It’s the time of year for spreading joy and cheer…

In case you didn’t know, Chicago has four whole seasons. And I happen to love them all. I am especially happy and ready for winter, and snow, and Christmas.

We had a minuscule dusting not too long ago, and there’s a slight chance for snow today, but nothing in the way of real Chicago snow as of yet. I’m ready to give my snow boots a workout. To see a half-frozen Lake Michigan. To have it feel like the holiday season!

Well, if I can’t have snow just yet, I’ll at least start on my apartment. The past few years I’ve had fun with my decorations, sporting my little pink tree with all it’s fake bling. But for the longest time I’ve wanted a full-sized white Christmas tree. Pre-lit of course. Now, those suckers aren’t cheap, hence why I never got one. Until this year.

   

Not so bad for a $40 tree I bought online! I love it! 6.5-feet, pre-lit, and all mine! But since this is my first time owning a full-sized tree of my very own… I didn’t have any ornaments. All I had were things appropriate for a 2-foot tree. So after a lot of looking, and realizing I am probably spending more on ornaments than my own tree… I settled for some more sparkle and bling. What can I say…

I ended up finding some beaded garland that I loved in silver and mint… and got some crystal springs to put on the tree (also in silver, mint, and clear)… And then they had the fake diamond drops I loved on my pink tree in mint and blue! So I did that. And then since I couldn’t just do silver glittery 2D ornaments, I picked up a set with blue… My original plan was to use gold… But I love how it turned out and I’m sure it will change some next year.

Tuija and Kaija definitely have fallen in love with the tree. I’ve even found a few of their toys hiding beneath the tree.

Now, since the tree was sort of a big deal, I haven’t gotten around to getting other (matching) decorations for the apartment. I still have all my pink stuff–mainly the pink wreath… and I do have more silver & blue sparkly snowflakes I can use… But I’m just going to keep it minimal and just the tree for this year. I can, and will, add on more next year.

However, I’ve got more to share to keep you in the holiday spirit! My friends in Lowdown Brass Band have put together an amazing music video for one of my favorite tracks on their holiday album they put out last year… Chicago’s Where I Want To Be:

I have a love-hate relationship with Christmas music. In fact, until last year the only holiday cd I owned was Jingle Cats. But I am absolutely in love with LDB’s holiday album. The guys did an amazing job on it.

How are you getting in the holiday spirit? What are you most excited for?

It’s beginning to look a lot like… home.

I don’t know if it’s because of the holidays, or the change from student to employee, or maybe partially because of the new couch… But finally, after living in this apartment for over 8 months, it’s starting to feel like home.

I started classes before I even got a chance to move in, and well, if you remember, classes were intense. And they only got more-so. By the time the second quarter came around, there was no question that I was spending more time there than at home. (It also explained why on weekends I just crashed.) But that meant for the most part, my apartment was little more than a storage unit with a bed. A place to store and sleep.

I still technically haven’t finished unpacking, but at least I’ve taken the boxes out of the living room. So now I have a living room, and a bedroom/storage space. So, yeah, still work to be done, but I’m not as concerned with the bedroom since, well, it’s not like I’ve got anyone other than myself who’ll be spending time there.

Okay, so Kaija may beg to differ on that point… (She did not move from that spot from the time I made my bed until, like, 9pm. Seriously.)

I know I only have just over 3 months left in my lease, but I’m glad I finally put in some effort into my place. It’s now feeling like a home. Which, yeah, having a couch and using my living room like a living room rather than spending all my time in my bed… totally helps. If I do decide to move when my lease is up, hopefully I won’t take this long to settle in to my new place.

And well, because it’s the holiday season, figured I should share my Christmas decorations–which I’ve got to say, having a larger place all to myself, means I keep feeling I need more decorations! So hopefully I’ll post the updates as I continue to decorate my place.

