We had visitors this past weekend. It felt good just to dust off the guest room and prepare it for use–hospitality is a blessing, as much to us as to those we host. My parents came for a nice long weekend–one filled with chatting, exploring, and just plain being.

Christmas is the time of year when we all hold our families close, spending time with one another. But when family is so far away, it’s hard to do. I so appreciated their efforts to be with me for a little bit around the holidays, it makes being so far from family a little easier come Christmas morning.

Of course, I feel it more this year than last–losing Michael has done that, made me think more about family and relationships and time. Because the truth is, we don’t have as much time as we think we do. And we so often put off the things that are truly important in favor of the ones that are so temporal. I see it far too often in my own life.

So while my parents were here, I focused on savoring the moments, the laughter, and the being togetherness.

We went to Smithfield and walked the main streets full of old homes, and even stopped in one for tea…

Smithfield carriage house.

Smithfield Virginia architecture.

Tea cup

Cranberry scones

I’m still getting used to Virginia Beach Decembers: I mean flowers in bloom, really? I’m fascinated.

Pansies in bloom.

Flowers in bloom in December.

And Dad did a little work on my early Christmas present that I mentioned briefly before (more to come, I promise!)…

Dad tinkering


Our pups had a grand time playing together… (FYI, it’s hard to get photos of dogs while they are wrestling/tugging/etc.)

Ginger playing tug of war.

And, of course, we had to go to the beach =).

Taking the pups to the beach.

Ginger at the beach.

Hard to believe it was a full two years ago that I lived along this strip of sand, I miss it.

Sandbridge beach houses.

And we ate plenty of seafood, preferably with a view, like this local restaurant on a Back Bay tributary in Pungo.

Eating at Blue Pete's.

So often we talked until midnight, loathe to give up one second of time together as a family–those are memories I will cherish. It was a full weekend–full of life, love and adventure!

Our lovely little mountain tradition

Our lovely little mountain tradition

Yesterday we celebrated one of my favorite holiday traditions–getting our Christmas tree.

But our tradition is no ordinary trip to the local Home Depot. No, we cut our own tree.

Of course, we live in Virginia Beach, where there aren’t any Christmas tree farms…so, we drove four hours out to the Blue Ridge mountains in western Virginia to hunt down a cut-your-own tree farm. And find one we did =).

Have I ever mentioned my long time dream of someday owning a Christmas tree farm?

Searching for the perfect tree

Ginger looking for a Christmas tree

Pine needles

It took a while to find the perfect tree to grace our home for the next month, but we were successful. (I did learn that it’s slightly difficult to be the dog-wrangler, tree-sawing-helper and photographer all at once–talk about being pulled in different directions!)

Our Christmas tree!

Measuring our tree

Preparing to cut our Christmas tree

Cutting down our Christmas tree

Heading home with our tree!

After our tree we happened across an antique store and happened to mosey our way in and happened to find just the right item to go alongside our Christmas tree (I’ll share soon, I promise!). And then we hit an adorable German restaurant called Edelweiss, and had a yummy meal while listening to live accordion music and sitting next to a warm, wood burning stove (never mind that it was in the 60s outside!). And before long we were heading on home, another four hour drive =).

To top it off, Ginger was a great little traveler–something we doubted she would ever be when as a puppy she would get sick just looking at the car.

I’ve talked a lot here about establishing tradition as newlyweds and how important that is. Now celebrating our third Christmas as a married couple, I’m delighted to feel more at home with our new life and new traditions than ever before. It takes some time to develop just what your life will look like together, and it will continue to take time. But things are coalescing beautifully, and we are finding our own, unique rhythm.



Would you like to meet the newest members of my little family? I thought so =).

These adorable creatures were my Christmas present from Husband. Their names are Gidget and Fidget, and although they look a whole lot alike, there are some very distinct personality differences here–mainly that Gidget loves people and loves to curl up in my sweatshirt hood, and Fidget loves to escape us to explore.

Sugar Glider

They are Sugar Gliders, which is a type of marsupial from Australia. I still have a lot to learn about these guys, but I’ve been doing my research and they are truly fascinating characters. They love to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, they have opposable thumbs on both their hands and feet, which makes them great at climbing, hanging upside down, and holding things with their feet. When they walk, they waddle. They like to jump from one person to another and they climb up really high and glide down like a flying squirrel.

My Christmas present from Husband

In the wild, they live in tree tops and eat meal-worms and tree sap that they find under the bark. They like to sleep somewhere soft, though, so my girlies have a hanging pouch of fleece that they huddle in. Like many little creatures, they are nocturnal (you can see how adorably big their eyes are!), so I have mine set up in a room with a red light–easier for us to see them without hurting their eyes.

