Things I Love Thursday

There is only one thing I can think of loving this week.

Him.

 

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Fashion must be in my Blood

Maybe it is just because my Grandma is an artist- but she is so totally fashionable! I found some photos from the 60’s-80’s with my family in it, and discovered that her fashion sense has always been fabulous! I was lucky enough to get copies of the slides (my grandpa is also an amazing photographer) and wanted to share them with you!

This first photo struck me as funny- this is my sense of style as well! Sport jacket, jeans and fun socks! I absolutely love that grandpa was able to capture this on photo!

This photo just stuns me. Not only am I totally in love with her outfit (a white, lacy top and the pink and white chevron skirt!), but that shes on the floor cleaning up just makes me smile. Also, the fact that grandpa thought that was photo-worthy made me smile.

I love this sweater. This whole photo had to have been planned, the perfection of the sweater, the colors, the background, it is all so perfect! I also love that this is such a calm photo- no evidence of the chaos I know my mother and aunt were causing for her.

This has to be one of my favorite photos EVER. I love all of their outfits, but the facial expressions of everyone fits their personalities so well! (Suzanne is like me, happy to sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else be silly.) Again, grandma and I are sharing style, (jeans and a t-shirt!). My mom’s red hair? I’ve been considering going that exact color for a while now. I may just do it soon!

Farrah Faucet hair! That mixed with the cute knitted vest and blouse is adorable! LOVE IT.

I adore this photo of my mom and my Aunt. This is from the early 80’s, but is so totally adorable. (I probably love it so much because this is who I see whenever I look at them!) There is an entire photo series that grandpa took of these, and this one is my favorite because we all know they were cracking jokes and laughing at grandpa, who is behind the lens.

Now for a lack of fashion sense. This is a Christmas morning photo. Everyone looks so cute- however, look at my Uncle in the right hand corner. I’m pretty damn sure he borrowed that robe from Huge Hefner. He is the fashion black sheep in our family.

Is your family full of fashionistas? Have fun photos to share?
If you post them send me a link- I love looking at old photos and of fantastic fashion!

Bunny Love: Tips People Never Told Me

Taz at 8 weeks old

I’ve mentioned before that I am the mommy of a fur-baby; this is my baby boy Taz. He is a mini-lop/lion head breed bunny (75% mini-lop and 25% lion head- you can see the lion head when he lies down and when he was really little). We got him as a therapy animal for my depression, it was a suggested treatment for both of us and has worked quite well.

There are lots of things no one told me about bunnies and bunny care that I had to learn for myself. Instead of making you guys do the same, I figure I’ll post my best tips and tricks and share them with you.

  1. Yogurt treats from the pet store have been a waste with my bunny. He wont even give them the time of day. If you buy a cage kit from a pet store they may come with yogurt treats. Use that as your guide- he never grew into them and won’t touch them. He has also been given other snacks from the pet store that he just isn’t fond of, don’t buy a big pack if you can help it.
  2. Paper. My bunny LOVES paper! He has an “OCD” personality (each bunny has their own personality, and you have to decide which personality fits your bunny best), and he organizes his cage often. When we give him paper, he is a happy man. He will organize it into piles (stuffing it into corners, his log, or simply playing with them by tossing them around), shred them, or simply use them as extra bunny bedding. We use old phone books- they last forever!
  3. Salt Licks. No one told us to get one, we just kind of assumed that we should get one when we found Taz licking Bubba’s feet one night. We figured he didn’t have a foot fetish, so we got a salt lick for him- he hardly uses it but has helped his diet.
  4. You can potty train bunnies. No joke. Give them a bowl simply for feces and watch where they go potty in their cage. Put the bowl there and they’ll use the bowl just for potty trips. You need to change it out daily or they’ll quit using it, but it definitely helps with keeping their home clean and stink free.
  5. “Free range bunnies.” Lots of people let bunnies roam through the house. If you choose to do so, you need to keep them out for quite some time. We have to keep an eye on our furry one to make sure he doesn’t get into things he shouldn’t; wires, small spaces, behind big furniture (Where he could get stuck). We discovered early on he likes to nibble on the carpet, so we proactively play with him to avoid damage to the floors. We have toys for him simply for when he is out of his cage – empty coke-cola containers, lids, socks (he likes to play tug of war with them) and a bunny ball (a wicker ball with a bell in it).
  6. Snacks- fruits and veggies are the best. We did find one pet store treat he likes, its popcorn for bunnies! We heat them up in the microwave for 45 seconds and he loves it. Otherwise we give him oranges (we cut it into small slices so he doesn’t eat the peel), green beans, broccoli, celery, carrots and apples. He loves fruits and veggies and its helpful to us, because they smell good!