My tree. I’ve had this for 3 years now, still love it. I looks nice right next to my tv…

The cats’ tree.. it’s fiberoptic! And yeah, they do try to eat it. Hence why it has a body guard. (Also, any one else notice I seem to store/stash my Nintendo stuff near my trees?)

*If I do decided to renew my lease, I’ll continue to make the place more homey, and I’ll get some photos up of that once it’s done.

thankfulness and food comas.

I love Thanksgiving. It’s sort of the culmination of my love for fall foods. (And this year I got to try my hand at cornish game hens. Since it’s just me and the kitties, there was no need for a huge bird to myself. However, the kitties had their own turkey & giblets meal.)

But before the kitties and I, or well, before I nod off into the wonderful land of food coma (because holy crap do I make a tasty and juicy hen)… Here’s some of the things I’m thankful for this year:

My little furballs, Tuija & Kaija. They’ve put up with more than one move, and have been great little troupers.They’re just furry balls of love and cuddling.

Mucca Pazza. I love these people. They’ve been an amazing family of friends for me over these past years. I have so many great memories with them this year–various Tour de Fats, their dance film, and the California tour just to mention a few of them. In fact, it was during the California tour, the last show in San Diego, that I felt so much joy and love from and for this group of people that I started crying, right there in the middle of their show. I’m absolutely grateful that I have these people in my life. Each and every one of them.

CPS. This was the push I needed. For a long time, I’ve been all talk and I needed a kick in the butt to get moving. And while I don’t see myself pursuing a career in advertising, or well, probably not graphic design either… CPS has been a great opportunity for me. I’ve grown as a creative, and well, met some very awesome people… which leads to…

My CPS friends. It’s hard not to get close to people when you’re spending all day, 5 days a week with them… and in your free time you end up still wanting to hang out with them. These guys and ladies have seen me through some tough times. I can definitely see some long term friendships coming from this place.

A job that I actually like. It’s not perfect my any means, but it’s part of why I’m happy. Even though I’ve been building websites for 13 or so years now, I sort never truly considered it as a career. But once you start making money, like real money, from something you enjoy and are halfway decent at… well, it opened my eyes a bit. I didn’t need to find this perfect job that encompassed all my talents. I needed to find a job where I could support myself, yet still have the freedom for the other things I love. And this job is doing just that.

An understanding landlord. I panicked when I was moving back in April. I was having the hardest time finding and then securing a place. I actually lost the first two places I wanted, but my current landlord gave me a good deal on a unit bigger than I’d been looking at. It’s not perfect, but it’s becoming home for the time being.

My family, duh. I have so much family, so. freaking. much. family. But I love them all. I’m grateful for my dad and stepmom taking me in when I had no place to go. I’m grateful for a chance to really get to know and love my new stepmom, Cynthia–to be able to look past our differing beliefs and just love each other. I’m grateful for new family and getting chances to get to know them. From my cousin-in-law to my step-cousins, and my brother’s girlfriend. I know I have 4 other sisters, but getting a 5th in my hopefully new sister-in-law, is just awesome. She and I are both dealing with endo, which has actually given us more of a chance to bond. I’m grateful for my niece, who is growing up so fast! My brother, who still calls when he’s bored. And of course… my mom. I love this woman. She is absolutely amazing and beautiful. Isn’t it suppose to be that the parents are proud of their kids? But I’m super proud of my momma. Next year, I’m making sure she comes up to Chicago to spend thanksgiving with me. Love this woman so much.

.. and right now, I’m thankful for my new couch so I can now pass out in full-on food coma. Gotta sleep some of this off because I have an entire pie to eat.

As, I’m sure everyone else is asking… what are you thankful for?

falling apart. slowly.

I can’t tell if it’s the disrupted sleep, the holiday shoppers, the constantly on my feet thing, the pain in my back and neck and arms and ankles, the cold that finally hit that’s leaving me mildly stuffed up, or….  … all of the above.  But I’m falling apart.

It’s not an overwhelming breakdown.  It’s just that pieces of me keep getting worn off, knocked off, hacked off… and there’s just less and less of me able to deal with everything else.

