Christmas Eve


‘Twas the the night before Christmas…

  •       Sugar cookies baked. Check
  •       Presents wrapped.  Check
  •       Stockings Stuffed. Check

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!




Something that I did for our first married Christmas (which was just last year) is knit stockings for my husband and I.  Christmas stockings were one of my very favorite parts of Christmas growing up, and so I knew I wanted to so something special for them when it was our turn to make Christmas magic.  I decided to knit them instead of sew them bc I wanted to have that rustic-fair isle-Christmasy sock kind of feel. I didn’t quite have the fabric for that, but I had plenty of yarn!

Fast forward to this Christmas, and I’m making another addition to our stocking family.  I’m making a girly colored one for my baby girl’s first Christmas.  As usual (or as you might be discovering by now) I am running a leeeeetle bit late, but it will still be done by Christmas. Which is in 23 hours. I got this.


The 10 Types of Wrappers


Today was our traditional family gift-wrapping marathon.  It’s a little family tradition that my husband and I invented/embraced last Christmas, which was our first Christmas married.  He had been at Airborne school and had bought my presents and mailed them to me.  (I exercised enormous self-constraint and didn’t peek in a single one!…how mature of me haha)  I had been working and nannying and hadn’t wrapped any of his presents.  So when he came home just a few days before Christmas and we went on a little vacation to spend it alone together, we brought all the presents and wrapped them together for a couple of hours (still not peeking!).

This year, we had an almost proactive present buying season.  Mostly everything arrived on time, and there weren’t TOO many errors.  (It’s okay if the frame I ordered comes shattered in a million pieces…right?)  So I thought for sure that we would very naturally and responsibly wrap presents periodically, as we collected them.  In my mind, by the time Christmas day came, we would have accumulated a magical little stack of wrapped presents, and all we’d have to do is slip them under the tree.  ENTER REALITY.  My husband and I procrastinate.  Both of us.  About the same things.  And who says opposites attract?…:)  So today, only three days before Christmas we were faced with a stack of unwrapped presents and thus began the gift-wrapping marathon.  So at this point we are embracing it as a “family tradition” because there’s no fooling us.  Next year will be the same, people.

But all the wrapping got my mind on the different styles of Christmas wrapping I have encountered.  It inspired me to compose a list of the various wrapping-styles and stylists out there.  Maybe you’ll see yourself on the list!

1.  The Martha Stewart.   They spend quite a bit of money or time on wrapping the presents.  Sheets and sheets of tissue paper.  Big, thick, beautiful gift bags–the expensive kind.  They want the outside of the gift to look just as nice as whatever present it is that they bought.  I like being on the receiving-side of this kind of gift.:)

2.   The Fixer-Upper.   This happens more frequently with adult-to-child presents, but it can sometimes make its way into an adult gift exchange too.  It’s the person who dresses up a present to make it seem bigger and better.  They wonder, “Isn’t this present a little lame?”  And then suddenly an extra bow and some ribbon seems like a way to make it up to the receiver.  We’ve all been there.  Right?  Um…guys? Hehe, me neither.

3.  The Scrooge.   This person puts the item in a gift bag (so much more low maintenance than cutting and taping paper) and veils the present with a  single sheet of white tissue paper.  And yes, it is possible that both gift bag and single sheet of tissue paper are recycled from a gift that scrooge received last Christmas.  And yes, it is possible that in a desperate circumstance I have found myself in a situation that lent itself (read:DEMANDED itself) to occur.

4.  The Thoughtful Planner.  Some people use the wrapping paper to color-coordinate which presents belong to which person.  This makes it easier and faster to sort through the pile of mixed-up presents so that opening can commence as quickly as possible.:)  A very kid-friendly tactic.  I remember one year waking up to a map-key that explained which paper coordinated with which sibling.  (But parents USE CAUTION as it quickly becomes a tool for children to assess which sibling got the most or biggest presents–not that I did that haha).  Another word of warning: make sure you don’t accidentally wrap someone else’s gift in someone else’s paper!

5.  The Traditonalist.  It’s Christmas.  That means no gift bags, or gift card holders, or sneaky little “I’ll-just-put-a-bow-on-it-jobs.”  If it’s a gift, it’s getting smothered in wrapping paper.  And they don’t care if it’s a car.  It will get wrapped.

6.   The It-Arrived-Too-Late-To-Wrap Person.  This is worse than the Scrooges.  This puts procrastination on a whole new level.  This is the person who basically has the “I’ll-just-put-a-bow-on-it” kind of mentality–minus the bow.

