Favorite present & ornament [Days 5+6]

Both of these are sentimental stories; the present one is really cool, the ornament one is frustratingly sad.

Favorite present: Before they divorced and times got tough, my parents showered me with presents. Like, I am embarrassed by how much they used to get me for birthdays and Christmas. Being an only child, I honestly think I would have turned out to be a super selfish bee-yotch if certain events had never taken place. Kind of weird to think about…

Anyways, one year, I think when I was 5 or 6, I unwrapped my presents like any kid does: as soon as one was unwrapped and registered as really neat and “can’t wait to play with!”, I was ready to unwrap the next.

My dad had been videotaping all morning, something that wasn’t unusual. I still have this home video, but it’s a VHS so I can’t even begin to try to show you.

When all three of us had unwrapped everything, my dad asked me if I had gotten everything I asked for.

I said, “Yeah,” kind of unconvincingly.

“You got all that stuff and you still weren’t satisfied?!” my now 26-year-old self yells.

I remember my dad then looked over toward our recliner chair and furrowed his brow. In the video, he says, “Wait a minute…what is that?”

Concerned, I turn my head to look at the recliner and ask, “What is what?”

“Go look behind the recliner; there’s something behind it.”

To my bewilderment, there was a large wrapped box behind the recliner. I was so excited and had no idea what it could be, but it was huge so it must be something good!

My parents encourage me to open it and, wouldn’t you know, it was the Life Size Barbie I had been coveting! My dad had pulled the trick from A Christmas Story with the present, and it was amazing and unforgettable.

The next clip on this particular home video is of me dancing in the matching ballerina costume that came with the Barbie; I was already about 8 inches taller than this thing, so the outfit was a little snug.

Favorite ornament: This is a hard one because it makes me remember that when I moved out of my house and got it ready to be sold 2 years ago, I forgot to go through the hall closet where we kept all of the holiday decorations. Old halloween costumes, Easter and Thanksgiving knick-knacks, our fake Christmas tree, all of the lights neatly organized, and all of our Christmas decorations. All of it, gone.

When I reached my early teens, I became the Christmas tree decorator. Every year, I would choose a color theme for our tree, and only use decorations that were those colors. I also realized that in order to make the fake tree look somewhat realistic, each individual branch had to be “fluffed”, a concept that my parents never seemed to get. I remember that you could always see the middle pole and the branches looked flat, like a cupcake stand if you know what I mean.

We had decorations that my mom had bought back when she was single and living on her own. We had some Buffalo Bills decorations and a couple metal ones that were personalized: one looked like an angel and said “Holly” and had my birthdate on it and the other was a cat in a stocking that said “Jack” (my cat who passed away in 2011). We also had a few decorations that I made back in elementary school.

And now I have no idea where any of them are. Maybe they ended up getting sold when my aunt had a yard sale to get rid of all that was left in our house (I was still in school and couldn’t go back up to do it). Maybe they were overlooked and the new owner ended up going through them. Maybe they just ended up going straight in a dumpster.

I’ll never know. And it breaks my heart. I won’t have those to decorate when Tom and I have our own house and own tree. Our kids won’t ever see the decorations that I made when I was their age. And it’s my fault.

I know they’re only material possessions and we can buy our own and our kids will make their own someday. I don’t mean to be dramatic but it just frustrates me that I didn’t even think about going through that closet. We were so pressed for time and couldn’t fit anything else in the truck when I packed it up with my stuff to bring down to NYC.

So as of right now, I have 3 decorations: 2 are from when we got engaged (thanks Casey and Juhasz family!) and the other is a set of 4 snowmen from our friend Courtney. We haven’t had our own tree since living together because we spend Christmas with my in-laws (and there’s not really any room for a tree!) so it’s okay. There’s plenty of time to make our own decoration collection and tie memories to them.

 

Do you remember your favorite present and/or have a favorite ornament?

Christmas Music? [Day 4]

Yes! Unlike my husband, Thomas McScrooge, I love Christmas music.

I love the really great songs, the classic songs, and the goofy songs.

Speaking of goofy Christmas songs, I have a gem.

I found this video a few months back by Colleen and Josh Evans [I’m on first name basis with YouTubers] from a few years ago that made me laugh so hard I was crying. All the while thinking WHERE HAVE I BEEN?!?! and WHY DID IT TAKE ME SO LONG TO FIND THIS?!?!