New family members!

New sugar glider

Many more pics to come, I’m sure. They’re too adorable not to photograph!

For the love of snow

For the love of snow

This Northern girl is having a hard time dealing with Southern winters. Back when I lived in Buffalo, NY or Billings, MT I would have LOVED a December day in the 70s. But now? Not so much.

I’m desperately missing snow. I never thought I would miss those blizzards–the ones where snow falls horizontally and 6-8 feet of snow arrives in a few crazy hours. I might even have to resort to extreme action.

Husband is a Southern baby all the way (in spite of his consistent claim that his parents are from Upstate New York). He doesn’t seem to understand my inexplicable desire for white, fluffy goodness, especially for someone who so hates to be cold.

But Husband has only rarely experienced a white Christmas, so I just shake my head. He simply doesn’t understand what he’s missing. He doesn’t ski or snowboard or participate in any other lovely winter sport, around here snow is just, well, a mess. Sad. Can you believe I haven’t hit the slopes since I moved to Virginia over two years ago? Two years! It’s heart breaking…

It looks like I will have to content myself with this lovely desk accessory for my snow this year.

Snow tissues

My December Goals

My December Goals

I know myself. And I know that unless I write them down, things just won’t happen. I’m not only a writer by trade, I’m also a writer by nature. (You would not believe the number of lists that I have, and you really can’t imagine the number of sticky notes currently surrounding both my home and office computers…)

So I decided to compile a list of goals for this month. These are in no particular order, although some are obviously a lot more important than others. I hope I’m able to complete them before the new year:

  • Make homemade soup (I don’t know why this appeals to me, I hate to cook. And after the first attempt, I will probably be over my desire for homemade soup…)
  • Wrap gifts early (I’m usually pretty good at this, but I still put it on the list, because I know how some years go…but I want to be able to enjoy the look of presents under the tree BEFORE Christmas Day when they all go away)
  • Research the 12 Days of Christmas (Husband and I are considering adding this to our repertoire of traditions)
  • Finish sewing curtains (I have several curtains that were purchased frugally, but have no backing to provide a layer of insulation in the winter, so I’m adding it myself.)
  • Make a gingerbread house (a new tradition Husband and I began the first Christmas we were dating =)
  • Take the light rail into Norfolk to visit “the big mall” and little shops before Christmas
  • Make Christmas cookies! (I might have to limit this, last year I made far too many for us to eat, I had too many to even give away!)
  • Take time to relax, read, and just enjoy (Reading list: Little Women and Miracle on 34th Street, which was a delightful find from a used book store in Norfolk)
  • Decorate carefully and joyfully
  • Streamline cleaning process on Saturdays (should it really take me 5-6 hours to clean my house?)
  • Finish my last graduate course well.
  • Attend yoga class at least once a week (it seems to be making a big difference in number of tension headaches I always get, so I’m definitely becoming a fan!)
  • Enjoy Christmas.
  • Don’t miss the beautiful

    Don’t miss the beautiful

    Don’t miss the beautiful!

    That was the admonition of my devotional this morning. And boy does it ring true. How often do I spend my days staring at the road in front of me, the keyboard, or whatever my next task is? And how often do I miss the beautiful of life?

    I soooo didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. It was warm under the covers, all cuddled up with my pillow ignoring the blaring of the alarm. I can’t tell you the number of times I hit snooze today, suffice to say too many. When I finally dragged myself out of bed, eyes bleary and lips parched, I had to hurry to make it to work on time.

    So hurry I did–all the way through my morning routine, through making the bed, through drinking my tea, even through breakfast with Husband. I hate to hurry through breakfast with Husband. In fact, I hate to hurry in the mornings period.

    I quickly threw a load of laundry in the washer and headed out the door (late) only to discover that my car had a thick layer of frost all over it. So back into the house I went in search of my snow scraper (when I lived in the North, I never even took this handy little tool out of my car). I scraped the frost away, jumped in and started off to work.

    Of course, I got stuck behind every truck and school bus possible, and I was stopped at every traffic light…

    It almost made me miss the beautiful. The warm hug from Husband before I left. The puppy kisses from Ginger when she wanted me to get out of bed. The way the heavy frost looked almost like snow.The beautiful way the sun was shining through the trees making shadows dance. The crispness of the December air…

    So no matter how heavy your eyes are in the morning or how much you want to grumble about getting out of bed (or whatever YOUR bane in life happens to be), remember not to miss the beautiful!

    To learn more about my daily devotional, visit