Christmas 2017

What I Got for Christmas

What I Got For Christmas | Writing Between Pauses

A few days after Christmas, I ran a poll on Instagram about whether people like Christmas gift posts or not. The results were pretty much split in the middle: half said they hated them, half said they love them. I got quite a few messages asking that I still post. 

This is just going to be a fun little post, mostly a list. I'll be reviewing some of these things in separate posts, so if you see something you want more details either 1) let me know and 2) I'll either email you directly with info or tell you the date the post will be going up. See? Easy peasy! 

Let's get down to business! 

1. A fruit-themed box of Lush goodies

The gift set I got was the Bella Fruta, but from what I can tell, they change this set almost constantly. The set I got contains a Yuzu Bubbleroon, a Comforter Bubble bar, A Strawberry Feels Forever massage bar, an Avobath Bomb, Sympathy for the Skin lotion, and the Comforter shower cream. That's a lot of stuff! I was so excited to receive this because I've never really tried Lush products, but have always wanted to. And I love a nice, relaxing bath! 

2. A gift bag from Bath & Body Works

This is a gift I get regularly from my mother-in-law... it's one I come to expect and love! In this year's bag there was the bag itself (a large, sturdy tote), a Champagne Toast candle, a Winter Candy Apple hand sanitizer and lotion, a shea butter cream lotion in the Berry scent, an Aromatherapy Body Cream in Recharge (sage and mint), and an Aromatherapy Body Wash & Bubble Bath in Recharge. I've been obsessed with herb scents lately, so I'm very excited for the Aromatherapy products! 

3. More socks than I honestly know what to do with 

Last year while opening Christmas gifts, my husband and I had quite the crack up because everyone had gotten me socks. My mom got me socks; his mom got me socks; and Danny got me socks. In 2016, I got about 20 pairs of new socks alone. Danny was pretty worried that I would be mad because, seriously, who wants that many pairs of socks? But fortunately, I love socks. This year, he got me several pairs of new socks again (about 5 pairs) and I got two pairs from my mother in law... for a grand total of 7 pairs of socks. Needless to say, I have enough boot socks to last me an absolute lifetime. 

In case you think Danny only got me socks, he also got me a new heating pad (don't freak out, but I sleep with one) and a new pair of sweater leggings with pandas on them. 

4. Crossing a lot off my Christmas bucket list

I think the best gift I received (not to be an absolute cornball or anything) this year was the fact that I got to experience Christmas in a way I never have before. Going to Idaho to celebrate with Danny's family was hard because, obviously, I wish we could be with both our families every year! But it was really fun to have a new experience, something completely different, and to see how much fun Forrest had! As well, we had a white Christmas!! The first of my life! That's a great gift. 

What did you get for Christmas? 

My Favorite Christmas Traditions

My Favorite Christmas Traditions | Writing Between Pauses

Christmas is my favorite time of year. 

Actually, scratch that: from October 1 to December 31 is my favorite time of year. Once January hits, I tend to fall into a bit of a... rut? Sadness rut? January and February are very difficult months for me, so it seems kind that I get my absolute favorite time of year right before that. 

I grew up with a lot of Christmas traditions that have fallen to the wayside. I think that is true of everyone's life: there are things you do as a kid that just aren't realistic for incorporating into your life as you get older. There are no more big family dinners on Christmas Eve; no more bright-and-early Christmas mornings (at least not until Forrest is able to get up on his own); and no more school programs or anything like that. 

No, there are other things that I associate with Christmas now. Things that I've done with Danny in the last 7 years (have we been together nearly 7 years now!?) that are special to us, that are our traditions, and things we are starting with Forrest to make into traditions of our own. 

I wanted to share some of my childhood traditions that I still keep up, some of our new traditions as a family, and a few things that we hope to incorporate into Christmas as the years go by. 

1. Baking Sugar Cookies

This is one of those traditions that everyone has. Almost everyone spends one day in December baking a ridiculous amount of sugar cookies--or maybe they're oatmeal cookies, or ginger cookies, or whatever cookie your family favors.

We make sugar cookies in my family; the recipe was my great-grandmother's, adapted from a recipe for Scottish shortbread (I think it's actually an Americanization, as my great-grandmother's side was Scottish). It's basically shortbread, plus eggs and baking powder and vanilla. That's it! They're delicious, easy to make, and so much fun.

I've been making these sugar cookies the exact same way with the exact same icing since I was little and whenever I make them for my office, everyone loves them. It's not Christmastime until I've made my sugar cookies!

