Posts Tagged ‘Traditions’

July 21, 2018

Changing Traditions

I first started Hallmarking the winter of 2009. It was just before New Years. Domingo and I were vacationing in D.C., and killing time before meeting family for dinner when we wondered into a hallmark store. It wasn’t even an ornament from the current year’s collection I first picked up, but the previous year’s “Welcome Friends” the store still had on hand for a steep discount.

Hallmarking combined many of my great loves: shopping, bargain hunting and Christmas. Since I was new to the hobby there were lots of great ornaments that fit my ascetic found cheaply on eBay and Amazon. A few years after I picked up that first “Welcome Friends” ornament, however, I began to exhaust that supply.

It wasn’t long before the only deals to be were after Christmas sales. That worked fine, up until I started have multiple kids, and couldn’t always make time for in person shopping. Last year, at 39 weeks pregnant I opted to just order online from after the holidays. The ornaments were on sale, but I had to pay shipping. I paid effectively the same price as if I had bought in store at full price before the holiday, and didn’t even get to enjoy the ornament that year. Anticipating not making the after Christmas sale again this year, I purchased online from, paying both full price and shipping.

The truth is, now that I don’t have time for the bargain hunting aspect, the hobby isn’t nearly as enjoyable. It’s feeling more like an obligation and less like a joy. So for now, I’m likely stopping our hallmark tradition.

Another tradition that’s changing this year is Black Friday in person shopping. The biggest driver for this change is time, and lack there of.

We always intended our Thanksgiving tradition to be putting up the Christmas decorations after the kids go to sleep. There’s something magical about waking up to a fully trimmed tree and festive house. We haven’t met that goal since 2013, and with multiple trees it’s even harder. Nicole is already starting to question the existence of certain mythical entities, so this may be the last year to really embrace that Christmas magic while she still believes.

We’ve been having better luck snagging deals online shopping anyway, and last year’s experience was pretty miserable (though I won’t be pregnant again during any future black Fridays!) So this year we’re committing to online Black Friday shopping only.

As far as traditions go, ones based on shopping are the least worth preserving anyway.

October 27, 2015

Two Costume Family

It turns out that we are a two costume family, and not because we have two children. Each child apparently gets two costumes.

Alexis as Mini Mouse (her daycare costume)

It all started two years ago when Nicki was super girl. Her not-costume, costume was a big hit and school. Since it was basically just a dress, it was convenient for diaper changes. It also lacked some of the bulk of traditional toddler costumes, making it easy to play in without getting uncomfortably hot. Her teachers loved the practically of it. I loved that my child was happy all day.

The following year, Nicki was a monster. The week before her class’s costume party I began to fret about her losing the fur cuffs at school, or ripping the tulle skirt. I loved her monster costume, but it just didn’t seem practical for a day of playing at school. I thought back to the previous year, and how much her teachers appreciated the non-costume costume. We opted to save the monster costume and got her a pair of cat ears and tail to pair with a black shirt and pants for the party instead.

The costume that’s comfortable for all day play is not necessarily the costume that’s comfortable when trick or treating at night. I’ve come to accept that fact, and that we are a two costume family.

Still, the thought of being one of those parents who spends $100 on costumes gives my inner cheap skate heart palpitations. I’m on the hunt for good, cheap costumes which can double for pretend play after Halloween. I want to get the most bang for my buck.

So far most of my daycare costume finds have come from the kid’s clothing section at Target. That’s where I got Alexis’ mini mouse dress, and Nicole’s super girl dress (Not quite the same one, but very similar.) They hold up well enough that Alexis was able to re-wear the super girl dress for Super Hero Day at school. Target seems to always have those not-quite-costume clothes, especially the super hero and frozen variety. I’ve also seen some at Babies R Us, but we don’t have one close by so I don’t shop there as often.

I’m also a huge fan of the costume accessories. The cat ears and tail cost under $5. (We got a similar bunny set for pretend play which can double as a daycare costume if we need it.) Add a $1 mask and now she’s a cat burger. Or pair the mask with a tutu and cape (already owned) and now she’s a crime fighter. Every year we check out the accessories to see if there’s anything good for pretend play.

