv's Official Birth Announcement

Are you kidding me?? Look at that sweet girl! I am head over heels in love with Liv. After you watch this sentimental video birth announcement, you will be, too. Seriously. You've been warned.

Oh! I just can't get enough of her! Those toes. That tiny, puggy nose. Her sweet yawn! Big sister Charlie is precious with her; giving her lots of kisses and then holding her baby sister, but only for a minute before she gets bored and wants to go play. (Ha!) Oh, and that's Emily's song and singing in the video. Awesome, right? I absolutely love this wonderful family. God's blessings are boundless!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Winter Bucket List

Bucket lists have become some of my favorite things to do. I love dreaming of all the fun things we can achieve each season, regardless of whether or not many of the activities are far fetched. And I even enjoy creating the actual list, and putting all of the items into a visual format with shapes and spacing and stuff. I'm kind of a nerd like that. But it's so fun to go ahead and get into the seasonal spirit by tapping into the colors and themes of each particular time of year just for the list itself. I was so excited to make this year's winter list "sparkle!"

I love Christmas, and all things having to do with Christmas traditions, so I do believe the winter bucket list has more items featured than any of my past ones. I can't wait to venture into this wonderful holiday season!

[click to enlarge]
And just in case you're wondering, here's the finished autumn bucket list. I still can't believe we were able to do some of those awesome NYC things! (I can't wait to blog about our trip!) However, like the summer's list before it, we were unable to cross off every item. Some incomplete tasks aren't that big of deals. Some we're kind of disappointed that we didn't accomplish. Oh well. Maybe next time.

[click to enlarge]
What about you? How excited for Christmastime are you?? What's on your winter to-do list? Do you have traditions you do each year? I'd love to hear about it. I'll take any ideas you're willing to share.
Merry Christmastime!!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

"Ours" by Taylor

[fanmade pic via]

Taylor's newest video is out! And I love it. I was surprised she chose to release "Ours," since it's not technically part of her Speak Now album, but instead on the bonus disk. This has been one of my favorite songs of hers since the album's release. I can't stop watching the video!

Ours from Taylor Swift on Vimeo.

I love that she put little Easter eggs in there for all of her dedicated Swifties; like the fact that she works on the 13th floor, and that she even featured her own new kitty Meredith. I was shocked to see her so frumpy and in a boring, desk job, but I love it! And the sweet reunion at the end is just so romantic. Sometimes, a love that's only "ours" is all you need to get through the mundane tasks of daily living.

Friday, November 18, 2011

TSwiz the Role Model

[picture source]
Just another reason why I love Taylor Swift:

She's simply the best. I have so much respect for her. I love that she takes her position as a role model seriously and chooses to conduct herself accordingly. What a great example for all the little girls (and big girls... and guys, too) who admire her. Someday, when I have a daughter, I'll gladly let her look up to Taylor. I'm anxious to watch the rest of the interview and see what else she has to say!
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