7.  The Squared-Away Wrapper.  It has to be square.  No matter what.  This person wraps everything in paper, and so obviously the only way to do that is to put whatever present they are giving in a box.  This can actually turn out to be super thoughtful and extravagant looking.  Who doesn’t love opening a present, only to find a pretty sweater box from a department store?  This can get out of hand though…when you unwrap a gift to find a Cheerio box staring at you, and the giver prompts, “No silly, open it up!”  But you’re thinking…”Why am I the silly one when I opened a Christmas present and see a box of Cheerios and look slightly confused?”

8.  The Wrapping Paper Police.  Each paper can only be used once, and it absolutely has to have a color coordinating bow and ribbon.  Presents that fail to meet expectations during the inspection period (because yes, there is on) must get redone.  There’s no purpose in buying someone a present unless it’s perfect.

9.  The Git-R-Dun Wrapper.  The goal for them is to just get that present covered, no matter the means.  Tape, a decent patch-job, a purposefully placed gift tag to cover up the gap between the paper.  This wrapper is sweet intentioned and tries their best to keep you from knowing what the present is.  But the object here isn’t attractiveness–it’s just getting the job done so you don’t know what you’re about to open.

10.  The Sneak.   This person is above and beyond wanting you to “not know” what you’re about to open.  They are out to get you.  Kind of.  They don’t want you to have even an INKLING about what they got you.  And if they can steer you off-course, even better.  This game can get pretty far.  As in triple-boxing a small item to make it seem big, and tossing a few marbles in to give it a random rolling-effect.  (True story…my husband lives to tell the tale).

Which kind of wrapper are you?  Did I forget someone?




Christmas Traditions


As the most wonderful time of the year swirls around us, and Christmas week becomes a reality instead of a daydream, I find us embracing our family’s “Christmas Traditions.”  My husband and I say we are “creatures of habit” because it is just so true about us, but it especially becomes apparent around the holidays.:)  I’m sure we’ll add traditions to our Christmas repertoire over the years, as this is only our second Christmas married, but I already love the few we have started!

I guess decorating the house, gift giving, and a special family dinner are so embedded in the concept of Christmas Day celebration that we can’t necessarily count those as part of our “traditions.” haha  But they definitely make up a big part of this season for us.  I’m sure they do for you too!

But one thing we add when it comes to presents is that we have a gift-wrapping marathon and try to get everything wrapped in one day.  This one basically evolved from our propensity to procrastinate…but I guess you just have to embrace reality sometimes. 🙂 It is pretty fun, and we make it even more fun with Christmas music and little breaks in between to guess what each other have wrapped.   It’s one of our few little family traditions, and I look forward to it during the present-shopping period of the season!

A tradition we are trying to start this year is making a gingerbread house.  *Don’t tell Santa but…*  I’ve never actually MADE a gingerbread house.  The farthest I got was making big slabs of ginger cookies one Christmas as a teenager.  They never materialized into a house, as we ended up going on a trip for Christmas.  But they made excellent fuel for the road.haha

Maybe another tradition we will try down the road is opening up a gift on Christmas Eve after Midnight Mass.  I know sometimes people use that as an opportunity to gift pajamas for Christmas morning (and photos) the next day.  Is there any traditions that you want to try?  What are your family Christmas traditions?


Why “Its Different for Everyone”


I think one of the most frustrating responses I get as an Army wife is “But…it’s different for everyone.”  When my husband left for Basic Training, I had so many questions.  When would we find out his next assignment?  When would we get dates for moving?  Would he be allowed to come get me and help me move or did I have to do it myself?  Would the Army make the arrangements for moving or did I need to?  Etc…etc…etc!

Whether I was reading an article online, or talking to a representative on the support line, often the answer was cushioned with the precaution…”but, it’s different for everyone.”  That nebulous phrase was a difficult one to handle because all I wanted was an exact answer, and nobody could guarantee one!  But after I found out the answers to all my questions (though more still arise as the year goes on) I finally understand why everyone kept telling me that.

If the question related to how my soldier was going to be treated, it “varied” because the chain of command varied by individual.  So at Basic, if I wondered if my soldier would get to call me, it varied on the personality of the drill sergeant, and how well the rest of my soldier’s platoon buddies were behaving.   If my question was about moving, it varied on the timing and situation of my move.  So if my soldier was currently in an Army training school, then no, he couldn’t just stop and come help me move.  However, if he was assigned to a unit, then his chain of command would give him the opportunity to come and help me PCS.  Lastly, if my question was a more broad one, like “what are our options for places we could get assigned to?” it all just depends on your soldier’s MOS (basically his position in the Army).  Infantry typically get assigned to certain stations, and Tankers get assigned to other certain stations, etc.

Maybe no one will ever be in the exact same situation as you, but there are often social media support groups where you can try to find someone who has been in a similar boat–or is in it too!  Always be careful not to post anything too detailed or private, depending on the situation, as it might endanger your soldier.  But don’t be afraid to find a battle buddy…and remember you can always ask me!  I might not know the answer, but I may know someone that does!

