Category Archives: family

Let’s Talk About Christmas Lists

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas Lists. You see, I’ve always enjoyed the tradition of paging through catalogs around the table after Thanksgiving, each family member attempting to jog memories of all the things they desperately needed throughout the year but can’t seem to remember when the blank yellow pad of paper is in front of them.

Who doesn’t need a new pair of fuzzy LLBean slippers? I could use another blanket for the couch. One can never have enough cable knit throws, can they? Nope. Especially when one lives in a tropical climate. 

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I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas lists because my love language is gift giving. I get it from my Nana. And while I love the idea of getting someone something that is written on their Christmas list, there’s an internal struggle I have each year around this time between buying what’s on the list and buying what’s NOT on the list.

Yep. I’m that girl. The girl who wrecks her brain for weeks trying to come up themes for everyone’s gifts, crafty and homemade additions to the gifts or, if the Christmas magic is really with her, the perfect gift for the person who doesn’t necessarily know what the perfect gift is. That, my friends, is the spirit of Christmas if you’re a gift giver at heart. Well, that and the birth of Jesus, but the Magi have that one covered.

And depending on your family and the members in it, you may fall on one side or another when it comes to gift lists, too.

There’s the mom who stuffs her purse with various iterations of other people’s lists but never really manages to end up with anything on hers. It’s ok though. Stick with anything that smells good, feels soft or keeps her warm, preferably in a neutral shade and you’re good to go.

Or the older nephew who unlike any other 9 year-old in town, tells you he doesn’t really need anything this year.

Or the sister who every day leading up to Christmas is very interested in what’s on every other family member’s list yet only manages to list one gift on her own. And a very small one at that.

And if we’re talking about lists, I’d be remiss to not mention the dad who if he’s anything like my dad, Murfs up any holiday with his version of a wish list. You may remember the years he spent asking for a conga drum so he could…

“…jam at some gigs with some cool cats.” 

Or the Father’s Day request for the book, Five Strides on the Banked Track: The Life and Times of the Roller Derby

So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised then when I received an email from my dad with the subject line: “Dad’s xmas list add-on” a link that led us here.

Just a houseboat add-on to this year’s list huh, Murf? Let’s not discuss the barriers to gifting the aforementioned item such as loan restrictions, satellite installation for his DVR habit or the simple fact that he still resides in the Midwest. Those things aside, for the past 275 days or so, I’ve been reminded about the houseboat interest via text message and in conversation. The barriers to the now digitally recorded wish list item are endless yet the drive still seems to be there.

The gift of list making is strong with this one.

So I remind you as you open your Christmas presents this year, consider the gift giver’s intention before you scoff at those bracelets you assumed were napkin rings.

After all, as I was told my great-grandfather used to say each time this year,

We all got all too G*d D*mn much. 

Happy Holidays!

 

Cookies and Catch Up

Great news, guys. The Murphalewski Bed and Breakfast just wrapped four straight weeks of out-of-town guests. That means 7 midwesterners are entering the winter season a little bronzer than usual and many local restaurant staffers here in Sarasota are actually starting to think I have friends. It’s a win-win!

Now you may be asking if I’m glad the four-week rush is over. Truth is, I loved having our friends and family stay with us. Each visit came with a reminder of how blessed we are to have friends and family that love us enough to leave crappy weather behind and sit on the beach all day. We realize our location may benefit us this time of year but regardless, we appreciate the time and effort (and flight delays) spent coming to visit.

So what have I been doing with all my free time since the last houseguest left on Sunday? Baking cookies of course.

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It seems like the only thing I have to show for the last 4 weeks, aside from the slightly increased body fat percentage, are pictures of cookies long ago eaten by co-workers.

It’s not like me to leave you hanging over a holiday weekend without some sort of ode to a sweet treat on the blog, but I’ve been sidetracked. You see, I’ve been trying to come to grips with the fact that our entire shopping district has been lit up like Rockafeller Center on Christmas Eve since October 24th. I’ve been wrecking my brain trying to figure out in what world this is acceptable but then I remembered a saying my dad always says this time of year.

