print 126

Enjoying: Park Place Holiday

I get up early in the morning–the kind of early that makes me question, as I’m lying there sorting out the last dream, if it’s my wake-up time or quite possibly 2 in the morning based on the silence and the darkness. I was waking up at 5:30 before Daylight Saving kicked in, but when we all turned our clocks back and my internal alarm didn’t adjust, I figured “To hell with it, I’ll just get more done.” That, of course, leaves my daily quota for energy dried up and depleted by the time the kids go to bed, so their bedtime is now my cue to follow suit. Or, as Brett likes to say as I’m slipping into pajamas and washing my face, “Goodnight, Grandma–don’t forget to take your Miralax.”

The thing is, I like waking up early and look forward to the recognition that sleep is over because there’s a prize inside that cereal box, and it’s called Alone Time. I can do whatever I want–which I always describe as “read,” “write in my journal” or “do yoga with candles” but sometimes looks like “look at my phone,” “online shop” or “research paint colors for a wall I’m never going to paint.” Tomato, tomahto. The important thing is that these things can be done in silence, without interruption and in the clarity of brain space that is not simultaneously wondering if the sound of water running in the bathroom is normal-post-bathroom-hand-washing running water or eight-Barbies-having-a-rager-in-the-sink-that-is-about-to-overflow running water. 4:30 a.m. is when I can sit on my couch with a cup of coffee that won’t get slopped and a book I can actually read, and a candle that will not be blown out by a 4-year-old pyro.

Let’s just say if Airbnb was renting out my living room sanctuary for early risers, the price would have tripled this past weekend, shifting into the “In Season” red-marked calendar dates.

 photo _K3P9672_zpsxo5sor5a.jpg

The tree is up, a red carpet roll-out on the invitation to wake up and sit in that space and just be.

“You know what we’re sliding into now?” I asked Heidi the other day. “If the year was a Monopoly Board, we’re entering Park Place/Boardwalk territory.”

Twinkle lights don’t remove the challenges or responsibilities of everyday life, of course (I mean, there is a Luxury Tax space between Park Place and Boardwalk, if you recall), and, in some ways, holidays can intensify demands and painful recognitions. But, there’s something about the tree and the lights and the celebration that softens it somehow and reminds us to come sit down.

Fire and annual tradition of watching Elf together
 photo print 110_zpsqncmcbry.jpg

Thanksgiving morning parade and fort-making
 photo print 113_zpsdqm8rlrk.jpg

 photo print 21_zpsxssbltsg.jpg

So this might possibly be my favorite Enjoying post of the year, and–warning–it’s mega festive.

With no further ado, we’re enjoying…

Pulling out the winter village that gets a little more chipped up and broken every year (what is it with these villagers’ heads falling off?!) but never loses its charm.

 photo print 27_zpsgb1yrd3p.jpg

First night of holiday jams and checking off the holiday bucket list “roast marshmallows in the fireplace” activity.

 photo print 99_zpshccmzjfn.jpg

I love how Nella will roast a marshmallow, put it on a graham cracker, pull out a bar of chocolate…and then abandon the marshmallow/graham cracker altogether and walk away with the chocolate.

 photo print 106_zpsqe52yrd2.jpg

 photo print 107_zpszignm3qh.jpg

 photo print 60_zpsl94zxf6o.jpg

Enjoying Thanksgiving morning lazies…

 photo print 111_zpsezt0n4hs.jpg

 photo print 112_zpsm9py6wox.jpg

…and our annual breakfast tradition with our neighbors.

 photo print 121_zpsc8ku9adx.jpg

 photo print 122_zpsxibmolew.jpg

Enjoying little pie helpers this year…

 photo print 124_zps3huvmm1v.jpg

 photo print 125_zpsb7wos0rk.jpg

…and Nella’s Thankgiving plate of nothing but a heap of “mashed potatoes and grabies.”

 photo print 130_zpso5woxamk.jpg

 photo print 129_zps5uxxcegr.jpg

Enjoying sorting ornaments and memories and lingering over the story behind each one.

 photo print 143_zpsgd4rqdjd.jpg

The kids love this part. I hold up the little “Baby on the Way” cradles and “First Christmas” tiny spoons, tell them all about how they used to pull the ornaments off the tree or rip the wrapping paper open when I wasn’t looking, and while they don’t ask me to tell another story, you can totally tell by their big eyes and shy smiles that they want to hear more.

 photo print 63_zpsdoutauur.jpg

 photo print 132_zps0yywlcvu.jpg

 photo print 67_zps6seaufci.jpg

 photo print 65_zps1shh4jxn.jpg

 photo print 62_zpsiu7s2tpn.jpg

And finally…enjoying Dash’s first holiday date.