The song is so ridiculous and it is just astounding that it is an actual song that you can actually pay for. I don’t recommend paying for it, so just watch this phenomenal music video for the ballad titled “Be Mine For Christmas” by KEM.

You’re welcome.

Snooping for Presents [Day 3]

Today’s topic is supposed to be about the reality of Santa, but I don’t want to go there.

Instead, I’ll talk about my first and most vivid memory of snooping for presents. This will be a short post.

I think I was about 7 or 8 when I snooped and found the jackpot of presents. I was watching TV in my parents’ room one night while my mom was in the shower and my dad was working a late shift.

I knew the presents had to be hidden somewhere and I had to act fast before Mom got out of the shower and found mid-quest, so I tried under the bed first.

No luck.

The next logical step was the closet. I opened the two bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a large mound of presents in a large black garbage bag. The only thing I really remember amongst the pile was that there were a couple board games. I think some were already wrapped and I wasn’t ready to try to stealthily open them just for a sneak peek.

Like I said in my last post, I like the anticipation and the feeling of the unknown when it comes to presents. So I wasn’t too hell-bent on seeing everything that was in the closet that night.

I was pumped but also panicked and quickly closed the doors back up, trying my best not to make a sound because moms usually have crazy good hearing.

Do you remember snooping for presents before Christmas?

Looking for inspiration

You know how pregnant women say they have ‘pregnancy-brain’? Well, I honestly think that ‘bride-to-be-brain’ is also a real thing. And oh boy do I have it.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written an original blog post on here. I’ve written a few drafts of this post, but each time I’ve been unhappy with the outcome. They’re either too rambly or I just didn’t want to publish them. So let’s try again…

Lately, I’ve just been re-posting or linking our wedding website blog posts, because at the moment (and for the next 3 weeks) that is what my life consists of. Wedding stuff. Wedding planning. Thinking about the wedding. Talking about the wedding. Making wedding decorations. Talking to wedding vendors. Coordinating everything with the wedding party.

And then there’s the upstate reception the following weekend. So I guess, technically, my life is all wedding for the next 4 weeks.

Deep breath.

So that’s the major excuse for not writing anything new on here. I guess another excuse is that Tom and I got an apartment in Brooklyn (exciting!), but since he works during the day, I’ve been spending a lot of time unpacking, arranging, re-arranging, and cleaning (not as exciting!). A lot.

As a teacher, I have had the summer off, so needless to say I should be having the time of my life, right?

You’re probably thinking, “Well Holliday, aren’t you lucky that you have all this free time to move and unpack and plan a wedding?!”

But you have remember that humans enjoy interaction with other humans. And they like experiencing things with other humans, connecting emotionally by sharing new or familiar experiences.

So I’ve been going stir-crazy being stuck in our apartment by myself for hours on end. With the lack of close friends or family in the city, I’ve been getting pretty lonely. Friends who are closer obviously have day jobs, so they aren’t free until the evenings or weekends. It makes seeing friends that much more special, but those days or weeks in between seeing them are the worst. Ugh, adulthood.

So I guess what I’m getting at is my lack of original blog posts can be chalked up to a lack of inspiration. I mean, if you want to see a bunch of posts about how I’ve been planning my wedding, there are plenty of those. In terms of decorations or making other elements of the wedding, I want to wait until after the wedding to post anything so that it doesn’t spoil the excitement.

But sometimes, you just want to talk about anything but the wedding stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I am no less excited about getting married to my best friend and celebrating with friends and family. And I understand people like hearing updates and how things are going in the wedding area, but it seems that’s all I think or talk about anymore. And it gets tiring (and frustrating) after awhile. So I want to find an outlet so that I can focus on things other than the wedding.

Tom and I recently got two GoPros to record the wedding. We also talked about making YouTube channels and videos. I was all for it, excited to finally do something I’ve thought about and have wanted to do for years.

But what the hell am I going to make them about? Again, there’s a lack of inspiration. I’m just so consumed by the world of weddings, I can barely think of anything to write or talk about. Other than something wedding-related, obviously.

So if you have any suggestions on what you might be interested in seeing in a blog post (or video!) let me know! In the meantime, I’m going to go print out some escort cards.

Look Ma! My self-hosted blog!

