Category Archives: Christmas

All the Christmas Things!

I keep hearing from people that they’ve taken down their Christmas decorations already and I have audibly gasped every time, ha! To me it still feels like we’re in the middle of Christmas because we will be celebrating with my family over this coming weekend. Plus we all know I’m not taking down Christmas decorations until mid-January anyway. 😉 I’ve been terrible about updating here lately, but photography busy season is coming to a close so I will have a little more free time on my hands again. Until then, I want to fill you in on a couple of fun Christmas things that have happened over the past couple of weeks!

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Christmas parties! We went to three big parties this year and I took photos at… none. Ha! Totally got caught up in talking and didn’t even think to pull out my phone. Thankfully, I was able to snag the photo above from a friend’s Facebook from one of the parties. So there it is, proof of at least one awesome party we attended. 😉

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We went to our first ever Drive Through Nativity and it was awesome! For local people: it was held by Longview Heights Baptist in Olive Branch – we definitely plan to go again next year!

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Lessons & Carols at St. John’s Episcopal is one of our favorite Christmas traditions every year! For more on why we love it so much see this blog post.

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Another yearly tradition is making cookies and delivering them to our neighbors. This year one of our teenagers came over to help us with these creations. She is super talented!

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Our church hosted it’s first ever Christmas Eve Service (except that it was a Christmas Eve Eve because of how the holiday fell this year). It was absolutely amazing. I hope they’ll do it again next year!

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We celebrated actual Christmas day with my parents-in-law and you guys… it was a great weekend. Which is huge. Because of Christopher’s dad’s failing health we have made a point to visit them as often as we can over the past couple of years and most of those visits have been really difficult emotionally. So to have a weekend together marked with so many good memories was so precious to us. It felt a little like a Christmas miracle. 🙂

Have you already taken down your Christmas decorations? If not, is that coming soon?

Anyone else still have Christmas celebrations to come? 

Love Rach

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A Christmas Song

The band Downhere is currently on hiatus, but they wrote and performed together from 1999 until 2013. The drummer, Jeremy, and I were friends back in the early-to-mid 2000’s. We’re still friends on social media, but I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time we had an actual conversation. Though for old time’s sake, here’s a photo for your viewing pleasure:

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This was circa 2004 when I hung out with the Downhere guys after they opened for another band. They sat with me and my college buddies for the rest of the concert. I remember feeling so cool in front of my friends that I actually knew the band, haha!

Anyway, they have some truly amazing music and I could write a whole blog post sharing my favorites, but today I want to share my favorite Christmas song by them.

Follow the star to a place unexpected
Would you believe, after all we’ve projected,
A child in a manger?
Lowly and small, the weakest of all
Unlikeliest hero, wrapped in his mother’s shawl
Just a child
Is this who we’ve waited for?

How many kings step down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
And how many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that is torn all apart
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

Bringing our gifts for the newborn Savior
All that we have, whether costly or meek
Because we believe.
Gold for his honor, and frankincense for his pleasure
And myrrh for the cross he will suffer
Do you believe?
Is this who we’ve waited for?

All for me
All for you

Those are some powerful lyrics, my friends. And in the hustle and bustle of this last week before Christmas, it’s such a good reminder of why we are actually celebrating this holiday. Happy Christmas week, friends!
Love Rach

That one time I forgot to tell you about the cookies

It was brought to my attention a couple of weeks ago after I posted my Christmas recap that I failed to show you guys Christopher’s fabulous cookie artwork. He reads my blog (everyone say “Hi Christopher!”) and has never once said that I left out an important detail to a post. So clearly this one is a big deal. I would hate for you guys to miss out on the incredible talent of my dear Mr. Vendetti so I’m making this right today!

cookiesChristopher with our niece and nephew working away on decorating their cookies!

cookie collageLook at his snowman! The “carrot” nose is even sticking straight out. He’s so creative. He also made the elf on the plate. The more basic cookies are my doing, haha!

On a more serious note… my husband really is incredibly talented. Not only can he make adorable looking cookies, but he also custom builds so much stuff around our house. In fact, as a Christmas gift from him to my sisters this year, he built two sets of reindeer for them.

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Are those not adorable? He built a set for me a couple of years ago and my sisters have admired them every time they see them. So he decided that he wanted to build them each a set. Which is just precious to me. I love that he has that brother/sister relationship with my sisters. 🙂

Our current project is our kitchen and it is looking pretty incredible. We got held up with counter tops (long story that I’ll explain when I show the before & afters), but we are making progress again! Hopefully it will all be finished soon so I can share it with you guys (and so I will have counter top space again, ha!).

When you decorate cookies, do you get super creative or stick to the basics? 

Do you build things? Or do you have someone who has built things for you?

