*adopting Paddington

On Saturday my husband and I went to see the new Paddington Bear movie. I don’t recall reading the books when I was little, but I knew who Paddington was. He is definitely iconic.

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I wanted to see the movie because it looked very cute, as well as relive our London adventure!

The movie had a lot of deeper meanings, but my favorite was how adopting a pet can bring your family together! The mother in the story wasn’t afraid to walk up to Paddington and ask him where he was staying. She of course had to convince the husband to let them take him home for the night. A bear, or any animal of course is a curious creature, like any of our pets, Paddington made a huge mess shortly after entering their home. Of course he didn’t do it on purpose, but it made the father angry. The next morning the mother was supposed to take him to the authorities, but of course couldn’t because she interested in Paddington’s history. Paddington quickly turns into a hero, even for their teenage daughter. The mother could see the family was starting to change, and the father was starting to enjoy the adventure. After a bad guy gets Paddington into trouble, with the father extremely angry, Paddington runs away! The family then has to join together to find the one who could keep them together!

This story of course reminded my husband and I about adopting Bruce Wayne (our dog). He was such a hassle the first few days, he cried at night and explored into places he shouldn’t have. Over the years he still is a trouble maker, getting himself hurt, eating chocolate, chewing on clothes. But again, it is just his nature. Bruce Wayne has made so many of our friends and family smile and laugh. When you get home from a hard day at work and see his excitement, you can’t help but smile. The love of a pet brings families together. That’s what Paddington did for his adopted family! Please give your family the joy of having a pet! They can make your life so much more rewarding!

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“Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.” ~ Karen Davison

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*merry christmas

I hope everyone’s holiday is off to a good start. I’m a little bummed that its raining instead of snowing, but at least it is not freezing and hopefully my plane won’t be delayed tomorrow!

Christmas has always been a big deal in my family. The night before Christmas we would attend church service. On Christmas morning my sister and I were always so excited to see the presents under the tree. Santa always delivered! Stockings are opened first, our stockings are stuffed with candy! After mom got her coffee we would sit under the living room tree to open gifts.

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We each took turn opening one gift at a time! I’m not sure what I received in the picture below on the right, but I was definitely excited! I remember asking for a boombox with CD and cassette player, one Christmas in the late 90s. But I loved getting Barbies, Laura Ingalls extras, and I went through a Titanic phase. A few years I asked Stanta for the internet, AOL dialup to be exact! Hours later we would have a huge meal prepared by my mom. When we were younger we would visit Grandparents in north east Indiana.

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Our Christmas traditions haven’t changed too much. We will be opening gifts this evening with my parents, sister, her boyfriend, and Daniel. I will still make everyone sit in their original spots. Dad is on a chair to the left of the tree, Ashley on the floor next to him, Mom on the couch, and me to the right of the tree on the floor. I’ll have Daniel sit on the couch above me, and Matt will be behind Ashley! I like traditions! Afterwards we are attending the 10:30pm Christmas Eve church service. My Christmas morning the past 5 years have been spent with Daniel’s family. We watch his nieces open presents from Santa. This year is going to be a little more crowded, we have 2 baby nieces. Christmas will probably start to change as the nieces get older or when me or my sister have kids.

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For lunch Daniel and I will be hosting our parents over for a late lunch! My mom is preparing the ham and I am taking care of the sides and the dessert! Of course I made a cheesecake, Peppermint Oreo! I’m excited to host, it’s kind of my thing.

I am blessed for all the wonderful Christmases that I have been apart of. Although I’ve always wanted to take a trip with my family on Christmas, instead of buying one another presents. I feel next year we should partake in some volunteering at a local organization to help those who haven’t been as blessed. Luckily I have one of the greatest families in the world who is full of love!

Can’t wait to share my family photos with you!

 

*1 week until London

In 1 week I will be in London, England!

I’m trying very hard to contain my excitement! Our itinerary has gotten a little out of hand. I was only planning on doing some research of the places I wanted to check out. And we do what we feel like each day. But then I realized 6 days in London was not enough! I have our itinerary in a half inch binder full of times, places to see, tickets already purchased, and zoomed in maps of places will be visiting!

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Each day we will tear out that days itinerary, so we have our resources that will fit into my mini purse, instead of hauling around the binder! We used this method when we were in Paris, last November!

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When we arrive into Heathrow we will be having Blacklane car service pick us up. We used this company in Paris! I highly recommend them when you travel outside of the USA. The have many discounts through out the year. We are getting both of our rides to and from the airport at 30% off! You can do all your booking online, months prior. Both of our drivers in Paris were very polite and on time! I’m normally not such a high end person, I drive a cheap Fiat in my normal life. But I like have a driver in foreign countries. I don’t have to take a public transportation fussing with my bags or worried they will get stolen. Plus when I’m on vacation I want it to be better then my daily life!

Speaking of being better, the hotel we booked I can tell is going to be fabulous! We will be staying at the 4 Star St. Ermin’s, a part of the Marriott group! Check out there website to see their incredible inside!