2. Opening presents early

Danny and I have always been very bad at keeping secrets from each other. Mostly because I am incredibly intuitive and I know when Danny isn't telling me something. Presents are hard because, throughout the year, we save so much money that we rarely treat ourselves or each other to big purchases, so we tend to give each other gifts the moment we buy them. The last few years, we got into a bad habit of having most of our presents opened by Christmas day (oops). This year, we set a limit for ourselves: one present when Danny finished school for break and one before we left for Christmas. It worked marvelously. We got to enjoy our tradition of being absolutely cheeky about when we open presents, but we still have some to open with Forrest on Christmas morning. (And of course, like true parents, we're making Forrest wait until Christmas! Not that he knows the difference.) 

3. Watching Lord of the Rings

One of my favorite movies to watch around Christmas is the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Don't ask me why, but they are Christmas movies. I will argue about it. Danny and I started doing this the year where he wasn't working and I had quit my job to switch to another (digression: that job switch was absolutely a mistake, but that's another blog post!). We had a lot of spare time around Christmas as a result, so we watched the extended edition of the Trilogy... and loved it. We started doing it every year! 

Recently, we added the Hobbit trilogy to it. Those movies are also Christmas movies, I will argue, and fit right in. With Forrest, we don't have the attention spans (or time) we used to, so we tend to stick to the Hobbit and the Fellowship of the Ring, our two favorites. 

4. Advent Calendars

Advent calendars are a relatively new phenomena in the United States. Well, not "new." When I was little, I had an Advent calendar once or twice, but they weren't very popular and I firmly believe that the traditional ones sold in the US were all made in the same year. (Really, they all have the same waxy chocolates and exact same look. Since at least 1992.) 

I know Advent calendars are super popular outside the U.S. though, of all varieties... much better varieties than mass produced, waxy milk chocolates and a vaguely religious poem behind each door! This year, I started noticing Advent calendars popping up everywhere: Ulta had one, Sephora had one. Europe is gradually forcing a trend on the U.S. and I am into it! I got myself an Advent calendar this year and Forrest one as well, and we both enjoyed it. This is definitely something I want to keep up because they are so fun! 

5. Making Family Ornaments

This year, I bought a few ornament picture frames to put on our tree: they have the year on them, so I put two photos from our family vacation in them. It got me thinking... how nice, when Forrest is 18, to be able to decorate the tree with these photos of us and him. It's not something I can see myself doing every single year (some years we probably won't vacation or get a good photo), but something I do want to keep up for a while! 

What are your Christmas traditions? Tell me about them in the comments!

My 4 Favorite Christmas Movies

My 4 Favorite Christmas Movies | Writing Between Pauses

Last year, I wrote about the 5 Christmas movies that I have to watch every single year. Those 5 movies put me in the holiday spirit and I consider them absolute classics. 

I thought I'd share 4 new favorite Christmas movies to give you a little inspiration if you need something to watch as the holiday approaches. Forrest and I have been watching these on repeat, so they are kid- and mom-approved! 

1. Christmas Family Vacation

"You let a toddler watch this movie?" That's what you're probably asking yourself. Short answer, yes... the TV edited version that they play on Freeform at least. One day, Forrest was particularly sickly and bored, so I put on Freeform to this because I needed a little sanity. He really enjoyed it. And to be fair, I've been watching this movie since I was 6 or 7 and I'm totally fine. Mostly. 

It is absolutely a Christmas classic though, that kind of movie that is about how Christmas can go so, so wrong, but still be really fun. 

2. Elmo Saves Christmas

Do you have a toddler? Do you need to entertain them for, say, 90 minutes? 

Elmo Saves Christmas runs for 90 minutes--it's a full-length film! And it's not cobbled together Sesame Street segments, but an actual movie. It's also... really kind of good. I will absolutely sit and watch this with Forrest. It's that good. It's narrated by Maya Angelou as well, which is about as Sesame Street as it gets. 

3. Elf

Confession: it really pained me to put this on my list because, honestly, I find Will Ferrell to be so annoying. I used to not be able to stand Elf, it was one of the few movies that I would absolutely turn off and be mad about having seen even a few minutes of for a while. But it's really grown on in me in the last few weeks. Maybe because Forrest loves it (as I sigh thinking about what it teaches him about being a grown man) but maybe because, like the Grinch, my cold heart is melting a little bit. 

4. The Year Without Santa Claus

These claymation classics used to be on all the time when I was little, so I think of them as The Christmas Movies... but I feel like they're on so much less these days! The Year Without Santa Claus is basically the story of Santa taking a year off (because he has a cold) and the shenanigans that follow. It's cheery, Christmas-y, and totally a classic. 

My Holiday Bucket List

My Holiday Bucket List | Writing Between Pauses

I'm really going to try to not set unreasonable expectations for my holiday season this year. Really. I promise. 

