Monthly Archives: December 2013

Christmas 2013 recap

Another Christmas has come and gone, and it makes me sad every year. It’s such a happy time of year, and a chance to visit with friends and family who we don’t see as often as we’d like. But this year, I am mostly sad to see it go for Bridget.

She loved Christmas: the tree, lights, ornaments, Nipper, and the songs. It is true what they say; experiencing Christmas through a child is like living it all over again yourself…but better.

This Christmas was memorable for so many reasons. Here are just a few:

Bridget had her first “dance recital”. Yes, you read that correctly. She’s been taking a dance class for several weeks at daycare and they shared their talents in front of dozens of people. It was so cute, and she seemed to really enjoy it.

PicMonkey Collage_Recital

Two of my cousins welcomed new babies this year, making six great grandchildren for these two gems of grandparents. They’re celebrating 63 years of marriage this February. What a beautiful sight, indeed.


We hosted Christmas Eve at our house again this year. It was a wonderful day with my family. And, I cooked my very first turkey. I don’t want to brag, but my mom said it was the best tasting turkey she ever had. She’s not biased or anything, either.


Four generations of my family are in this photo, and I just love everything about it. I hope there will be many, many more of its kind.


Waking up Christmas morning and watching Bridget open her presents from Santa brought back so many memories from my childhood. It was such a privilege to provide the same excitement for Bridget as I remember. Here are a few of the goodies, one of which we gave a little early…we just couldn’t wait.

PicMonkey Collage_Morning

Bridget and her cousins have so much fun at Grandma and Grandpa’s. Here are a few pictures of the beautiful chaos that ensues with 10 grandkids and 14 adults.

PicMonkey Collage

And all of this completely exhausted Bridget who fell asleep within five minutes of our trek home.


Merry belated Christmas and happy New Year to all!


Portable North Pole

Thanks to the recommendation of a co-worker, I discovered Portable North Pole; a super cute personal video message from Santa.

Simply visit the website: and enter your child’s information (you can do it for any child or adult): name, age, photo, state, what they’ve been asked to work on this year, an item on their wish list, and if they’ve been naughty or nice (most of the information is in multiple choice format). Santa then uses this information to customize a message to the child.

It’s free, fun, and high quality. Bridget was on the nice list this year, but asked to continue working on not throwing temper tantrums.

We showed Bridget her video from Santa tonight. She was enthralled. When it was over, she waved to the screen and said, “bye bye, Hanta!” She’s still working on the “s” sound.

Try it for yourself!

Christmas is coming!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. These songs are running through my head as I write this post.

Christmas decorations are up. I am especially excited for this year’s decor because 1) We got a new 9-foot Christmas tree to fill our vaulted ceilings, and 2) We finally have a fireplace to decorate. I always dreamed of having a fireplace with the stockings hung and lit garland, and it’s come true. Here’s a picture of each:

photo 1 photo 2

Bridget met Santa Claus again this year Although this year’s meeting was less enjoyable for her than last. Our plans were to wait an hour or more in line for the mall Santa on a Saturday, but during a spontaneous weekday trip following a doctor appointment, we opted to take the photo then since there was no line. Bridget was not dressed in her Christmas best, she sat on his lap for two seconds, and I’m out $22. But, I will love looking back on her evolving relationship with Santa.

Bridget Santa

Our family ornament is on display! Each year, we buy an ornament that represents our year as a family. I particularly like the family personalized ones, and we went with the penguins this year. Bridget’s current favorite book is Elmo Loves You and there’s a page with penguins that she always stops on, points, and smiles. This ornament will help me remember those simple, yet meaningful memories.

photo 3

We welcomed our newest addition to the family: Nipper Snow Bum (we call him Nipper for short).

**CAUTION: If you are a child who Santa Claus will visit this year, please stop reading this post immediately.**

I’ve seen the many posts, stories, and ads for Elf on the Shelf, and wanted to join in the fun. Nipper joined the family last weekend, and has been making his rounds through the house each day since. Bridget loves “saying” his name and finding him each morning.

Quick side story about Nipper: Before I had read the book and properly completed my research on the dos and donts of Elf on the Shelf, I was excited to share with my in-laws that we had bought an Elf. After slipping that we bought Nipper (meaning Santa didn’t send him) in front of my 6-year-old nephew, Jacob, he reassured me that, “Don’t worry, Aunt Shannon. We don’t have one. It’s just a scam for people to make money.” Again, he’s 6. I couldn’t stop laughing, and he made me feel a little better for unknowingly letting the secret out. However, the throw-her-head-back-laugh Bridget does whenever she finds him is easily worth the $30, so I guess I’ve been scammed, and I’m okay with it.

We visited the Candy Cane Christmas at Spring Mist FarmsI’ve posted about this local farm before, and cannot say enough good things about it. It’s so close to our house, and offers year-round seasonal activities for kids. In December, their event is called Candy Cane Christmas. It’s $4 per child and $3 per adult, and includes a visit to their barn filled with Christmas tree displays of all different themes, train sets, and city displays. Then, for $4 more, Bridget got to sit with Santa in his workshop and build a wooden toy train that he then wood-burned her name and year into. Finally, their barn is open to view all the animals, including Charley the camel, horses, sheep, and Santa’s reindeer. It’s just the cutest place, inexpensive, and family-owned. We are becoming regulars, and I encourage you to visit and take your kids. Don’t expect extravagance – it’s pretty much exactly what I just described, but there’s something about local, simple events that fit the spirit of the holiday season.

Feeling thankful

Not just on Thanksgiving, but always, I am thankful for the blessings I enjoy every day. And this season is a time to celebrate them with the ones we love, around a table filled with lots of food.

Here’s a wrap up of our Thanksgiving 2013:

– I spent my 29th Thanksgiving with my family at my mom’s cousins’ house. My favorite people, delicious food, and French silk pie made it another one to remember.

– A weekend at my in-laws can be summed up by full bellies (my mother-in-law can cook and bake, let me tell you), endless laughter, lots of hugs from my sweet nieces and nephews, and a couple chilly nights in the hot tub. Can’t wait to do it again in a few weeks.

– Bridget playing with her cousins is something I’ll never tire of watching. Granted, the few days off her nap schedule resulted in more-frequent-than-usual melt downs, but she made up for them with her adorableness. Sorry, but I’m not sorry. I love that kid!

– We scored a 4-piece luggage set for $35 from JCPenney on Black Friday…from the comfort of home on my Smartphone. While part of me is slightly curious to experience the
madness since I never have before, I think I’ll continue to live vicariously through others.

– Saturday was a college football day for the books. My blood pressure has finally leveled out, and I’m still saying GO BLUE over here. Thanks to the Cleveland Browns for raising me well, I know that there’s always next year.

– We helped celebrate my best friend, Jenny’s husband’s early 30th birthday. Jenny and Tom are expecting their first baby in February (yay!) just a week before Tom’s real birthday, so she had a surprise party for him at a local restaurant for the Browns game today. It was great to see everyone and the place was really neat: Union Depot in Berea. Check it out sometime!

I hope you and yours had a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving. Hello, December!