December 2015 in the Books

December 2015 is history. As usual, I’m always a little sad to see December end after all the anticipation and build up of the season. I’m trying to get excited about Valentine’s Day so I have something new to look forward to and help motivate me to pack away the Christmas decorations. Before I get ahead of myself, let’s wrap up December.

2 – Pounds gained, overtime and extra holiday busyness aren’t good for my workout routine.

2 – Blog posts.December 2015 cards

3 – Books read, my favorite was The Paperbag Christmas by Kevin Alan Milne.

4 – Social events including a Christmas Eve brunch.

6 – Projects completed, including a bar stool overhaul.

35 – Christmas cards mailed.

36 – Photos posted on Instagram.

48 – Rolls made to take to Christmas dinner. Since there was only 7 of us eating, I have a couple dozen in my freezer.

401 – Page views on Just Wanna Be Me.

114185 – Pinterest views.

Top Blog Posts

  1. Book Theme Party
  2. Celebrating Thanksgiving Just for Me
  3. Pizza Nachos
  4. Prophets & Brownies FHE
  5. I’ll Be Home for Christmas

Please share what made your Christmas magical in the comments section. I hope your New Year will be a healthy and happy one.

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Celebrating Christmas Just for Me Takeaways

With the struggles I had celebrating Thanksgiving, I was discouraged with how far I have to go to figure out how to celebrating Christmas in a way that brings me joy, instead of focusing on making them special for my children. Celebrating Christmas lights

I still watched Christmas movies, to the point that where I questioned my decision to get rid of cable. Truth be told, I broke down and subscribed to a couple of channels on Roku to get my Christmas movie fix. I listened to Christmas music on Pandora sometimes when I was home, but I just mixed it in with the other songs on my iPod. It didn’t encompass me like it has in other years. I love looking at Christmas lights, but walking around the neighborhood by myself isn’t nearly as fun.

Celebrating Christmas CardsWorking made it harder to find the time to make my own Christmas cards, so I bought some really nice ones at the thrift store this year. The only crafting I did was with my grandsons; their cute little hand prints are still sitting on my counter waiting to be painted. Buying the perfect gift for anyone was elusive. I struggled to enjoy the season and not miss the Christmases like when the kids were little.

I’m so grateful when it all came together on Christmas Eve eve when my son was excitedly making a thoughtful gift, and my girls were wrapping caramels, while I made Christmas breakfast. As we laughed and talked, a feeling of Christmas wrapped around me and I felt at peace. The feeling continued the next morning when the kiddos were happy with their gifts (even the ones I started second guessing myself) and graciously received the “practical” gifts with gratitude and appreciation.

Those moments help clarify what I want. Now to learn how to achieve those moments more consistently, even when I’m on my own. What are your secrets to feeling the spirit of Christmas?

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November 2015 in the Books

Christmas season is in full swing and I want to review November before it gets away completely. I can’t believe December is a third of the way over and I’m just barely wrapping up November. I have so many ideas I want to write about, now if I could just get that whole time thing under control.

1.6 – Pounds gained, I guess my boost in exercise was not enough to offset the holiday goodies.

2 – Pies made, both of them were Chocolate Mousse Praline Pecan.November 2015 lights

2 – Books read, only one was an insurance book.

3 – Blog posts this month! It’s been way to long since this poor blog had that much attention.

5 – Social events; there was a Girls Night Out, a Blogger event that introduced my to barre (no Mom, there wasn’t any drinking involved), a studio tour that made yearn for more time to be creative, Zoolights, and of coarse Thanksgiving.

18 – Projects completed, some of them were fun and others I’m just glad to have out of the way.

November 2015 leaves23 – Photos added to Instagram.

41 – Leaves on my gratitude tree

48 – Rolls made for Thanksgiving, that and the pie is my favorite part of the dinner.

1458 – Just Wanna Be Me page views, it’s nice to see the extra attention to my blog paid off.

82,733 – Just Wanna Be Me Pinterest viewers.

With the holidays and National Write a Novel Month happening in November, everyone is busy. I’d love to hear about your successes, attempts and accomplishments in the comment section below!