Every year, I want to go ice skating and drink hot cocoa and play somewhere with snow. I want to go to the mountains 

Every year, I barely do any of those things. Realistically, as an adult, planning activities is much less fun; driving up to the mountains isn't exactly my cup of tea, either. Most likely, we will have a few freezes, I'll worry about the pipes in our house and well freezing, and we will spend leisurely evenings at home, watching movies. 

Doesn't that sound better anyway? 

So, this year, I'm keeping my holiday bucket list... reasonable. Nothing extravagant; just the fun, Christmas-y basics. Here they are.  


My Top 5 Christmas Songs

My Top 5 Christmas Songs | Writing Between Pauses

Confession: once I put up my Christmas tree (early November, I'm not ashamed!), I start listening to Christmas music. Not all the time, but just occasionally, like when I'm cooking dinner or writing. I just love Christmas music. 

Once December hits, however, it's time to go full on. I turn my radio in my car to the Christmas station; I keep my Spotify Christmas playlist ready all the time; and I trade my true crime podcasts for Christmas music whenever I'm in the kitchen. 

Everyone has their favorites when it comes to Christmas music. I thought I'd share my favorite 5 songs: the ones I belt in the car, that I look forward to on my playlist, the ones that I remember from my childhood. Here they are! 

1. All I Want for Christmas is You by the Darcys 

For a lot of people, Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" is a classic. (Cut to the iconic scene in Love, Actually.) However, I've never been a huge fan of MC (it's ok, she doesn't know me)... however, this version from the Darcys is just as classic in my mind. I love a unique cover and this one fits the bill. 

2. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Cat Power

This version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas combines a classic with my love of indie music. It is haunting and lovely and perfect for dark winter evenings with a fire, a cup of tea, and a blanket. 

3. Space Christmas by All Darlin' 

I love this song so much, I included it in an Instagram story back in November. It is so much fun; I love unique, new Christmas songs and this one definitely fits the bill. It would be perfect for a fun party or ugly sweater competition. 

4. Little Drummer Boy by David Bowie & Bing Crosby

Has there ever been a weird mash up? A more iconic video that seems both totally normal and hilariously awkward? I love David Bowie (all his problematic moments aside) for his voice alone; this song is such a classic and hearing it from two completely disparate styles of musician... really lovely. 

5. Last Christmas by Wham!

Such a fun song! My mom and I always sang along to this one in the car on the way home from school. It reminds me so much of my childhood in such a weird way. I would go ahead and say that this is a classic these days and absolutely required on any Christmas playlist! 

A Busy Mom's Gift Guide for: Toddlers

A Busy Mom's Gift Guide for: Toddlers | Writing Between Pauses

I'm so excited to be posting my first gift guide. Now, these gift guides are going to be absolutely no-nonsense: easy, affordable options that you can order online with minimal hassle. Nothing fancy, but with options you'll feel good about gifting others.

If you're the mother of a toddler, or someone who loves a toddler (shout out to the aunts & uncles, cousins, and friends of moms out there), these are great options: simple, easy, and with a focus on nurturing how smart and curious toddlers are. 

Here are my top picks for Christmas gifts for toddlers, age 18 months to 4 years! 

1. Kid Kraft Chalkboard Table, $99.99

Kids Kraft Chalkboard Table | Writing Between Pauses

Confession: this is actually what I'm getting Forrest for Christmas this year. We've been looking for a table for him: somewhere he could sit to have a snack, draw, or play with blocks. I originally found this at Costco (as a side note: it is available for $59.99 at Costco, so if you're local, definitely look for it there) and knew I wanted to get it for him. It comes with a handy pouch for storing art supples (where my dog cannot get to those delicious crayons), two stools, and a roll of paper underneath for easy access. 

2. Mega Bloks Build 'N Learn Math Building Set, $24.99

Mega Bloks Math Set | Writing Between Pauses

We are big fans of math, science, and reading themed toys in our house; for his birthday, Forrest got a set of baby science books that he absolutely loves. This block set combines the fun of building with math; you can put stickers on blocks to indicate numbers, add them, subtract them, and learn basic math! For older toddlers, this would be really fun for those first math lessons and for experimenting with counting. 

3. Seedling Littles Galaxy Rocket Adventure Cape Costume Kit, $25.99

Seedling Littles Galaxy Rocket Adventure Kit | Writing Between Pauses

I had never heard of this Seedling Littles brand before, but this rocket adventure kit has absolutely made me a fan. It's basically a little cape that toddlers can put together, decorate as they like, and then dress up with to pretend they are going to space, exploring the world, or just zooming. It is so much fun! They also have other great ones like this farmer's market playtime kit, this dress up headband kit, and this under the sea playtime kit. If you're into interactive and imaginative play with your kids (which, I hope you are!), these are absolutely perfect toys!