The other place I like to shop is online. Once Nicole picked out her costume, I used the reverse image search on the stock photo. Most retailers use the same the stock photo created by the manufacture. By doing a reverse image search on the stock photo I can find all the websites where the photo is shown, i.e. all the retailers selling the same item. From there it’s a simple process to find the one with the best price.

This year I spent $33.12 in total on Nicole’s costumes, and $34.97 on Alexis’. That’s only $5-7 up from the $27.85 average, and each girl get’s two! I’ll take that!

Material costs for the above photo
Mini Mouse Dress – $18 (Target)
Bow – $1 (Walmart)
Backdrop – $12 (JoAnns – not purchased for this photo session, but I thought I should include it anyway)
Total cost – $31


Being a Graduand

I have met the requirements for my degree. My cover sheet has been signed (the last signature was acquired Friday and, according to the shipping tracking information, arrived on campus Monday morning), my dissertation has been submitted online. I am a Graduand. There is nothing left for me to do but wait for my paperwork to be processed and the degree to be officially conferred.

That still feels so surreal to think about. It wasn’t that long ago that I wasn’t sure if I would graduate. I did order a copy of my thesis in book form. Maybe it will feel more real seeing my name ‘in print’.

Our Amazing Daughter

Nicki has been such a joy, I don’t even know where to begin. She’s adapted amazing well, (and quickly!) to her new life – the new home, the new daycare, the new schedule. She’s an incredibly happy little girl and tolerates most anything life throws at her, which in the past month has included six new teeth (4 molars!) a stomach bug which she handled better than Mommy & Daddy, and a cold. Her sunny personality has made this whole transition so much smoother.

I’m also thankful that she appears to really enjoy having her photo taken which lines up nicely to my hobby of taking her photo! Sometimes I think she even understands what the camera is for. Lately she’s smiling for the camera and not just at me behind it. She can even be quite the little ham at times, and loves seeing the photos afterwards. This afternoon she kept asking to see the view screen when I was flipping through the photos. She recognizes herself.

The Best Partner Anyone Could Ask For

Domingo has so many praises to be sung: awesome father, amazing husband. He was willing to move here to be closer to my work, never complains about the late shift with Nicki, and can operate under less sleep than I thought humanly possible. I know it’s trite and cliche to say, but I love him more and more each and every day.

In keeping with the photography theme, I will add how thankful I am that he puts up with my obsessive momtographer tendencies. The above photo was taken at the park Thanksgiving morning. A few weeks back I was perusing facebook and envious of all my friend’s fall photos. Here in California highs were still in the near 70s. We have two seasons: summer (hot and sunny), and winter (rainy and cool). We were still in ‘summer’. Since we don’t really have fall here the way the rest of the country does, it doesn’t really make sense for me to lament not having an opportunity for fall themed photos. After all, those aren’t our memories. Still, they reminded me of growing up back East and I wanted some!

I found a park with some leaves on the ground (a thin layer atop mostly wood chips). The park was fairly busy on the weekends with little league, but we figured it would be fairly empty Thanksgiving morning. We dressed Nicki in her light sweatshirt so the photos would feel more fallish, went early in the morning before it warmed up too much for her to wear it. While every sane person was getting their turkey prepped, we were snapping our ‘faux fall’ photos. Our little ham loved it.

The Starting of New Traditions

We started a new tradition this year. After Nicki went to bed Thanksgiving night, and with family still visiting, we decided to put the Christmas tree up. I think it ads a little bit of extra holiday magic to have the tree appear overnight – kind of like the tradition of Santa bringing the tree, but much earlier in the season.

Nicki woke up first in the morning, per usual, and was completely mesmerized by the tree. When Grandma woke up an hour later, Nicki ran to her, exclaimed ‘Tree!’ and lead Grandma back to it. It was adorable.

