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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Our Christmas and a New Tradition

Zach and I love going away together around Christmas time and exchanging gifts just the two of us. The more children we have, the more I'm thankful for this tradition. Holidays are CRAZY and it's nice to just have it be the two of us and to be able to enjoy each other. This year we took the big kids with us on what would normally be our "Christmas trip." We originally talked about bringing our gifts with us and opening them when the kids were in bed one night but ended up deciding against it. We actually didn't do our little Christmas together until the 22nd of Dec! Super late for us! I LOVED having all my gifts wrapped and under the tree. I don't know if everyone does this but I always write out my tags with little jokes...like Kye's golf toys said "To the Future Tiger Woods" stuff like that. My parents always did it growing up and so did Zach's! 

Since we go to Zach's mom's house for Christmas morning, I like having all our presents under our tree at home for as long as possible. The kids enjoy reading all the tags and getting excited over what could possibly be in the packages :) Anticipation is one of the best things about Christmas, don't you agree?



 For our little Christmas together Zach picked up Aligatu and we caught up on episodes of Survivor then opened presents. Romantic huh? ;) 

This year I really worked hard to stick to the budget. I felt guilty not getting Zach a bunch of brand name stuff like I normally do but I went for quantity over quality and I think he liked everything? I had to really pinch pennies in order to work his big gift into the budget! I had THE hardest time with him this year. I just feel like he has everything!!! 
 For his big present we are going to the beach as a family over Spring Break and he's getting surf lessons from Ron Jon's Surf Shop!
He did SO awesome for my gifts this year and it made me feel bad for how much I struggled to think of things for him! I really have been wanting a silver/gray purse and I have been needing new sunglasses so bad! My head is massive and legit sunglasses are hard to find for me. Like they will hurt my head after just a few minutes of wearing them! He found some beautiful Coach ones that fit PERFECTLY! 
I did end up telling him right away that we'd have to return one present. I LOVE this bracelet he got for me and it was very, very sweet and thoughtful but when he told me the price I said it needed to go back! It's too trendy of an item to pay as much as he paid for it. It is so pretty though so I snapped a pic to remember it by ;)
At first when I opened the Magic Bullet I was a little bit annoyed. Hello...appliances are not presents hahaha! But omg that thing is AMAZING. We both are obsessed with it!!! I use it every morning for my meal replacement shakes and I also use it every afternoon and make Spark slushies. Omg. Once you have a Spark slushie your life will never be the same. So amazing :) 

My big gift was also an experience present (we love experience gifts!). He told me I can go to Disney with some girl friends sometime this year! I'm very excited!!! I'm waiting until I'm done nursing for us to go but plans are starting to be made and it's gonna be a blast!
I was super pumped to get Zach a Wallet Ninja . Have y'all seen them? It's 18 tools in 1 and it's the size of a credit card and can fit in your wallet! Zach is SUPER handy and I knew he'd get a lot of use out of it. I think it's my new favorite guy gift. Every guy who I buy presents for better be ready ;) I was even more surprised about it when I saw a familiar face on the packaging! I went to high school with the guy featured on the package! I, of course, went on a hunt and found him doing the commercial for the Wallet Ninja too! If Josh happens to read this...congrats :) If you watch the commercial...you will totally want one too (and yes, I am a SUCKER for as seen on tv stuff. I have to avoid those channels b/c the suck me in haha). 
Bahaha he texted me this of him putting it to use!
Opening gifts at our house wasn't the same as our trips together. But it was nice and it was just us time and I enjoyed it! Zach really put a lot of thought into my presents and I really loved them all and hope he liked his too :) 

As you all know I haven't had my family as part of my holidays in a few years now. Last year it wasn't too hard on my emotions. I was newly pregnant and I had the flu so it was hard to focus on much else haha! But also I was SO excited to tell everyone our news (we announced our pregnancy on Christmas!) that it overshadowed any negative feelings I might have been having surrounding the holidays.

This year was a lot harder for me. Like a LOT harder. I'm not sure if it's bc it was Tess's first Christmas? My mom was part of both Kye's and Britt's first Christmases so maybe it bothered me more? Also I had a few very hurtful things happen from family members (a randomly mean text and a randomly mean letter in the mail) that brought a lot of those emotions to the surface again. And I think visiting my dad made it harder? I know that sounds odd but I think being at his house and having so many of my childhood memories come flooding back just made me miss my family more. 

Whatever the reasons. It was very, very hard on me. And it was made even more difficult because we do so much with Zach's family at the holidays. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the Parkers. But rushing to and from one event to the next because you "have to see" this family member and that family member is hard for someone who doesn't get to see any of their family. It's like "we have to see this random cousin b/c it's the holidays" and I'm sitting there thinking "I'm not even seeing my mom on the holidays." It's also hard to see all of Zach's family together. There is always a lot of "remember whens" (natural during the holidays in every family I'm sure!) and it makes me sad that I don't have anyone to "remember when" with. 

