Such a Florida baby -- I sure do love stepping outside barefoot in December and being able to enjoy the scenery.
Being away from family, fun and familiar surroundings, we get into such a normal routine -- working, school, exams, and everything in between. We tend to get so caught up in the normalcy of a routine that we sometimes forget all the things that really matter in life. A break from normalcy, time with family, and beautiful weather reminds us of the fun we need to stop and soak up once in a while throughout life. A little fueling up to carry us on until the next time we get a moment like that was just what we needed. And when we fuel up, we're good to go -- we feel fulfilled, comforted, and are able to enjoy ourselves, each other, and everything in between just a tad bit more. Then when it starts wearing off again, a quick little break from normalcy is what we need until the next time. I think this goes for just about everyone. Luckily, this trip was well beyond what we needed. It exceeded our expectations and I was thankful to get this much time to spend with each other and our families in a beautiful atmosphere. We were busy in the best kind of way.
Our house before we left. Our first time putting presents under our own tree!
I've learned just how much I love Christmas in Florida. J and I strolled past palm trees that lined the beach. The breeze hit our faces and was just the right temperature as we stared out at the waves illuminated by moonlight. And those palm trees, those dang palm trees -- they were blowing in the wind creating the soothing sound of swaying palm fronds trickling past each other. I took multiple gazes at each tree as we walked past them. We proceeded to speak about how much we used to drive down to the beach at night to spend time together in high school -- and back then, we didn't think twice about anything in the aforementioned description. It was all just a part of our normal landscape. But being there now, oh how we loved it!
Where else can you see this in December?
Well, okay, I know you can see this other places in December. But not where we live now!
We arrived with only one day to spare before Christmas Eve, finished up any last minute gifts and Christmas prep, and woke up Christmas Eve ready to celebrate with family.
Here are just some of the things I loved about Christmas Eve 2011:
Playing pool by the pool out back- barefoot.
Beautiful decorations that set just the right mood.
Me looking for someone who knows how to play Christmas tunes on the piano. Success - Maggie could play Jingle Bells!
Getting gifts that seem to make an awesomely-goofy photo
A champagne toast with the Barr's/Esser's (I prefer listening to the toast rather than drinking the champagne!)
Fun gifts like this...
Reinbeers I made for my brother and father-in-law using pipe cleaners and pom-poms
Staying true to Christmas traditions...A wide array of cold cut sandwiches on Christmas Eve served with delicious crock-pot soup (Corn chowder..Mmm!)
I also loved the incredible spread of appetizers, sitting out back with ice cold beer and a nice Florida breeze, hearing new (but actually old) stories from the grandparents, opening stockings at the Barr household, and the beautiful Christmas mass that we attended in the church we were married in 6 months prior.
But most important...my favorite part was just being able to spend time with family!
And as for Christmas Day..here are a few of my favorite moments:
Waking up to a Santa-Claus visited home and seeing the eyes of a 1 year old light up
All throughout the year, we make comments like "This is just like Christmas morning!" or "He was so excited, you'd think it was Christmas morning!" And this was that moment. That feeling of Christmas morning where you just feel so blessed to be in that moment.
Heading over to Heather's house to spend the day with our big, crazy, fun, hot-mess-of-a-family :)
A champagne toast with the Cahill/Hickey/Quinn/Smollett/McDonald/Vicario/Barr family. Whew, that's a lot! Lot's of married women adding to the wide array of names :)
Notes like this...written by Tyler!
Tyler - I feel the same way you do, buddy!
Spending time with the girls..whether we're really doing something in the kitchen or just pretending..spending time is spending time, right?!
Dancing, dancing, and more dancing. Michael Jackson:The Experience on X-Box Kinect... oh boy, this got rediculously fun! haha, we had 4 generations up dancing at once. GG, Aunt Kath, myself, and the kids. Arianna included. Everyone joined in at sometime or another!
Check out our Michael Jackson impersonator in the red jacket!
And most importantly here..spending time with the family!
Our attempt at taking a family picture...
anddd...we got it!
Thanks, Aunt Kath, for using your sweet coordination skills! :)
We sure did miss brotha Bill, but J and I had him over before we left for a pre-Christmas evening
We thoroughly enjoyed Christmas. Being able to celebrate such a joyous occasion with the people that mean the most to us is truly a blessing. We are beyond thankful to have each and every family member in our lives and love what each one brings to the table. And as always, we all missed you, Krissy. We know you were with us in spirit...you would have loved making a fool of yourself dancing to Michael Jackson with the rest of us :)
After we began bottling up the joy of Christmas and putting it away until next year, we looked forward to spending the rest of our trip doing whatever it is that makes us happy.
Some of those times included:
Catching up with old friends..
Thank you for having us over, Gina and Dom! Dinner was delicious, drinks were ...probably too many, and the memories were just like the old times! Our college days were relived.
Enjoying the view outside those first-time homebuyer's home :) Beautiful!
Outdoor lunches...you can't beat that atmosphere!
Days spent at the beach condo
The awesome Christmas tree at the condo...
And a special New Year's Eve that we rang in with family, good friends, and a great atmosphere... Kahuna's beach bar!
Here's to 2012!!
And for each of these captured moments, there was at least one other memorable moment that I will keep neatly tucked away in my jar of memories. Having a delicious Christmas breakfast with Mom and Grandma, my sister's little family, and J and I was a nice way to start the day. Watching a Seminole win with family and friends was another great one. A day spent on the couch with Mom, Grandma, Aunt Kathy, and Arianna was relaxing and needed. A pamper party for Catherine before the baby comes was a great time with all her close women (pictures to come!). Exploring the familiar surroundings that brought back cozy memories felt right. Bouncing back from house to house and family to family as well as friends can be a struggle at times, but such a wonderful struggle to have. We lived out of suitcases and slept at - I can't even count how many different houses - and spent time with all types of family and friends. While we may have complained once or twice about living out of suitcases at a variety of houses, we didn't once complain of being bored...and that's what I love! The constant craziness of being down there feels so good, and we are all fueled up until the next time.
and now for a few specialties...
We would like to wish Grandma and Grandpa Esser a very Happy 57th Anniversary today! What an amazing milestone that the rest of us can all look at with pure happiness and hope for the same type of joy 57 years beyond our wedding dates. Hope it's a great one!
We'd also like to congratulate some of our best friends on their engagement. Gina and Dom -- congrats to both of you! This is such an exciting time in your lives and you both deserve the best. Here's to 57+ more years of happiness for the two of you :)
And to our sister, brother-in-law, and niece -- enjoy these last couple days as a little family of 3! Soak up every moment together in the calm before the storm as we await your new bundle of joy set to make her debut on Wednesday. Congrats and good luck to the Vicario's! Can't wait to meet our precious niece.
And to everyone else -- thank you for being a special part of our lives and for helping to make 2011 such a memorable year for us. Here's to 2012 being just as amazing -- we wish you good health, happiness, and joy in all you do :)
Happy New Year!