Last year at this time I was a wreck.  I was depressed to the point I was seeing a professional and dreading every weekday morning.  I was one step shy of taking another pill to just make sure I could handle the day-to-day.  Small things would make me cry.

Yesterday I almost cried at work.  I had made a mistake, embarrassed myself, and subsequently wanted to crawl into small cave and just hide for a while.  I was able to keep myself together for the moment, but I’m afraid that before this holiday season is over (there’s four days including today) I will indeed cry at work.  Which isn’t the end of the world…

I’m trying hard to prove myself there.  I’m the new girl, lowest on the totem pole.  I want to show that I’m a great worker, that yes I really do enjoy this job.  That I can hopefully prove myself valuable enough that maybe I could get a raise.  But I am afraid that maybe I’m putting too much pressure on myself.

Add in some financial stress and just being physically exhausted and sore…. and I still have to navigate the trains to get back to Indiana on Christmas Eve.  I’m just trying to hold it together until I can get to my folks’.

How are you doing this holiday season?

family & merriment, a holiday tale

So I’ve returned… with a suitcase full of clean clothes, a bag full of goodies, and apparently some sort of stomach bug or flu.

I definitely wasn’t doing well on Monday night — I completely emptied my stomach contents in a handful of hours and have no interest in eating at Steak-n-Shake for a while.  Anyway.  So Monday I was miserable.  Now, I’m still trying to stabilize my body temperature, I’ve got a mild headache and I’m pretty sure my vertigo is bothering me as well.  I’m not doing terrible, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to partake in New years festivities tonight.

Onto more notable things… Christmas Merriment!

I spent Christmas morning with my mom, as I’ve done for all of my past Christmases.  For the past couple years, it’s just been me and my mom — and the pets.  Seriously, Dexter (our dog) loves Christmas.  As soon as you put his present down, he starts unwrapping it.  Bear just loves the ribbons.

That afternoon we went to my aunt’s (mom’s sister).. did gifts there.. Lil G loves it over there.. our little cousin Lleyton has tons of toys, including a bounce house.
On Friday was gifts and food at my grandparents’ (dad’s folks)… in which we did gifts with my dad and sisters too.  This is sort of becoming a tradition too, since we generally don’t go up to dad’s and they’ve just recently started staying there for Christmas morning.

Anyway… I had a great time with the family, giving my mom a lot of monkeys.. and here’s the list of loot that I came away with:

  • Blankets – Craig Thompson
  • Paste Magazine subscription
  • Panda Ornament
  • Padded business card holder
  • Shark mints
  • 2 $15 iTunes gift cards
  • Beatles Monopoly
  • sewing kit
  • Christmas tree ornament
  • penguin ornament
  • frog tea pot
  • fuzzy socks with grip pads on the bottom
  • hat, scarf & glove set
  • cash & a check
  • Brain age 2 for DS

I’m pretty sure that covers it… I might be forgetting something.

Tuija and Kaija also got gifts this year… a new Omega Paw rolling litter box with mat (okay, so I’m more excited about this gift than they are — if it works, no more scooping).  They also got this “over-5-foot-tall” bright pink kitty tower, which they haven’t really played with much, and another kitty cube.

My highlight of my Christmas would definitely be spending time with my cousins.  My cousin KT got married on the 27th, so all the other cousins were in town.  I finally got to see Shune — my Japanese cousin whom I’ve only previously talked to online.  My younger half-Chinese cousins were there, as well as their Chinese mother who lives pretty close to me.  Saramoira couldn’t come out, which was sad… My cousin Nathan was around too, which I enjoyed.  He’s getting his Ph.D at Juilliard in music comp, so he’s generally too busy to keep in contact.

I brought my Wii home… this allowed my cousins, sisters, dad, and grandmother to play… and can I just say, the best Wii bowler in my family is my grandma.  She destroyed us all.

Pictures on Friday.