Love Rach

Ringing in 2016 with more Christmas! :)

We rang in 2016 with friends in Memphis. And I took exactly zero photos. But it was still a great night! Our final hours of 2015 included a fun dinner with Rachel & her family as well as a party at a friends’ house. We managed to stay up into the wee hours of the night (1am for this old soul) to properly ring in the new year. And next thing we knew, 2016 had arrived and we were off on the road again to visit Christopher’s parents!

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We swap off the holidays every year so since we had Thanksgiving with Christopher’s parents this year, that meant Christmas with mine. (And next year will be Thanksgiving with my fam & Christmas with his). But since Christmas is a big deal to both of our families we always try to make a point to see both families around Christmas even if it’s not on actual Christmas day. Since the week before Christmas we were busy cruisin’, we decided to use New Year’s weekend as our time with Christopher’s parents. Which is really just a wordy, over-explaining way of saying, “we celebrated Christmas with Christopher’s parents this weekend!” Ha!

opening gifts

So of course there were presents to be opened! My mother-in-law gives some of the best reactions. It’s such fun to see her get excited over gifts. 🙂

making art collage

My father-in-law’s dementia continues to progress, so we did some research and came up with some fun ideas of things we can do together as a family. Since Tony (my father-in-law) still loves crafty things, we brought clay (check out Christopher’s “clay man” up there!), a spirograph (which honestly Christopher & I probably had more fun with than anyone, ha!), and paints. The paints were Tony’s favorite and we loved watching him have fun. Really the whole time was wonderful. Sometimes it can be difficult for my father-in-law to communicate, but during this time he really lit up and chatted with us more than he has in a long time. Like I always say when I share about him, we are thankful for the good moments. 🙂

playing basketball

Speaking of good moments… one afternoon while we were there Tony and Christopher shot hoops together. For those who don’t know, my husband loves basketball. And that love started when he was still a kid because his dad taught him the sport and played it with him. So these little moments are especially precious to us now.

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One evening over the weekend, we went to see the lights at a local park. My favorites were definitely the stars suspended in the trees. It reminded me of the “Looking through your eyes” song from Quest for Camelot. Anyone, anyone? I haven’t seen the movie in at least 15 years and yet I still remember all the lyrics to the songs because I played the soundtrack on repeat as a young teen. But I’m veering off topic here…

the fam

We had a lovely Christmas together! As always, I am continually amazed by my mother-in-law’s strength and kindness. And I am grateful for the good moments with my father-in-law. 🙂

Did you stay up to ring in 2016? 

How do you work out seeing family during the holidays? 

Did you ever have a Spirograph? Christopher and I couldn’t stop playing with it, ha!

If you’ve had experience with someone suffering from dementia, I’d love to hear any ideas you have for things we can do together as a family. 

Love Rach

I’m dreaming of a plaid Christmas…

Hello my friends! We’ve spent the last two weekends celebrating Christmas with family and we’ll spend this coming weekend as well as MLK weekend celebrating Christmas with family as well. So we’re really only halfway through the celebrations at this point. I love Christmas so this is pretty wonderful in my book. 🙂

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We spent actual Christmas day at my parents’ house this year. They live across the bay from Mobile, AL and this year it was 80 degrees and raining all week. And so so humid. Totally “Christmas weather”. 😉 On the bright side, from Wednesday when we arrived until Sunday when we left, we never stopped eating incredible food. I come from a family of great cooks so when we get together, there is no shortage of delicious food. 🙂

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That’s my fam rocking plaid. We’re cool like that. 😉

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Check out that fort! Christopher and our nephew, Wesley, were so cute playing board games in the fort. 🙂

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Aren’t we adorable? My 9-year-old niece posed us like this and the photo actually turned out pretty cute. For those who are new to the blog – that’s me with my younger sister, Abby (middle) and one of my older sisters, Holly (right).

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With my mom and two of my sisters. I can’t put into words how grateful I am for these ladies.

I came home with a full stomach and a full heart. I also came home with a cold thanks to half my family being sick. 😉 But it’s worth every crumpled up tissue to have been able to have that time with my family. We’re home for a couple of days before we head out again so this week will be catch-up week as I try to get caught up on all things photo editing, cleaning, laundry, and blogging. Hopefully come January I’ll be back to my normal blogging schedule. 🙂

Have you made it through the holidays without getting sick so far? A couple of people we know have had the stomach bug so I’m more than happy to have missed that one!

Are you finished with Christmas celebrating or do you still have more to come?

Love Rach

I’m still here!

Hello friends!! I am missing writing regularly in this little corner of the internet. I know I keep saying it, but this fall/Christmas photography season has been so busy. Which is awesome. Because I love what I do. But I will say, I let myself get so overbooked this season that I’ve had to give up three of my favorite hobbies. Since busy season began I haven’t gone to the gym or read a book and I’ve hardly been present on this blog. I miss those things. But I know that as this busy season winds down, I’ll miss the fast pace of the photography world. So I’m trying to be sure I enjoy it while I can before the winter lull sets in.