    Taz after a bath

  7. They say that bunnies need noises to help stimulate their minds and keep them from going stir crazy. If I’m not home for a few hours at a time or going to lie down for a nap during the day I turn on the television or my Itunes and put something on for him. It keeps him from acting up and misbehaving later.
  8. Get a bunny bath that you just need to spray and rub into their fur. We tried bunny bath (for the bathtub- THAT was a joke), we tried letting him bathe himself (the advice from the pet store we bought the cage from), but per the guy we bought our bunny from the spray and rub spray worked best for these little guys. Taz loves this because we cradle him, spray him, pet him to rub it in and then I give him a good, long brushing. He usually falls asleep, but loves it. He smells good all week!
     If only I would’ve known all of this when we first got our bunny I think we all would’ve had more fun sooner and enjoyed our times together instead of the ‘what is he doing?’, ‘what does he want?’ phases. What bunny advice did I miss? Do you have anything to add? Add your best bunny advice in the comments below!

Things I Love Thursday – Christmas Edition

Its just DAYS before Christmas, and it is by far my favorite time of the year! Nothing is more magical and more amazing than this time of the year, look around! Look at the children, look at how excited they are! I LOVE Christmas!

This week there are lots of things I love! Lets start with these photos… two of my FAVORITE!

Nothing is more special to me than a capturing the magic that only kids can see and feel. I took this photo last year of one of my husbands cousins… so cute!

This is my father in law and one of his great nieces. My father in law is a SUCKER for kids, and as you can tell, they are a sucker for him too! Every time I see this photo I think of the classic childrens story, ‘If you give a mouse a cookie.’ Isn’t she adorable?!

Other things I am loving this week: Cheesy Potato Soup. My mother in law makes it every year for a family party, and we always get to take home leftovers! Yum!

Cookies! We have so many different kinds of cookies at our house right now. Snickerdoodles. Sugar Cookies. Chocolate Chip. Maple Bars. Christmas is definitley not for the healthy eaters, or the diabetics!

Ethnic Christmases! This year we are celebrating Scottish/Irish on Friday and German on Saturday (my Oma’s is always German, and always wonderful! Irish will be an adventure!). I am so excited that we do this each year and am excited to include my baby in these traditions next year.

What do you love this week?

 

Grandma’s Ethnic Christmases

My grandmother is a special woman, she is very cultured, very “high class” so to speak. Growing up, Grandma wasn’t into the whole traditional grandmother scene. She didn’t bake us chocolate chip cookies and take us to the park to play. Grandma took us to the museum, to art galleries, to the opera and symphony.

So it’s not that shocking that she refused to do a traditional all-American Christmas. Grandma did ETHNIC Christmases.

What exactly is an ethnic Christmas?

An ethnic Christmas is where we place all sorts of countries in a bowl and draw one out. Then, depending on the country that we drew we would serve food from that country, read traditional stories from that country, share artwork and receive gifts that would be traditional for that country.

Grandma isn’t popular with my dad and uncle when it comes to gifts; she gives boxes of rice and bags of oranges. In her defense, I probably would give them oranges over a bad tie any day too. When it came to ethnic Christmases they were definitely not big fans, but they did provide hilarious commentary.

We did this for quite a few years, the countries we drew out were Canadian (yes, they have different traditions than us apparently!), German (not a huge one for me since I am 75% German anyways and celebrate a traditional German Christmas yearly), Swedish, Nordic, Spanish and English. When we drew out France my grandpa put an end to this tradition, he refused to eat anything French, no matter how good or bad it was.

At first it was dull, and I really struggled to appreciate it. I wanted a NORMAL Christmas, but Grandma wanted her family to be well educated and appreciative of what we have. So we went with it. The first year wasn’t so bad, nor was the second year, and frankly, I didn’t appreciate it until we got to the third year, our Swedish Christmas.

This was the year that Grandma found ornaments from that country. This was the one I received, and as odd as it looks, I really liked it. We had Swedish meatballs for dinner and joked about how we should’ve had a family field trip to Ikea to help celebrate the season. From there on, it just kept getting more interesting.

The next year my Grandma shared stories from Norway, their traditions, beliefs and values. We learned about the vikings, about the mythology of the Vikings and how they celebrated Christmas. The next Christmas was a Spanish Christmas, and I was so excited to learn more about people. For whatever reason, people fascinated me.

Spanish Christmas came with rice, beans, and chips. My Uncle suggested we go to Cafe Rio instead of Grandma’s for Christmas dinner, my dad joked about how we could’ve hired a hispanic to cook for us. We listened to Feliz Navidad and for the first time, we all got into it. Our stockings were filled with Rice again and cans of beans. We laughed it off.