When Zach and I got married he had some "deal breakers" I had to agree on. One was that I'd be okay with living in Valdosta forever and the second was that I'd agree to spend the night at his mom's house every Christmas Eve. (He agreed to live in a neighborhood and to always have pets) I think, 8 years into our marriage, that Zach is now comfortable with neighborhood living. And I am very happy living in Valdosta. The other two things we agreed to are more difficult for each of us. Zach can't stand our pets and the whole Christmas Eve thing is just a harder thing to accept now that I'm a mom and now that I don't have other blood relatives in my life. I think, though, that it'd be a difficult tradition for any wife, right? Never having Christmas morning in my own home? Anyone I've ever told about this tradition can't believe we do it! I LOVE Mrs. Charlotte and I LOVE spending time with the family.  I think it was easier before because it was time with his family and we had time with mine. Now I feel like it's just all about his family all the time. And that's tough! 

Now that I don't have my own family, my life is fully 100% about the family Zach and I have created together. I have Zach's family but they aren't my blood. The only blood I have is my babies! And when everything happened with my mom and everyone, I wish I'd seen the bigger picture about what holidays would come to mean for me. Zach and I should have had a big talk then. When we originally divided up holidays when we got married my family "got" certain ones and his family "got" certain ones. And now that I don't have any family it shouldn't mean that all the holidays automatically go to his family, ya know? I don't mean that to sound selfish or that I don't want to see his family. Because I truly love them all and want to see them at the holidays and spend time together celebrating with them!  I just would also like to be able to spend more holiday time with my little family. Obviously I'm not saying I don't want to spend time with the Parkers, because I do! And obviously I'm not saying I want to stop spending the night at Mrs. Charlotte's on the 24th, I know better than to even mention that haha! But I don't think it's unreasonable to want more quality time with my core family. A chance to create our own "remember whens" and a chance for me to being able to pass along some of the traditions that are important to me from my childhood. 

We still have figuring out to do about all of this but in the mist of my difficult holiday season this year I was able to open up a lot more to Zach about how I feel and express to him what I need. We decided a GREAT plan for Christmas and I think it's a perfect start to a solution! I often feel like my traditions get rushed at the holidays b/c we have so many Parker traditions and they always tend to trump everything else. So we decided to make Dec 23rd OUR family day. In the future we will do our Christmas cookies on this day along with any other fun things we decide to do. We'll spend the whole day together just our core family. We'll open our stocking gifts we got for each other as well as exchange the gifts we got from Target. Zach and I will also give the kids a couple gifts to open too. We'll get to have some gift opening under our tree in our home and we'll get a day to just create special memories that we'll all share and can talk about for years to come. I'm THRILLED about it and it's a great compromise and allows me to feel like I'm still getting that quality time with my family while at the same time not sacrificing any of the time away from his family. A total win-win and the best of both worlds!!! 

Kickin' off our day with pics by the tree!




I love having Tess her stocking holder this year and stocking :)
We filled our stockings and opened them!










Kye was pumped about his magic wand :)
Since we had already done Christmas cookies we decided to bake some other holiday cookies to enjoy!




I love, love, LOVE the way she adores her brother
It was so fun baking as a family with Daddy there too!

We also wrote our letter to Santa to take with us to G-Mama's house
Britt said she wanted a pink spider, a whale and a pen. Obviously all random things she thought of that minute. That's how she was this year with gifts. Every time we asked her she'd have a different answer!
Before dinner we did our family gift exchange. We all opened our gifts from Target that we got each other and also we gave the kids each one present to open. Usually we open these gifts (and our stockings) on Christmas day after we get home and it always feels like such an after thought and almost depressing opening them next to an empty tree! This was SO much more fun! We all were in the Christmas spirit and enjoyed hearing Christmas songs and sitting around our pretty tree with all the wrapped gifts surrounding us. I really love this new tradition!

The kids picked out a "mother" bracelet for me. My first "mom" jewelry :) 
Kye is such a thoughtful giver. He took his time at the store and really put a lot of heart into the gifts he picked. He picked out a baby doll for Britt. I tried to get him to change his mind because the child has too many baby dolls. But he insisted that she'd love this certain one because it had a paci and a little stuffed animal that lit up so we got it. He also picked out golfing stuff for Zach and I loved watching Kye as they opened their gifts that he picked out. You can tell he enjoys giving!
The gift the big kids opened from us was new robes! 
Tess got these aden + anais security blankets that my friend Larissa told me her daughter loves. They are very small and super breathable so I was hoping to give one to Tess to sleep with rather than her current friend. It didn't work. She didn't like it AT ALL for sleep but she loves them for play and especially to chew on!


While Tess napped and Daddy fixed dinner (always a treat!) we made our reindeer food! We made one for each cousin to have on Christmas Eve. It's a SUPER simple and fun thing to put together. Reindeer like to eat oats and sparkly sprinkles mixed in a bag!

After dinner we cuddled up with cookies and hot chocolate and watched a Christmas movie together!
It was SUCH a perfect day and it makes me very, very excited to have the 23rd as our family day in the future! Of course next year I'll be better planned for it and it'll be even more fun! I want to come up with some unique traditions for the day to include so we will have some special stuff for our kids to want to pass down to their children :) I'm so appreciative of Zach for being there for me during my moments of sadness and for listening to me and understanding my needs. He put himself fully into our day and made it so fun and really always puts me and our kids above all else! I'm thankful and blessed and even when I get sad about the people who I miss, I never take for granted the amazing people I have :) 

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