Monday, November 28, 2016

Welcoming Advent and preparing for Christmas

"Here, mama!"
"Got one!"

"Here, Archie"

Joy to the world, always.

This is the kids' dresser.  The snow globe plays Oh Holy Night, the perfect Christmas nighttime lullaby.

Is it just me or is it becoming more and more socially acceptable to put up Christmas decorations before the Thanksgiving turkey is devoured?  I remember, at the earliest, the Friday following Thanksgiving was the day to put up all things red and green.  Regardless, I'm not complaining.  Being in a place with snow and cold temperatures, I wanted to put our tree up the day after Halloween.

We spent the Sunday of our Thanksgiving break decorating our little basement for the Christmas season.  We had Polar Express playing and had festive drinks in hand.  During last year's Christmas season, I remember being so excited and eager for Ella to reach an age where she could help us decorate the tree, and this year is that year.  She was all about trying to fit as many ornaments as she could on one, little branch.  As for Archie?  Well, he had a blast chucking the (plastic) ornaments as hard and far as he could.

Happy Advent season to all of you!  (27 days 'til Christmas)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bigger isn't always better

Any time I explore this topic of ultimately having wanted to leave California and move back to Michigan, I feel the need to say that California will always have a piece of my heart.  I have friends there who I miss dearly and we cannot wait to vacation there!
As a kid and teen, I grew up, lived in and rarely left my one little corner of the earth, Detroit Michigan. I didn't feel the need to, really. And I guess my family didn't either.  I liked the seasonal changes as each fresh season proposed new wardrobes, activities, and outings with friends.  I liked my hometown sports teams, I liked going to Wings' games.  I liked being around my loved ones.  

When I decided to go to college, I struggled.  I wanted to stay local and do the whole go to community college and work gig, but knew I would be best served if I got away for a while due to a long history of a rocky home life. I chose California and bid adieu to all that I knew, all that I ever knew and traded in my snow boots for year-round flip-flops.  I bought brand new Tommy Hilfiger luggage and was going to embrace it - I mean, it's freaking California, right?

There was something so glamorous about it, too, leaving my little Southeastern Michigan suburb for a school in Southern California.  I would fly back home for holidays and summer breaks, but then always and inevitably pack up and head back to my new life out west.  And everyone seemed so impressed.  At our Michigan wedding reception, someone even said to me, you've built this whole life for yourself in California, that's so great. I smiled and nodded (as every bride does at her wedding reception) but took a pause and thought is it weird that I prefer Michigan to California? That I want to move back? It seemed that any interaction I had involving a where are you from? led to wow, that's so great. Maybe that's because it implies challenge and accomplishment, maybe it's the simple fact that California has palm trees and Michigan...does not.

When I moved back to Detroit, now with my family, I was elated, over the moon, wholly happy, but it didn't feel glamorous in the slightest.  It felt pretty unglamorous, actually.  The statement we're moving to my hometown felt like it needed to be followed with that sad, little cartoon sound effect womp womp. And I felt down about it, leaving this perceivably glamorous life.  No more Santa Monica trips or Sprinkles cupcakes, or scenic drives on the 101. The most "scenic" it was going to get in my Detroit future was a daily route with 7-11s and small burger joints.  And for a second I was totally bummed. For the entirety of our marriage, we had worked to move here, and all I had was this feeling of embarrassment for moving home. Why?  'Cause I'll no longer be the one who lives in California? 'Cause I'll no longer be looked at as worldly?  Or well-traveled?  Or successful?  Gratefully, that feeling was fleeting, as it should have been.  I hate to admit I cared, even for a brief moment, about such shallow concerns especially since I haven't felt this whole since I left back in '09.

It's supposed to be 26 degrees tonight, it's now practically pitch black at 5:30PM as we've fully entered Winter, and my entire family is currently residing in a basement, and I've never been happier. This certainly is the lesser of glamorous lifestyles. Them potholes, crazy and unpredictable weather forecasts and months of cold speaks for itself, but it's my little corner of the world. I've seen Rome and Ireland and Paris, have lived in California and Washington, and I couldn't be happier to be back in little, old Detroit. It may not be seen as Glam Capitol of the World, but it's home with class and character and for that reason is the Capitol of my Heart.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


It seems Tim and I are way too newly married to be ... reminiscing.  I mean, right?  Reminiscing is such a weighty word full of implying things like Polaroids and big hair and Ts that read Zeppelin across the chest. But that's what it feels like I'm doing here, reminiscing.

As we gear up to close out another year, another close to another year that will look different than the last, I just couldn't help but to look back at our beginning -- our very beginning, that now feels like a lifetime ago.  My pant size was different, my hair style was different, my Target boots were still holdin' strong.  I hadn't yet bore two children and we hadn't yet moved 4 times.

It was just us, newly minted college grads with a bag of half-planned dreams and fluctuating checking accounts.

Having crossed a few major goals off our list, I can only say to these kids in the pictures oh, the places you'll go.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A belated honeymoon

When Tim and I were prepping for our wedding, a honeymoon was originally included in the planning.  (Duh.)  We were to go to a resort in northern Michigan and spend 5 whole days decompressing from destination wedding chaos.  After crunching what would be the numbers of our newlywed budget, we realized that spending money on a honeymoon wasn't practical nor...doable. We realized any money we were going to receive as a gift needed to go to furnishing an apartment and all those new apartment costs.  So, we canceled our reservation and put any idea of honeymoon on hold.

Going on a honeymoon wasn't an option until just recently when we moved near family in Michigan. I decided to take Tim's birthday as an opportunity to say, "You've worked so hard for us.  Thank you. Let's go on that honeymoon."  So I did.  Our kids went off to spend the weekend with one of their favorite people, and Tim and I hit the highway North.

We quickly slipped into Fall Heaven.  A four-hour drive (and one speeding ticket) later, we entered Glen Arbor, a quiet, lush part of Western Michigan.  I had never been to that part of the state, so it was Tim and I wandering and discovering together.  

There's not much to say about it except that it was simple and perfect.  And that if felt beyond good to go away with money we worked hard to save and having had 3 full years of marriage behind us.


This was taken at a rest stop.  But I'm pretty sure it could be made into a postcard.

Do you think this looks like a place that would have GF pizza?  We didn't think so either.  But it's the best (and only) in town!

Local eats are the best eats.

We're so cool, it hurts.

I spy a Youper!

Pretty, ain't it?

Hey there, hott stuff!

Oh, just me casually posing.

Quick!  It's raining!  Get under the hat!  (What I told Tim right before he snapped this picture.)

I...don't know what I'm doing here.  Showcasing that scarecrow? 

First trip to a winery and all I do is take pictures of the bottles with dogs on them.  Typical.