I started my blog, Holliday’s Inner Workings, on WordPress.com last March (almost a year ago already!), mostly to improve my writing and communication skills. I had recently moved from my small town upstate to New York City for graduate school at Columbia University, so I figured my blog was a great way to keep friends and family updated with my life.

It took awhile to get into my groove, to find where my personal writing style fit in the blogosphere. Over the next few months, I found that I was getting the best response with my humorous posts about everyday experiences, reviews, or special events. And I was actually getting subscribers from across the WordPress community, not just those friends and family members.

I got engaged in August to my super WordPress-savvy boyfriend, so it was only natural that we should have an awesome wedding website. We obtained a domain and I started learning about the world of plug-ins and CSS. Where have these been all my (blogging) life? Our website was looking amazing (sorry, it’s now expired…just trust me when I say it was cool), and the fact that I was learning more about WordPress was fantastic.

This made me realize just how boring my personal blog was. Now that I knew how to actually do stuff and make things look the way I wanted, I felt constricted, and that was frustrating. Then, about 4 months ago, my desire to self-host my blog was made even greater when I went to WordCamp Raleigh in North Carolina. I actually wrote a whole blog post about my experience and thoughts, so go check that out at your leisure!

After returning from that trip, I decided I was going to take the plunge and self-host my blog. I chose my domain name easily, kept the title Holliday’s Inner Workings, and started going to town on my new website. I went to WooThemes to browse through their theme offerings. I wanted something that emphasized a blogging environment and could act as a good foundation for my desire to customize and make it look the way I want.

I ended up deciding on Peddlar because of its overall appearance and its ability to integrate certain features that I could use. Because this theme’s “usage is intended to be hugely diverse,” I figured I could focus it more on posts rather than e-commerce, photography, etc. And if, down the line, I wanted to integrate more of those aspects into my blog, Peddlar seemed to have the capacity to do so.Peddlar WooThemes

I imported the old posts from my WordPress blog and started playing around with CSS, learning how to change (pretty much) anything I wanted! I was able to make my homepage look the way I wanted. I could finally toy around with plug-ins as well; so far, I’ve stuck with what JetPack offers for statistics and sharing. It wasn’t always easy and a few things took me hours to figure out on my own, but it has been rewarding learning this through my own explorations, making mistakes and triumphs along the way.

When I decided my website was good enough to introduce to the world, I wrote a post about it, letting my subscribers, Facebook friends, and Twitter followers know that I had relocated. Since then, I’ve continued tweaking my website, have redirected my WordPress blog to my new domain, and am happy that I now have the freedom and know-how to customize and personalize it.

Another month bites the dust: 7 months to go!

I hope everyone had great Christmas and New Year’s celebrations; it feels like forever ago already! This post is 50/50 wedding update and rambly blog post/life update. Or maybe it’s more like 30/70…you be the judge.

In the days following my last post, I moved out of my dorm room and into Tom’s parents’ house. And let’s just say it was a miracle that everything fit in his car and still had space to look out the rearview mirror. Except I was crushed under 3 packed bags the entire 2 hour ride home. But I wore my seatbelt. Safety first!packed car

A few days later, we spent Christmas Eve with Tom’s mom’s side of the family. It was so exciting because it was our first Christmas together!!! (Read more about that in last month’s update)

On top of that, I think I’ve worked the past few years on Christmas Eve because Walmart only closes on Christmas Day. Since I never really had plans, I always volunteered to work on Christmas Eve. Let those with families spend the day with them and enjoy some time off. My time will come, some day. Plus, the time-and-a-half won’t hurt my bank account. So this year it was nice to finally have the holidays off.

It had been decently warm for the few days leading up to Christmas, so I was kind of bummed that there wouldn’t be at least a little snow for Christmas. But later on Christmas Eve, after we had eaten dinner, opened our stockings from Tom’s grandma, and nibbled on dessert, lo and behold it started snowing! And they were big, fat flakes! It was so pretty and perfect for Christmas Eve.

When we got home later that night, Tom and I were talking and I mentioned that I hoped he liked the presents I got him. He said something about my possibly getting a present before Christmas. But he never handed me anything or told me to go look behind the desk (A Christmas Story reference, anyone?).

