I Thought I Hated Christmas

I imagine most young children, myself included, love the holiday season. But many of my holiday memories during my early years are centered around being shuttled from house to house on Christmas Eve/Day – as is common for many children of divorced parents. When I got old enough to drive, people gladly handed over the keys, happy to no longer play chauffer, leaving me to shuttle J3 and I from house to house and city to city. 

By my early 20s I secretly began to hate Christmas. I loved being back in Detroit with my friends and family for a week or two at a time, but I increasingly dreaded the stress of the 25th of December. My favorite Christmas was the one in my late-20s where I decided to “skip” Christmas and only went to 7am church service, then slept the rest of the day, getting up around 3pm to open my gifts before going back into sleep/tv mode all night. It was the most relaxing one I’d ever had!

Then I found a mate who had his own set of feelings towards holidays and we bonded instantly, spending the Christmas evening a week before our wedding at a chill bar enjoying craft drinks. Happy to use our upcoming NYE wedding as an excuse to skip most of the traditional holiday chaos.
This year Rory and I made a late decision in October to scrap the usual holiday stuff and spend 10 days Europe – away from work, family, and crazy everyday stress! The plan was to drop the dog off in Chicago and hop on a Christmas-day flight to Amsterdam, followed by a stint in Paris and an amazing NYE Eve in Madrid. Talk about exciting!! But even though I was happy to skip all the stress, I talked constantly for the week leading up to Christmas about missing my family (whom I only see a few times a year). I even cried a few days, but I always reminded myself – “Suck it up! This trip is what you wanted!”

We drove to Chicago a couple of days early and laid low, relaxing and prepping for the fun journey ahead. On Christmas day, we were just about to have lunch before hopping on a 6pm flight to Amsterdam when the FaceTime call from my brother came around 1pm. The call no daddy’s girl ever wants to hear. 

“Daddy had a heart attack!”

After my initial breakdown I went directly into work mode. Within an hour, my husband and I had made a decision and were already on I-94 headed east – him driving and me making calls to all of the hotels and airlines to see what we could do, not caring if we lost every dime of the trip. There was no way I could enjoy myself on the other side of the pond with my Dad being in limbo. Because…

In the end it’s all about family.

This year I’ve spent Christmas evening and every day since watching my father improve in rapid ways that even the medical staff deemed abnormal, seeing my little brother step up and set plans in motion like never before, and watching my seemingly ageless grandpa care for his son. My brother’s and mine significant others taking watch shifts and spending time with the visitors, giving updates and allowing us to take breaks from our 24 hours watches. And above all else, admiring my awesome stepmom and her relentless support for my dad, even after her own trauma of finding him with a stalled heart (it was cardiac arrest) and performing CPR until the paramedics showed up minutes later. 

As I sit here in Detroit, getting occasional notifications on my phone for my European flight check-ins, I don’t have a single regret about missing the trip or any of the dollars we lost as a result. I’m thankful that God saw thru my selfish shield and said “uhn uhn, you will not run from this feeling you THINK you have”. I’m thankful my husband put everything aside and has been nothing short of amazing this week. I’m thankful my stepmom is a freakin superhero and saved the life of one of my best friends in the whole world. 

And most of all, I’m thankful that God saw fit to give my dad another chance at life and allowed me to be present to walk this journey along with my family. It’s the ultimate Christmas gift that I will never take for granted. 

Turns out, Christmas is all about love and family. And you can’t hate love. Or family. โค๏ธ

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Art for the Walls

This past weekend we made new friends in Memphis and I had to the opportunity to tour the amazing home art collection of a very creative local businessman. It inspired me to start thinking about how we can make our current place a little more comfy by finally putting something on the bare walls of our condo!!

I noticed a home art sale happening on HauteLook.com (the Nordstrom Online “Private Sales” site) and saved a few potential pieces to run by the husband. As much as I joke with him about having too many other women hanging from the walls, I was really drawn to a lot of the beautiful, colorful, emotional images of female faces and silhouettes.

Any recommendations of favorite local artists I should check out?

 

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Second Line – Midtown (Memphis)

The andouille sausage + crawfish + pimento cheese fries at The Second Line in Midtown were amazing!! 

Great patio area with outdoor bar and huge trees shading the customers! 

Random things I learned last month

Dutch ovens are the best cooking invention ever. And short ribs are way easier to cook than I ever imagined. Big ups to Home Goods (discounted cookware!) and The Butcher and Larder (for the short ribs and tips on how to cook them)!

  
Bobbi Brown‘s Bronze Shimmer Brick is one of my favorite beauty products, but it did not survive my recent business trip. After failed attempts to put it together like a puzzle, it’s just a $48 mess. So sad. 

 When given the opportunity to try a limited reserve tequila, never pass it up! I thought I hated Cuervo until I was exposed to the Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia Extra Anjeo. Where can I find another bottle????

 

There is good gumbo in Chicago!!!! Analogue in Logan Square came with some awesome Cajun recipes. Yum. We went there three times in January. 
 

 
Dog coats are a blessing and curse…helps her in the Chicago cold. But when she wears it she doesn’t want to come home as quickly! 

 
Hope your year has started out fun too! ๐ŸŽ‰

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Lunch Bliss -Goat Chili Cheese Fries

While the Little Goat in Chicago’s West Loop has a menu full of tasty entrees and sandwiches (hint, hint – Los Drowned, Bull’s Eye French Toast and my fav The Reuben), some days when I go there I crave the ultimate “side as an entree” meal (especially when the temps are barely hovering above zero)… Introducing Little Goat’s GOAT CHILI CHEESE FRIES. ๐Ÿ˜›๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿ‘Œ

Go try them!!

 

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Field Museum – Chicagoย 

#inspiration #environment  

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Shoe Envy

Shopstyle has been giving me some great shoe candy over the past few weeks. Almost makes me want to get a second job for a bigger shoe budget! #daydreams  

    
 

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Please donate – I’m running 13.1 for Lupus Detroit!ย 

Please donate to Lupus Detroit – a sponsor in the upcoming Freep Marathon!! I’m running the half marathon – 13.1 miles – to raise money so Lupus Detroit can continue to enhance the lives of Michigan’s Lupus Warriors. https://www.crowdrise.com/lupusdetroit2015/fundraiser/cherish

*fact: Although lupus can strike men and women of all ages, 90 percent of individuals diagnosed with the disease are women. Most people will develop lupus between the ages of 15-44.

Read more here – http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/lupus.htm

http://www.lupusresearchinstitute.org/lupus-facts/lupus-fact-sheet

**bonus: All donations of $30 or more will earn me an entry in a raffle to win a VIP post-race breakfast! 

Possibly the Best Race Picture Everย 

Anybody else do a mud run and try to stay clean the whole time?? The Dirty Girl Mud Run in Schaumburg, IL made sure I didn’t succeed at that!! Event #21 knocked off the list!

  
(Photo courtesy of Conrad Castelo Photography)

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A Perfect Sunday

Despite the rainy start to the day, this Sunday couldn’t have been any better…  My best friend and I pretty much moved around the couch for most of the afternoon, seeking out comfy positions.

       

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