While it didn’t help at the time to hear “but…it’s different for everyone,” at least now I know why people always said it.  And even though I still don’t enjoy hearing it when I’m trying to get an answer, at least I know they are right!  Hopefully, the next time you hear it, you won’t mind as much too!



The Army–Unknown

I think something that holds a lot of Americans back from the US Army, whether that is joining it, or marrying into it, is that there is a lot of unknowns.  It’s not a bad thing–the elusiveness keeps the Army special and unique, and it’s not a terrible security tactic either.:)  However, it would be a shame if unknown aspects of the Army and its lifestyle deterred families from being able to be a part of it.  It’s often the “everyday” and non-secretive aspects of the Army that prospective soldiers and spouses so often wonder about.  And those topics are a definite subject of interest for this blog!

There were many times so far in my husband’s short career that both he and I had questions we wanted answered.  Some were simple things like “how likely are we to get assigned to such and such place?”   Others were more in-depth, like “what is the exact process for PCSing?”  There wasn’t always a lot of information out there online, and unless you have friends or family in the military, it isn’t likely you’ll find your answers anywhere else!!

I’d like to spend some time in some future (sooner rather than later!) blog posts answering some of the questions that I had before, and sharing what I have discovered to be true.  Also, I’d like to dispel a few myths that I hear passed around too!   It would be ideal if my husband posted a few things too, because he knows the answers to the actual job-related questions first-hand.:)  Leave a comment below if there is a specific topic you want covered!


The Perfect First Pet

IMG_20151218_221509    Guinea pigs make the perfect first pet for a child.  Of course, to this day they are still the perfect pet to me.:). I think a lot of parents are hesitant to buy a pet for a child because they worry that he or she won’t be able to take care of them.  While this is definitely a valid concern, its equally concerning (if not more) that some parents will buy a “test” pet to “teach” young ones responsibility.  No animal should be used as a test, but some are naturally good at teaching a child about responsibilty.

A fish, for instance, eats readily like a dog, but doesn’t come with the same personality traits that could confuse a child, like barking to play or eat. (Or if you’re a husky owner like me, they are vocal about everything haha.) A child might mistake the barking for dissatisfaction or even sometimes agression, and may not understand if they are doing a good job or not.  But the child sees the fish respond to good care and learns that taking good care of the fish is manageable, rewarding, and important. –As a side note, I personally believe a dog makes ever family happier, and is a great asset to childhood :)–but I believe a dog is a big responsibility and is better shared as a family pet than as a young child’s sole responsibility.–

So again, I don’t believe a fish or a guinea pig should be purchased for the purpose of teaching or testing a child’s capacity to be responsible.  No animal should!  But in terms of children’s pets, I think that a guinea pig is ideal a very good place to start.

First and foremost, a guinea pig is very responsive and loving.  They reward an attentive owner with adorable antics and gentle cuddling.  They coo and squeak when pet, and are always ready for a game of crawl-to-the-treat.  When a child participates firsthand in a relationship built on quality time and caretaking, it reinforces positive behavior.  It gives the child a sense of bonding, and how giving of oneself can so often result in a gift in return.

Secondly, guinea pigs make an excellent first pet is because they are naturally social.  A child won’t have to work and work to get the animal to a friendly state, because the guinea pig will be naturally curious and  attentive. It’s not that training is a bad thing! However this just makes it easier for a newbie pet owner to bond and play with the animal.  It allows positively with the pet on all sides, and leaves more time for fun with the guinea pig!

Another reason, similar to the previous paragraph, is that guinea pigs are naturally sweet tempered and docile.  Yes, I did have an overly curious and energetic guinea pig, 🙂 however that took nothing away from his docility! I think that people often mistake rodent pets to all be one and the same, but guinea  pigs stand out from the pack in the simple fact that they are incredibly sweet and well-behaved.  Their tendency isn’t to chew on computer cords if they escape (unless your cord is made out of carrots!). And their tendency is not to bite or scratch or kick…all they want to do is squeal and play and eat. Docility definitely can’t be overlooked when choosing a pet for a child!

Maybe my favorite thing about guinea pigs, that makes them the perfect pet (for all ages!!) is just how cute and loving they are.  Guinea pigs will always give back affection they are shown, and will delight anyone with their adorable antics.  I couldn’t have asked for better little friends than the five sweet buddies I have owned.  Whenever I go to the Pet store and see them rooting around in their cages, I’m reminded of my cute little pets, and how they really did make me so happy as a kid.  I highly recommend them to any family looking to adopt a child-friendly pet…and I look forward to the day that I adopt another one myself!