The last ethnic Christmas we had was an English Christmas. This was a big one for Grandma, who is big into our family history. She told us all about our ancestors and how they celebrated Christmases in England. We listened to Christmas carols sung with a Geordie accent. We got ornaments and knock-off Burberry scarves.

That next year, when Grandpa drew the line for the French Christmas was also the last healthy Christmas Grandma had. Her other kidney started to fail her and it was difficult for her to get into the holiday season. She ordered pizzas the next year for dinner, we listened to traditional music, Grandpa fell asleep watching the nightly news and we got notebooks and journals for Christmas. I miss those ethnic Christmases. I miss learning about people, and most of all I miss Grandma’s eyes light up as we all sat in her living room, listening to her and Grandpa read the stories and mythology she researched.

If you ever have a chance to have an ethnic Christmas, I highly recommend it. Even if it is just for one year, it is very unique and very fun.

Cut Down on Holiday Stress

Originally, I wanted to write my own article on how to cut down on Holiday stress. After some googling and lots of consideration, I decided that this article says exactly what I wanted to say, and then some.

Here is the original article link, published in Psychology Today. (Medical junkies, I reccomend this magazine/newsletter. It’s fantastic!) I own none of this article!

10 Common Holiday Stresses and How to Cope with Them

Tips for managing the anxiety of the season.
Published on November 12, 2011 by Pamela Wiegartz, Ph.D. in In the Age of Anxiety

The holidays can be demanding for many reasons, but if you’re prone to anxiety they can be downright overwhelming.   The gifts, the parties, the baking, the family—or perhaps the absence of these things—can make the season stressful, chaotic or just plain lonely.

But even in the midst of all this holiday hubbub, you can take control of your anxiety.  With some practical strategies for managing the stress of this season, you may even end up enjoying this frenetic time of year.  Look for these common holiday complaints in your life and use the tips below to find peace and joy in this year’s holiday season:

1.) I can’t get it all done! The entertaining, shopping, travel and myriad other tasks that accompany the holidays can just feel like too much on top of an already-packed schedule.  If you are feeling pulled in too many different directions, take a moment to slow down.  Take the opportunity to plan menus and consider gift ideas ahead of time.  Make lists of the items you will need and then give yourself a few days to add anything you may have forgotten before heading out to brave the crowds.  By organizing, prioritizing and grouping tasks together, you can minimize the stress of multiple trips to the grocery store or mall and avoid last minute scrambling.

2.) I can’t afford this! Beginning in September (or maybe even August!) we are bombarded with television and magazine ads depicting holiday tables overflowing with food and gifts stockpiled under beautifully decorated fir trees.  It is easy to overspend in an attempt to reach these holiday expectations.  Set a budget and avoid the temptation to stray.  When you are making your gift lists, determine how much you can spend on each person and stick with it!  Consider pooling resources to buy group gifts for friends.  Draw names from a hat and buy gifts for one family member rather than all of them.  Think about handmade gifts like baked goods, ornaments or a recipe book or photo album.  Or give the gift of time by babysitting for a friend or helping your grandmother clean her attic-it’s free and often the most thoughtful present you can give.

3.) This isn’t how I thought it would be! The holidays come packed with high expectations.  Norman Rockwell and Martha Stewart have irreversibly colored our visions of what the holiday season “should” be, making it difficult to not be disappointed by reality.  Lower your expectations.  Try for a “good enough” holiday season.  By keeping expectations realistic and focusing on what’s really important to you, you may just find that your “good enough” holiday turns out to be “pretty great” after all.

4.) I can’t stand my family! This is the time of year when families feel compelled to come together in peaceful, loving harmony—whether they like it or not!  If your family is truly abusive, unpleasant or unhealthy for you, know that you have the choice to decline spending time with them.  If like most families, however, they are just mildly irritating, boastful, opinionated or hypercritical, use this opportunity to practice your coping and communication skills.  Pick your battles—do you really want to argue about politics or ancient slights over turkey and stuffing with the whole family witnessing?  Let it go for one day.  Walk away and take a break if that works best.  If you need to sort through personal and ideologic differences, find another time when you can discuss these things privately.  Set the tone by doing your best to not criticize others and to accept your family for who they are-likely imperfect and often times annoying-but family nonetheless.

5.) I’m lonely! On the flip side, this season can often be a time when the absence of family or social connections becomes highlighted.  If you are far from family, try creative ways to connect with them like email, videos or Skype.  If you find yourself feeling alone, look for local holiday concerts or community events to attend.  Find out if any co-workers may also be far from family or without holiday plans and have a potluck.  Consider spending your time giving to someone else in need.  Volunteer at a local soup kitchen or food pantry or distribute gifts to needy children. Helping someone else makes you feel good and can broaden your social relationships.