I went to bed, started up Netflix, and checked my emails, only to find that Tom had purchased dance lessons for us! Now we (hopefully) won’t look like complete fools at our wedding! And we can have fun together doing something different! That definitely put a huge smile on my face. 🙂

The next morning, Tom’s sister Casey made the announcement that it was Christmas morning (haha, thanks Case) so we all got up, had a light breakfast, and then it was time for presents. I got all amazing gifts and am so thankful for everything I received (which was way too much).

One of the gifts Tom and I received was an ornament from Casey to celebrate our first Christmas together as an engaged couple. Which is funny because our friends got us one too (a different one) a few days before when we hung out with them! I had mentioned to Tom that we should get one of those ornaments this year, but we never got around to it; now I’m really glad we didn’t!

Ornaments

We spent the rest of the day with his family, his aunt, and grandma, eating dinner and just spending time together. It was such a relaxing and enjoyable day.

The weekend after Christmas was dedicated to traveling upstate to visit my mom, my Godmother Josie, and my friends. All in a matter of 3 days. Yeah, I seriously had a schedule set as to who we saw what day.  I hated feeling like I had to make appointments with people because of our quick visit, but I did not want to leave without seeing everyone. It was a whirlwind weekend, but it definitely filled my heart to full capacity.

Tom and I traveled by bus to Rochester, rented a car, stayed in a hotel, and spent the entire weekend running around, making sure to touch base with everyone we planned to. I’m so thankful that he took a weekend off to do all of that for me. I dragged him all over, and he didn’t complain once. I’m also very thankful that all my friends, my mom, and my Godmother like him…otherwise, there’d be problems.Main St. Pizza friends lunch

We visited my mom Saturday and got to give her our Christmas presents; she’s been pretty down lately because she’s so sick and tired of the nursing home. I know she’s been frustrated and I was hoping that our visit would bring her spirits up a bit. We brought her Chinese food on Sunday, so I think that made her feel a little better too.

She’s also been upset about her inability to attend our wedding. I think she has a newfound determination to make it happen, but I keep assuring her that if she can’t make it we will livestream it for her. Plus, we’re definitely having a separate reception in Batavia soon after. A less stressful situation is much better for her, and I think she would have a much better time with a smaller event with more people she knows (AKA her family).

Before we knew it, it was New Year’s Eve. We stayed home and had hors d’oeuvres that night, watching the NYE festivities on TV. When the clock struck midnight, with Tom by my side, I realized, We’re getting married this year! Yippee!!

Now that I’m done with grad school (hallelujah!!!) and the holidays have passed, I have more time to focus on the remaining pieces of the wedding, as well as finding a job. We got our Save the Dates delivered recently, so my next task is to address and mail those suckers ASAP.

We also had customized labels made to stick on STDs (haha, still can’t get past that) going to people living upstate and elsewhere to announce our separate reception there. That way they know that there is a second option in case traveling 7+ hours by car (1 hour by plane) is too much or whatever the case may be. Second chances are great, right?

My future mother- and sister-in-law ordered their dresses this past weekend! I got to go and see them try dresses on and they look stunning in the ones they chose! I feel like I haven’t been doing much to prepare for this wedding recently, and 7 months feels like forever away, so having that reminder was exciting.

I’ve been putting finishing touches on our wedding website since the URL is on the STDs and (hopefully) people will  start visiting it once those get mailed. I’m really excited because I’ve learned a lot about customizing sites and have finally realized why Tom is so nitpicky about how things look on websites! I find myself judging websites a lot more than I did before…

I’ve also been looking into flowers and think I found a style that I like, so I have to contact a couple florists to see who I like better. I’m hoping that since I have this Friday and next Monday off we can get to the venue to pick out the menu and such. We also have a DJ/MC in mind, so maybe we can check them out this weekend as well. So much to do. Until next month, cheers!

Christmas picture

2013 Reflections and 2014 Ambitions

With 2014 just around the corner (as in less than 12 hours away), I figured I would make a list of “resolutions” for the new year! Yeah!

Now I have some reservations about the idea of making New Year resolutions in January because

  1. I think we should reflect on our lives and have goals for the future all the time, not just when the clock strikes midnight on the 1st of the year.
  2. Being in school for the past 19 years, I guess I’ve been brainwashed in thinking of a “new year” as starting in September. In all those years as a student and future years as a teacher, I’m of the mindset that, “it’s only January; we still have a whole 6 months of the year left.”
  3. I think a lot of times people make these great resolutions with good intentions but without realizing how much they have to change their lifestyle or mindset in order to accomplish them. So as soon as they falter, they don’t have a plan B set in place or a way to get past the roadblock. They end up letting the feelings of defeat get the best of them and, soon after, they simply give up.