 photo print 75_zpsvpho1dr3.jpg

I take the girls to the Nutcracker every year (hopefully someday he’ll join us, but not his cup of tea right now), and this year Dash picked going to a movie with his buddy Thomas as his date. So we started a new tradition…Movie & Milkshakes.

 photo print 83_zps2toj98q2.jpg

We saw the movie The Star, followed by milkshakes at The Royal Scoop next door.

 photo print 79_zpsg9wmikfa.jpg

 photo print 80_zpstkgpdqt6.jpg

And then they talked me into taking them to the park where the sun shined magic-like through the tree branches and did all sorts of cool flarey things with its light to make up for the fact that we don’t get snow. I get it, Florida. You’re pretty too.

 photo print 81_zpsb9ofvs2i.jpg

In a matter of weeks, we will be lamenting over the fact that this all flew by too quickly–that we can’t believe it’s over. We’ll be ready to take down trees, purge our closets and remove garlands in attempts to reset, minimize and clean spaces for new goals and adventures. We will Pass Go again, sliding into to the less-twinkly routines and responsibilities of St. Charles Place and Virginia Avenue, but we’ll find good motivation there and know that Free Parking celebrations will surprise us over and over throughout the year.

But for now, I’m setting up houses on Park Place and planting a nice little hotel right in the middle of Boardwalk. I will wake up early as as many times as I can this next month and sit with my coffee, my computer, my book, my body and my thanks…for all the little pleasures we get to enjoy right now in this season.

There’s room in my hotel…come on in.

 photo print 109_zps5rhtfmb0.jpg

Happy Monday, friends. xo


Leave a Comment
  1. Love, love, love this. Look so forward to your blog, especially this time of year. It’s my happy place.

  2. Your photos always bring out the Christmas spirit in me! Cannot wait for the post North Pole party post!

  3. Beautiful pictures & love the movie & milkshakes outing. Where are the adorable Christmas PJs from?

  4. Beautiful post. Yours are the ones I look most forward to, as they make me *think*. Thank you for that.

    Enjoy these next few weeks of season. They do go by so fast.


  5. Laura Ortiz says:

    This post is beautiful, thank you for all the inspiration, now I’m beginning to pay more attention to my kids everyday moves, smiles and words and enjoy them as much as possible and even though my son is 19 and my girl who also happens to have Down Syndrome is 13, (no little ones on this side) at times I still see them little, one thing is true, I know I will keep enjoying my kids no matter the age and hopefully one day I will enjoy my grandkids one day too… I am sure your dad will agree with me.

  6. Amy albert says:

    I just noticed your ornaments laying on the floor almost resembles the shape of a ❤️!!!!!!! I love early mornings too…..but it’s already so cold here especially in the morning a balming 23 degrees!!!!!

  7. You’ve inspired me to get up before the kids (early!) sometimes this holiday season to relax and reflect sitting next to the tree with some coffee.

  8. Sounds wonderful but 4:30 am feels like the middle of the night to me! Thanks for all the decorating and tradition making inspiration! We need more garland!!!!

  9. You are really getting me feeling all the feels! Last year my son was a high school senior and i cried for everything, esp. putting up the tree. All the little ornaments he had made over the years and knowing his days in our house are numbered because one day sooner than later he will start his own life and have his own tree.. 😭. I wanted (& still want) to tell moms i see in the store with crying children that one day soon it will be over and you will miss this! The days are long. Utvthe years are short is so true! I’m so happy to read your posts and see that you are truly making magical memories in your children’s life. I was reminded today of a song i heard last year that i want to pass along to you. It’s called slow down by Nichole Nordeman. Thank you for all your happy posts!! People who decorate early are the happiest! I’ve heard that twice now in the last few days so it must be true and i totally believe it’s true!

  10. I love love love your blog and IG this time of year. I mean… always (duh) but especially this time of year. What is your secret to those bright, clear photos even with lights in them? I just LOVE every image. Thank you for sharing!

  11. I love seeing your family especially sweet little Nella. I wanted to know what kind of camera you use for your pictures?

  12. Clicking the link to your blog every day is like coming downstairs on Christmas morning. I never know what I will find but I do know that it will leave me with a grin on my face & tears in my eyes. A very confusing combination every time my kids catch me like that. You’re truly a gifted writer! Such beautiful memories!

  13. I love spending Christmas with you.

    • Thank you. That’s just what I want this place to be this time of year. A welcoming place that’s festive and fun and makes people happy. xo

  14. You and your blog / Instagram during Christmas time, is my spirit animal! I love reading your blog all year round, but it is extra special during Christmas, and it always gets my holiday spirit upUpUP! I’ve been a reader of your blog for 7 years now, and you still inspire me as much as you did when I first started reading it! :-)

    Hugs from Norway!

  15. Your blog always reminds me that it really is a gift to be alive. Thank you.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>