Most Popular Pinterest Boards in November 2015

  1. Treats
  2. Dinners
  3. Writing
  4. Breakfast
  5. Home Decor

Top November 2015 Just Wanna Be Me Pages

  1. Thanksgiving Pack Meeting
  2. Pizza Nachos
  3. Gratitude Tree
  4. Prophets and Brownies FHE
  5. Book Theme Party

 

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Celebrating Thanksgiving Just for Me

Celebrating Thanksgiving with older kids splitting their time between me and their dad was tricky. Unlike Halloween, the focus of Thanksgiving is on family. It was more challenging to find substitutes for tradition.

My childhood Thanksgivings were spent with extended family or at a buffet in a casino in Lake Tahoe. The food at the buffet was amazing, but I preferred the family gatherings even when I was the only kid.

One of the benefits of marrying into a large family was the awesome Thanksgivings. Despite our large numbers, my in-laws were always welcoming those who weren’t able to share Thanksgiving with their own families. My own parents even joined their family several times, which was convenient for me to have everyone in the same place.

After moving to Arizona, I  hosted smaller Thanksgivings with local family and we adopted family members along the way. Wednesday was pie day, as in the day we prepared for Thanksgiving by baking the stuffing Thanksgiving pieingredients – and of coarse pie. Thursday morning we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade while I started cooking, and the kids would complain about the boring parts (now they say the whole thing is the boring part). After eating too much with family and friends, we’d play street hockey or take a walk to make room for the pies we made the day before. Finally, we’d wind down by watching Elf. It was the official transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas. The remainder of the weekend Fall decorations would be replaced with Christmas, and the TV and radio played non-stop Christmas movies and music.

This year my goal was to have dinner when the teenagers will be home, invite the rest of my loved ones and be grateful for whoever could make it. I planned activities for my grandsons and the older folks too. But like I said before, Thanksgiving is about family. So I adjusted my plan to have a smaller dinner with my parents and boyfriend and join the rest of my family, and my ex-husband, for dessert at my daughter’s house.

I spent some time with my family, but I let my anxiety about the situation keep me from enjoying it and watched my hopes for the day slip away. After a few days I was able to look for ways I can improve future holidays, and I’m choosing to focus on the expressions of love from this Thanksgiving:Thanksgiving

  • A long phone call from my daughter in New York, I was even able to talk to her new boyfriend who appreciated the fun things I do with my family.
  • My mom put a leaf on our gratitude tree that said “spending the day with my daughter”.
  • Overhearing my boyfriend share with my step dad how proud he is of how well I’m doing with my education goals.

There’s plenty of room for improvement as I continue trying to learn to celebrate in a way that brings joy to my heart. Fortunately, the Christmas season is upon us and I’m already practicing what I learned!

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Halloween Recap

Halloween Mummy PizzasAs I was preparing my blog post about celebrating Thanksgiving for just me, I realized it’s important to review what worked for Halloween so I can make any necessary adjustments. I actually had a lot of fun even on Halloween though I didn’t spend it with my kiddos. Not everything turned out like I had planned but it was still okay.

  • I ruined my costume when I tried to clean it.
  • My mummy pizzas weren’t as much of a hit at the work potluck, but my kids enjoyed the leftovers.
  • The pumpkin contest was a flop with only two entries. Mine is non-traditional enough that I left it up as a fall decoration.

But several things were really good.

  • Halloween Bean Bag TossMy boyfriend and I spent the afternoon decorating the driveway for the trick-or-treaters. Including a ginormous chalk jack-o-lantern drawn on the driveway.
  • We played several rounds of Trivia Crack in between the waves of crowds.
  • All but one kiddo played along with our giant bean bag toss. We asked them if they wanted to toss the bean bag for a chance to win bonus candy or prizes. If the bean bag landed in the nose, mouth or eyes they got extra candy. If they landed on the eye brows, they got a banana. We gave away 2 bananas. If the bean bag landed on one of the pumpkin’s eye balls, they got a pineapple. We still had the pineapple at the end of the night.

Our activities kept me busy and interacting with the kids, but it brightened the night of those who stopped by my house. I loved watching the change in their faces from trudging down the street robotically saying “Trick of Treat” to their eyes lighting up for something different. Some of the teenagers were the most fun, they wanted the rules repeated for clarity and focused intently on their tosses. The celebration when one of them won a banana was impressive.

Overall Halloween was a success. I enjoyed my activities and interactions with my neighbors. It’s good to have a baseline game plan for next year.

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