You know, this might be the last nice day we have to put the Christmas lights up so we better get to it. 

Wait. I’m sorry. He usually waits until an ice storm is in the vicinity around December 20th to say that. And they still live in Illinois so…

So in spite of the extremely prematurely lit palm trees and unseasonably hot temperatures, I thought I’d share a few photos from the last four weeks to catch you up.

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but how about that sweet lady in the background?

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IMG_5484sugar cookies, royal icing, baking, breakfast at tiffany's cookies, bridal shower, dessert, tiffany blue sugar cookiesIMG_5482sugar cookies, royal icing, baking, breakfast at tiffany's cookies, bridal shower, dessert, tiffany blue sugar cookiesAnd now you know what my photostream looks like. I’ve got two weeks until Thanksgiving and our next visitors so if you need me I’ll be either running or napping in preparation. Happy Friday!

 

Wedding Snapshots: Bridal Party

You know this whole newlywed thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Sure it started off easy enough. Honeymoon in Italy. Frequent trips to Crate and Barrel to buy more ramekins. Date nights every weekend.

But then three months go by and you find yourself feeling isolated and filling the time with conversations with your dog. OK, so you’ve always talked to the dog but last week you were somewhat convinced he actually had an opinion on which direction you began your evening walk.

They say communication is the key to a good relationship and considering I received a bachelors degree in it, I’d have to agree, but I’d go ahead and put an addendum in it that added the following:

FaceTime.

FaceTime. Saving marriages where one party goes to Prague for 11 days, comes back for 4, leaves for Manchester another 14 days, comes back for 10, leaves for Mexico for 7 days, comes back for 14 and then spends the remainder of October in Chile. Not that I’m counting the days or anything.

Technology is an amazing thing. Sure the time difference can be tough and the frequency in which you bounce ideas off the dog instead of your new husband a little odd, but the truth is, being able to communicate with someone even when they’re across the globe for work is pretty awesome.

I’ve always considered myself a pretty independent person. If independence is defined as someone who surrounds herself with family and friends and loved ones because she feels more whole when she’s spending time with others than when she’s by herself. See also needy extrovert.

So what are you getting at with your facetious references to marital woes and global technology, Sarah?

I’m so glad you ask.

I’m starting to think distance may in fact make the heart grow fonder? At least it seems to be working for me as it relates to Matt, my family and our friends.

When your social circle shrinks exponentially whether it be due to a cross country move, the addition of children or a busy work schedule, your blessings really seem to come into focus.

Blessings in the form of friends and family who take time to reach out amongst their busy schedules. Who maintain friendships over the years even as shared interests and activities wane and who most recently, spend time and money to be a special part of your wedding day, not getting nearly enough credit or publicity for doing so:

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So I’d like to invite you to the grand opening of the Murphalewski B&B this September. No pressure to book early, but I should mention that our beach was recently named #1 in the USA on TripAdvisor and we have over 250 days of sunshine annually.

See you soon!

Wedding Snapshots: the details

When it comes to wedding and party photos, I’m a sucker for detail shots. And if you’re a sucker for detail shots then we should be best friends. Which is pretty much what our photographer and I became as soon as I looked at her work and saw that she appreciated the little details just as much as I do.

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There’s just something in the details. Don’t get me wrong, you may not get the same emotion with a detail shot as you do with a candid, but I love the way that the details give you a feel for the entire day. As if the theme (if there is one) is all wrapped up into a pretty little detailed package.

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So without further ado, here are some details from our wedding day taken by the talented Wright Photographs out of Champaign.
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Wedding Snapshots: The Groom

You know who doesn’t get enough fuss at a wedding?

The Groom.