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That’s my current edit list. Only six more to edit! I have a handful of sessions still coming up later this month (as I photograph a session, it gets added to the edit list which is why those aren’t on there yet), but for the most part – busy season is ending. My goals for this week are pretty straight forward: finish all editing early, respond to emails,  go to the gym at least once, and attempt to catch up on at least some blog reading. We’ll see what gets accomplished!

So I have had to re-prioritize my hobbies, but that’s just during the “day time working hours.” Our nights and weekends are still packed full of social life, volunteer work, and of course… LOTS of Christmas right now! 🙂

opryland collageUs outside Opryland Hotel in Nashville this past weekend. Their lights are incredible! And all their decorations are huge! Look at that bow nearly as big as I am that is an “ornament” on an enormous tree!

us at Ice!Us with our friends, Stephen and Julia, at the Opryland ice display. 2 million pounds of hand carved ice kept at a chilly 9 degrees! So pretty! There was also an ice slide that we went down where I felt completely undignified (you lay on your back with your feet in the air which reminded me of a trip to the OBGYN, ha!), but it was SO much fun! 🙂 We had lots of laughter this past weekend. 🙂

I want to blog about ALL things Christmas related, but that would be several posts worth. So instead, let it be recorded here that our holiday season has been and is currently packed full with evenings around the fireplace, Christmas caroling, making cookies for our neighbors, Christmas parties, lots of twinkly lights, Advent readings, a couple of trips, lots of time with our families and friends, and a ridiculous amount of delicious food. I mean, really… what more do I need to say? Tis the season, my friends! 🙂

What Christmassy things have you been up to lately?

What are the first things to go when you get busy with work or life? For me it was the gym & reading. I’ve been attempting to hold on to blogging a little, but it has been pretty pitiful lately, ha!

Love Rach

Traveling Alone

There is one thing I haven’t mentioned yet in these updates about Christmas in January with my family… Christopher wasn’t there. 😦 This was the first time in a really, really long time that we have been apart during a family Christmas (even though it was the end of January, it still felt like Christmas because we were all together and celebrating). Even before we were married we were spending Christmases together so this was the strangest feeling. To be with family, celebrating together, doing our traditional things… but to have my favorite person absent. It was certainly bittersweet.

rae and chris2005Us in 2005 at our very first family Christmas together – after we’d been dating a little over a year. (We didn’t spend our first Christmas together in 2004 because I went back to China to see my family and that was a bit far for him to travel with his girlfriend of 3 months 😉 )

I sent him as many updates and photos (especially of the kids opening their gifts) as I could over the weekend to help him feel more involved. But he was pretty bummed to not be there. He loves my family. Like, really loves them. And he hated missing out on Christmas with them. But it’s just the busiest time of year for him right now. While we were celebrating Christmas this past Saturday he was at the office all day. It was a hard decision for him to make because he stands by the fact that family comes before work. He’s always saying that he “works to live, not lives to work”. He’d never miss out on a December 25th Christmas gathering, but this was such a gray area.  If it weren’t for the fact that he just saw most of my family over new years and will see Abby soon (she’s coming to Memphis, YAY!), then he definitely would’ve figured something out with his boss. But as it was… he ended up staying behind in Memphis to work while I traveled to Alabama.

drivin2The sky on the drive home this past Sunday. Gorgeous. 🙂

drivinCruisin’. 🙂 {For those concerned about my safety during this photo: I had my phone set up on my dashboard acting as a GPS (and in easy reach as I changed my playlist). So I pressed the 5 second timer button on my camera and badabing, took a selfie with my eyes still on the road. 😉 }

 This was my first ever road trip by myself. 7 hours in a car on my own. All my college road trips were with friends and I got married just after I graduated so Christopher has been my travel buddy since then. I hadn’t thought much about it, but it’s true – I’d never driven anywhere on my own (flown? Yes, plenty, but not driven). To be honest, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. I thought I’d be bored out of my mind and have trouble staying awake, but I really didn’t. I had a pretty fabulous peppy playlist (lots of boybands. lots.of.boybands and t.swift!) that kept me energized and singing at the top of my lungs. And then I had family calling to check in on me and to chat. And then a sweet friend who kept me company over the phone for the last hour and a half of my drive down there. 🙂 So the drive both there and back wasn’t bad at all. I definitely prefer to travel with company, but it’s good to know that I’m grown up enough (at 27 years old, ha!) to go on a road trip by myself. 🙂

How old were you when you drove a long distance (let’s say over 2 hours) by yourself for the first time? Am I the only one who managed to make it to my late 20s without driving by myself? haha!

Any favorite bands/artists that always make your road trip playlist?
Love Rach