Because the important moments in life just don’t fit in a status update! I started this blog when I was training for my first ½ Ironman, (70.3 miles) to record what I hoped would be growth and progress but ended up being a huge learning experience. Although fitness is one of the key ingredients to a happy life, it certainly isn't the only ingredient. My blog has evolved to document growth, progress and setbacks in other areas too. From my surprise proposal in Rome and wedding in the fall of 2013, to Mom's devastating stage IV cancer diagnosis and death 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Who knows what shape it will take, but thanks for being along for the ride.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Christmas, 2017

We celebrated Christmas morning with my Dad and brother on the 23rd because we were flying to Oregon on the 24th. "GranpaGlennie" arrived at 9am and with Grandpa's permission, Baby A opened her first gift, a very special one from him. Starting 6 months prior, he purchased her a Playmobil grande mansion and then spent time filling all of the rooms with detailed furniture, including a woman with red hair on an exercise bike (me) and a grandfather with a white beard reading a newspaper. Cats in beds by the fireplace, a playroom for children, ornate rugs and so many other treasures. 

This grande mansion occupied her for quite awhile, and while she was playing, GranpaGlennie set about helping my husband wrap her swing set that had been installed in our back yard while. We had concealed the installation for two days by taping paper to the outside of the sliding glass door and any windows facing out. 

While they were doing this, I made a breakfast that Mom would have made, with lots of sausages. Missing her was heavy on my heart, and the night before I imagined her arriving with them to celebrate, giving me a huge hug at the door and sitting down with our cups of coffee, anticipating the big reveal of the gifts. Christmas was her favorite time of year, and through her joy of celebrating, it quickly became mine as well. 
Mom and I, 2007 (?)

I grew up quite poor. There was an ebb and flow of finances because Mom stayed home and Dad was sometimes out of work. Until he entered the military in my early teens, times could be tight.  But at Christmastime, you would never know it. Looking back, I don't know how they pulled it off, but my brother and I always received everything we asked for and more. Always more. After we opened all of our gifts and were beyond thrilled, there was always another special gift from Santa that had been overlooked. He may have left it on the roof or in another room. In my mid-20's, it was a beautifully wrapped camcorder, on top of the washing machine that I only found when asked to switch the laundry.

Being able to start this same showered-with-gifts tradition with A lessens the hurt and pain of having another Christmas without Mom. It's hard to be too sad seeing the joy in her eyes, and hearing her squeal with excitement and jump up and down. I thought Christmas was fun when I was a kid, but it has nothing on this!

Does this mean she will be spoiled? Absolutely not. Kids who end up spoiled are given presents instead of presence. This was Mom's philosophy and I know it to be true. And it doesn't mean she won't have a job, or earn some of the things we give her in the future, like a car. Although I was given everything I wanted at Christmas, it was special time. I was not given whatever I wanted year-'round, and have worked consistently since my first job at 16, working the  drive-thru at Del Taco.

But I digress; back to present day. After about 30 minutes of wrapping the swing-set, everyone came back in and we set about opening the presents after breakfast. She received many things she had been asking for, like Mr. Bucket or the swim-to-me puppy, and many things that she will cherish for years to come, like the hand-painted Russian nesting doll set that my father gave her. She was also given a private jet and red Porche, to go with her mansion, from Uncle Glennie.

After everything was complete, I took her into her room for a bit, while Daddy removed all of the paper from the windows. Then we came out to open our stockings. She could tell something was out there, but was not sure what it could be. She wandered out to explore, but remained puzzled until GranpaGlennie unwrapped the slide. Her reaction in the video below was priceless, and everything I hoped it would be. Inside, up at the top, were her presents from Santa, a "Lil' baby. And cars."

That evening, we had dinner and a gift exchange over at her cousins' house before catching our flight the next morning to Oregon. She missed her nap and only snuck in a few minutes before the plane landed, but she was still as good as gold.

Grandpa Swanek picked us up at the airport, and we made the 30 minute drive to their property, arriving before nightfall on Christmas Eve. The air was crisp, dropping to 30 degrees at night, but there wasn't any snow and surprisingly, no rain. My husband had sent up gifts for her that I didn't know about, and I had sent up some gifts for her that he didn't know about; a Paradise Galleries baby doll and Barbie Dream Horse. Plus, she had her gift from her grandparents so she had a lot to open Christmas morning, and I couldn't wait.
Uncle Ben
Having just had practice the day before, she "got" it this time, and wanted to wake Daddy up earlier than he would have liked. She was just so excited, and it was contagious. "Get up Daddy, get up!" We stalled a bit by going to see her pony which Grandma had moved closer to the house with Honey, the alpaca.
After she opened all of her presents, we went for a walk around the lake and she loved all the space to run. Oregon is such a magical place, and it "felt" like Christmas there. 

“I don’t want my children to follow in my footsteps. I want them to take the path next to me and go further than I could have ever dreamt possible.”


  1. She is such a little angel! That video is too cute! What is in the front of my memory is Bowen jumping up and down with excitement when he saw the tent my parents gave him. I so wish I would have caught it on video but it is ingrained in my memory :) Can I ask where you purchased the swing set from? We want to get one as well and this one looks perfect.

    1. Thank you so much! We purchased it from Sam's Club when it was on sale. My husband makes it his mission to find good deals!