I can’t wait for her to experience the magic of Christmas, and to make that happen for her. I loved the holidays growing up (what kid doesn’t?) and I’m so excited to be creating these new traditions with my family.

December 1, 2011

Winter Traditions

The mild winters in California have really grown on me. I miss the snow from the east coast, but can get used to the lack of cold! Though this is only our second holiday season as husband and wife, we’ve been working on a few holiday traditions.

In terms of Baking I make Grandma’s Cinnamon Rolls and Peppermint Bark.

My secret for world famous pepper bark (or at least colon family famous peppermint bark) is to use old candy canes. Seriously. I know it sounds weird, but older candy canes are softer, almost chewy. The softer texture, and same great taste, allows you to have bigger chunks of peppermint in the bark. I also use two layers of chocolate, dark and white. So yummy!

Sorry, the recipe for the cinnamon rolls is a family secret. It’s my Grandmother’s recipe that has been passed down through three generations now.

I wanted to have a new Christmas ornament each year to represent each of us. Specifically, I was hoping we’d each pick out our own hallmark ornament, since I find them so adorable. It seemed like a great idea in 2009. In 2010 there were no ornaments we liked, so we turned to ebay to find older ornaments for our 2010 tree. This year was another bust. After two years in a row struggling to find ornaments, I gave up. We’ll still do purchase new Hallmark ornaments, but they’re more Christmas theme. So much for my grand plan of one to represent each family member over the years. I did end up making a 2010 and 2011 ornament, so maybe handmade ornaments can be our tradition instead?

Another we tradition for us is that we don’t exchange Christmas gifts. We buy gifts for friends and family, just not each other. It’s partially because we typically shop together, and partially because we’re not usually in want of anything by Christmas thanks to our black Friday adventures. We enjoy the hunting for a deal together, more than unwrapping shinny paper. Once we have kids, “Santa” will make sure everyone gets a present.

We don’t really have spring or summer traditions. I do want to make an anniversary craft project each year, and our anniversary is the first weekend in Spring. However, I have no idea what to make this year! I have been thinking about it for months and I am still coming up blank!

October 5, 2011

Fall Traditions

I can’t believe it is already October. It’s been raining off and on since Monday which signals the start of the California winter season. Time to break out the fuzzy socks and pumpkin lattes! Living in California pre Domingo I never got excited about the change of season. Since then, my husband’s love of fall has rubbed off on me. We’re still a new family, but we’ve already formed some traditions.

I always try a new recipe using pumpkin for my husband, as well as make some of his favorite pumpkin treats from past years. Pumpkin is his favorite flavor, from pumpkin spiced lattes at Starbucks, to pumpkin muffins. I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin, and Domingo likes thinking of it as a special treat, so we rarely make pumpkin anything at any other time in the year.

In mid November we cook a mini-thanksgiving meal for just the two of us and Lily, our kitty. We spend the day cooking in the kitchen, together. Since it’s just the two of us, we stick to the basics: turkey breast, stuffing (following my mom’s recipe), cranberry sauce, asparagus, and mashed potatoes. Lily gets her annual can of tuna. It’s a lot of food, but the left over’s keep well and are just so yummy! Our mini thanksgiving is a chance to try out new recipes and I experiment with a new fall themed dessert. If the desert works out, I make another for Thanksgiving with our extended family. Otherwise, I go back to a tried and true recipe. (My mother in law things I’m a great cook, in part because she never finds out about my failures *wink*.)

Not surprisingly, some of our traditions center around shopping. We both love to shop and save money, and when can one do that better than the season that has Black Friday? We go usually spend some time leading up to Black Friday “gathering intel” as my husband would say. You can tell what will go on sale on Black Friday by looking around at the inventory. Target especially keeps excess stock in the shelves above the aisles. If they suddenly have 200 of a particular type of vacuum, you can bet it will likely be a sale. We really enjoy our shopping trips together. No one can make me laugh like he can.

Before you know it, it’s already winter. In honor of the first holiday in fall, I redesigned my blog.