Not only did I include goals/resolutions for the upcoming year, I figured I would include regrets and accomplishments from the previous one. So without further ado, let’s get to it!

2013 Achievements:

√  Moved to and lived in New York City

√  Completed graduate school at Columbia University

TC ID

√  Kept my Crohn’s under control

√ Created and maintained a blog (except for the past 3 weeks…but with the holidays and work and completing grad school, I think I have a legitimate excuse)

√  Obtained 3 different jobs in NYC (TA at a private middle school, cashier at a small pharmacy, aide for a high school student)

√  Got engaged – I guess that’s more of an accomplishment for Tom (proposing and getting me to say yes)

Christmas ornaments!

2013 Regrets:

  • Stumbling in my spiritual life and thereby trying to control too many aspects of my life
  • Constantly worrying about what others think of me
  • Lack of self-worth/esteem/ambition/confidence
  • Not reading enough – about the world, about math, about teaching, about God
  • Watching too much YouTube (read about my addiction here) and Netflix (currently on season 5 of Gossip Girl)

2014 Goals:

  • Get married! (this one’s more of an event than a goal…woot!)
  • Get a teaching job (I miss being in the classroom – check me out student teaching back in 2011; I’m the one in purple, holding paper in the front. I know, I get mistaken for a student a lot.)Student Teaching - October 2011
  • Push through the premarital book we were recommended and started last month; I didn’t expect it to be this difficult! Let me give you an explanation:

You see, it’s not so much the discussions we end up having about our roles in the marriage or our expectations or whatever the exercises ask us to do or reflect on. The part I struggle with is the fact that we have to constantly reflect on our parents’ marriage, our relationships with our parents, and just our pasts in general.

These questions honestly make me question who I am because I can’t even rationalize some of my thoughts and thought processes. I end up so deflated after doing an exercise in the workbook that I honestly don’t want to do any more. But I know it’s helpful to look at myself and reflect on my past in order to set my sights on what I want in the future and in our marriage. It’s just tough when you didn’t grow up a cookie-cutter life of two healthy, married parents.

Tom has been a real trooper, coming up with ways to alter some of the exercises so that we don’t have to necessarily focus on those things that frustrate me. For example, one week we had to analyze our expected roles in our marriage. However, the book asked us to write down which of our parents were responsible for which household and/or professional responsibilities. Going through the list, I realized that after the age of 10, I did quite a few of the duties, my dad being absent and Mom’s health not so great. After the age of 15, I did most of them. Gee book, thanks for bringing that up.

Well, since Tom marches to the beat of his own drum and since my parents’ marriage ended when I was young and Mom’s MS made it difficult for her to do things, he suggested we just focus on our marriage because that’s all that really matters at this point. We ended up agreeing on most (with the exception of maybe 1 or 2) of the “roles” we plan to split or share in the book.

  • Buy a house
  • Find a church to attend consistently and become an active member in
  • Keep up with student loans
  • Survive the remaining 6 months of my current job, 4 hour daily commute and all
  • With said 4 hour commute (making for 12 hours out of the house every day), find time to run or go to the gym. Come on, you can’t honestly set resolutions without including health and fitness.
  • Create and use my own math/education blog (this is halfway done already…I created a blog, Chatting About Math, on edublogs.org, but feel like I have nothing to contribute since I am not in the classroom full-time yet)
  • Read more – about the world, about math, about teaching, about God. This should be made easier with my daily commute.
  • Write more – on this blog, on my math blog, maybe contribute to someone’s blog or something?
  • Learn how to argue/debate and stick to my ideas/decisions – this may sound like a weird one, but I tend to avoid arguments or debates because I suck at them. I don’t want to create arguments just for the sake of arguing, but I would like to become better and defending my position on topics.
  • Gain more self-confidence/esteem/ambition/worth and not be so dependent on what others say or think

So there you have it folks. Kind of a long list, I know, but I think there’s a good mix of small and large goals, some more easily obtained than others. What are you most proud of from 2013? What are you most looking forward to in the new year?

I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year’s Eve as well as an amazing 2014! Cheers!Happy New Year