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And why not? Last time I checked, they were just as much a part of the 1+1+1=1 equation as the bride. (For those of you who with an engineering background, the extra one is representative of God) And yet, here they stand on the wedding day, looking all relaxed and sipping bourbon after their long morning workout. Meanwhile, when their bride attempted to go for a run, she got 10 minutes out and realized she didn’t in fact have time for it and spent the rest of the morning just trying to stop sweating long enough for the makeup artist to finish up thus killing any chance at an endorphin release for the next 12 hours.

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But this is about the groom, remember? And what a handsome groom he was. And today, some 65 days since we made our vows to love one another as long as we both shall live, we celebrate the birthday that puts him two years closer to the finish line than I am.

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Kidding.

I think we all know he’s far too healthy and stubborn to go before I do.

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So here’s a montage of my handsome groom in celebration of his 33rd birthday. A post he’ll 80 percent scoff at, and 20% secretly love.

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Wedding snapshots: The Ceremony

They say girls dream about their wedding day from a young age.

I wasn’t one of those girls.

If I wore a dress, I usually rocked a pair of shorts under it. And in my mind, princess referenced ladies like Belle or Diana, not the cut of a diamond.

As I got older and my love for party planning and design grew along with my collection of bridesmaid dresses, I fielded a lot of comments assuming my future wedding to a not yet in the picture groom was already planned.

Truth is, the only time I ever thought about a wedding day was when I was in church. Now you may assume I take my religion seriously, and I do, but I must admit that my reasons for contemplating future wedding plans while attending Sunday mass over the years was pretty selfish.

You see, I planned on getting married in the same church I received all of my sacraments in. The same place that in 4th grade I confessed my sins for the times “I was maybe being mean to my sister or might have lied to my mom.”

There was just one problem. It had blue carpet.

Bright Cubbie blue carpet.

At one point I even got crazy enough to mention the idea of getting married (still no groom in the picture) at nearby St. Agnes. It had burgundy carpet and it was technically the parish in which we now lived. And burgundy carpet was better than blue, right? Not according to my mother and her mother. Wrong. Way wrong.

I thought about it over the years as awesome priest after awesome priest got transferred out of our home church to go off and witness the weddings of other lucky brides. Each time, I remember thinking I’d probably end up with a priest who knew nothing about me, especially since I no longer lived in Springfield.

And once I moved to Chicago, found an amazing parish and eventually met the man who would stand up next to me for our wedding day, I considered how we could swing getting married at Old St. Pats now that we were living in Florida.

God has a way of saying “I told you so” if you finally allow yourself to listen. When Matt and I decided to get married last year, there was no doubt in my mind where we’d have our ceremony. I let go of any assumptions I had about the way my church should look or feel or by whom the mass would be led. And when I did, I realized my home parish had everything I could ever look for in a church. It had family and friends who loved and supported us. It had people who cared enough about us as a couple to speak, sing, witness and pray. It had an awesome priest who took the time to get to know us and offered realistic and comforting advice for our upcoming marriage. It had history. Years of celebrations and sacraments.

And it had beautiful tile where the blue carpet once was. A perk I can only assume was given to us for waiting until our thirties to get married.

Our wedding ceremony was my favorite part of the wedding day, even though I lost it multiple times. Here are just a few pictures from our talented Wright Photographs to help illustrate the love and support we received.

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Birthday lessons

July is a huge birthday month in our family. Beginning early in the month, we celebrate 10 human birthdays and one very large dog’s. And the following month doesn’t slow down much either. There must have been something in the water from the years 1925 to 2006.

The month kicks off with the birthday celebration of my oldest nephew Owen and ramps up a few days later as we mark the 90th birthday of my grandfather, Ed. Our recent wedding travels limit us from being there in person to celebrate this year but from 9 to 90, there are plenty of lessons these two have taught me over the years. Things like:

The meaning behind the phrase, “I remember the day you were born.”

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Your choice in beer should align with that of your favorite sports team, whichever relationship develops first.

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And when it comes to extracurriculars, choose something you can play as you grow older.

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Blondes really do have more fun.

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You can dance if you want to.

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And more than anything, remember, family is everything.

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Happy Birthday to all of my favorite guys this month!