6.) I hate crowds! I recall being stuck in an hours-long traffic jam one Thanksgiving Eve while my car radio blared Andy Williams’ The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.  The irony was not lost on me.  Sometimes you just have to laugh.  The traffic, crowds and interminably long lines are, unfortunately, as much a part of the season as cranberry sauce and candy canes.  But instead of frustration or anger, try humor, kindness or mindfulness.  If you’re stuck in traffic, use the time to call an old friend and catch up.  If you’re waiting in line, strike up a conversation with someone else waiting.  If the crowds are rattling your nerves, take the opportunity to notice the sights and sounds around you.  Take deep breaths and try to relax, accept that this is an inevitable part of the season but only a temporary inconvenience.

7.) I have too many parties! The holiday season is packed with cookie exchanges, work parties and school plays.  It can be entirely overstimulating.  Remember that it’s okay to say “no” to some things.  Choose wisely.  Don’t spend your time at a party with people whose company you don’t really enjoy when you could be home with your family or making a dent in your holiday shopping.   Friends and family will understand if you can’t attend every social gathering.

8.) I’m exhausted! The late-night parties, alcohol and over-indulgence in holiday sweets can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and guilty.    Make a pledge to have a fun but healthy holiday season.  Be sure to get plenty of rest during this stressful time.  Be mindful of your alcohol consumption.  Watch the carbs-have one cookie instead of three, don’t go back for a second helping of mashed potatoes and gravy.  And, as best you can, try to maintain an exercise schedule during these busy months.  Take the time to take care of yourself and you’ll have more energy to enjoy all that the holidays have to offer. 9.) I haven’t accomplished anything this year! As the New Year nears, we begin to take stock of the past months and may feel down over unmet goals.  Perhaps you didn’t lose the weight or didn’t get that promotion at work or the garage remains a mess or your files disorganized.   It’s great to set goals for yourself, but it’s a reality that they are not always met within the timeframe we had hoped. Rather than feeling down about what you didn’t do last year, take this time to re-evaluate.  Why didn’t these things get done?  Are these goals still important to you?  If so, what could you do differently in the New Year to meet them? Regroup and reenergize by focusing on the future, not ruminating on the past!

10.) It’s just too much. If you find that you just can’t cope with your anxiety or sadness, be sure to get the help you need.  The holidays can be a very difficult time.  If you are feeling overwhelmed by your feelings, talk to your doctor or find a mental health professional.  This is the time to make resolutions for the New Year and now is the perfect time to address any issues with anxiety or depression that have been plaguing you.  If you need assistance finding a mental health provider, talk to your doctor, look at the find-a-therapist section on this website or go to www.academyofct.org, www.adaa.org or www.abct.org for help.

Best wishes for a peaceful and joyous holiday season and a calm and happy New Year!

Thankful For . . . (Part 2)

I am thankful for a Spaghetti-O’s Thanksgiving this year.

Let me re-word that: I am really thankful I won’t be going to my parents’ home for Thanksgiving. (My mother in law does a really low-key and fun Thanksgiving the Sunday after so we don’t need to worry about scheduling).

In years past there was always the drama of getting everything made and done in time. Even if there were ten of us in my mothers kitchen, we’d never get it finished by the time the grandparents showed up. Then theres the battle of getting everyone seated and happy where they are at. With my parents side of the family, they love to hate each other, so we have to keep mein Oma and my Grandma as far as possible. My uncle cannot sit by my father. My mothers batshit crazy cousin cannot sit anywhere near me or my brother. It sucks.

Then there’s the diets… my father has Celiac, so gluten free only for him, my brother, uncle and my grandma are all Type 1 Diabetics, so low sugar for them, and my mom and aunts like to go as low fat as possible. People bringing dishes to help with the meal mostly goes for not and leaves me and my husband to eat those dishes alone.

Between dinner and dessert is when people start fighting. Mom is cranky that people aren’t helping her clean up the meal (even when she’s shooed four people offering to help out of her kitchen), Grandpa is snoring in the arm-chair and my Oma and Grandma are bitching over which of them is the better grandparent; dragging my brother and I into THAT mess. This is when my mom’s cousin will usually say something exceptionally stupid, causing an uproar of retorts from everyone else, and a huge family feud.

This year however, will be so much better!

This year my husband and I will wake up to watch the parade in our jammies, I’ll make pancakes and a big breakfast and we will watch football, holiday specials and enjoy our pajamas a little too much. Sure, I’ll make some of my moms famous snack dishes, such as her Thanksgiving Chex Mix (salty), her Pita Chips, and we will enjoy our Spaghetti-O’s for our dinner.

Seriously, who could ask for a better holiday than THAT?!

Plus, we aren’t really missing out on anything besides drama, because my mother-in-law is providing Turkey three days later!