(pictured below is St. Ermin’s entrance decked in Christmas lights for 2014,

picture found from St Ermin’s Facebook page)

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I’m excited to eat breakfast at the new Cereal Killer Cafe,  where they sale over 120 different types of cereal from around the world. To top it off, they have 30 milk choices and 20 different toppings!

“There’s nowhere else like London. Nothing at all, anywhere.” ~ Vivienne Westwood

 

*my “child”- bruce wayne

As much as I loved Princess, I also have fallen in love with my Pomeranian, Bruce Wayne. I have always been a dog person, so it took some begging to get Daniel on board. In September of 2011, we found a pomeranian breeder on the north side of Los Angeles. I wanted a Sheltie, but since we lived in an apartment I also wanted a smaller dog. We had every intention of getting Bruce’s sister, but when we arrived all she did was bark. Bruce came and set on Daniel’s lap and was quiet. Getting a boy dog also allowed us to name him Bruce Wayne, for Daniel’s Batman obsession.

It took three hours to get back to Orange County and Bruce was extremely frighten. He threw up, pooped and peed a lot during those three hours. The first week of sleeping was a nightmare too! We tried doing the crate thing at night but he would just whine. Daniel had to sleep on the floor next to him to keep him quite. We didn’t want to wake the neighbors.

(pictured below is Bruce within the first 30minutes of arriving home)

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He has been such a great blessing to our life. He is beyond excited to see me when I get home from work, that I can’t help but to be in a good mood! Daniel has absolutely fallen in love with Bruce. If we are gone too many hours from Bruce, Daniel starts to whine about how much he misses Bruce. He also hates it when Bruce spends the night at my parents. Bruce has definitely become our “child”. We take way too many photos of him, and I’m sure our family thinks we talk about him way too much!

(Below is my favorite picture of Bruce Wayne, a few weeks after we adopted him, shows you how small he was!)

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We had a lot of great adventures with Bruce the past three years! We had so much fun taking him to the Huntington dog beach, but he was terrified of the ocean! He’s been to the dog park infront of the Hollywood sign! He even flew with us to Indiana in July of 2013 to spend the week without a leash in my parents backyard. This fall we took him to the apple orchard for their corn maze!

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He used to hate car rides, he threw up on almost every ride! But we kept taking him on them so he would get used to it. Last year we bought a bridge for him to enjoy the back seat all by himself and he loves it! He did great on a journey to visit Ashley in Phoenix last February. And was prefect on our 30 hour road trip back to Indiana in May!

(below Bruce chewing on Cheerios on our road trip)

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He loves car rides, chewing on bones, cheese, people (he’s a people person, not a big fan of other dogs) and standing like a human! His new favorite thing is to sit on the ledge of our front window like a cat and people watch! He hates baths and when we leave. He throws his toys around and has angry barks, as sincere as we find it, the poor guy thinks we aren’t coming back!

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We love taking pictures of Bruce, most of my Instagram photos are of him. But I can’t help it, he is too cute! Some of the pictures I posted on Facebook are here!

“A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes, or designer clothes. A water log stick will do just fine. A dog doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your hear and he’ll give you his. How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?” ~Marly & Me, by John Grogan

*salvation army

Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas season is in full throttle! That means a volunteer from the Salvation Army is standing next to every entrance of what seems likes every shop. We put our head down and think, please don’t see me, as we quickly walk past them.

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This year, I’m not going to do that. Although my husband and I live paycheck to paycheck, we still have an incredible life! Through out the year whenever we have spare change from our pockets we put it into a mason jar and it just sits there. I feel too busy to spend the time wrapping the coins to take to the bank. I also do not want to take the coins to the counting machine because they make too much of a profit. I have decided to make them Christmas coins.

I will put the coins in a  Ziplock bag in each of our cars with the coins. Every time we are out and see a Salvation Army volunteer we have some money to give them. Maybe my $20 in coins won’t make a big difference, but its better then not giving anything at all.

I suggest you keep some coins on you at all times during the holiday season. All of those coins will add up and we can make a difference!

 

“Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves.” ~Eric Sevareid

 

 

(Above picture found on the Salvation Army’s website)

*gifting

Christmas is 26 days away! Christmas cards to family and friends went in the mail today!

I try to show the people I love, that I love them throughout the year. I see something in the store that reminds me of them and I buy it, no matter what time of year. I also have three pen pals that I send cards to through out the year to remind them that someone is thinking of them. My mom, Linda, and mother in law, Starla, were always sending me care packages during my years in California. It made living so far away from family a little easier! Now, I have a few friends in California that often send cards to. I have always enjoyed giving and receiving snail mail! My friend Chelsea posted online a card I had sent her, “Totally made my Monday! Thank you @amberks07 you are the most wonderful person! Snail Mail rocks my world!”

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I always get a head start on Christmas. I like having it done before Thanksgiving, I hate dealing with all of the crowds. I also do not spend a lot of money and rarely pay full price. Making items is great too! The bottom line is- it’s important to give. I found some very pretty jewelry for $10 and under at Kohl’s for some family members! The jewelry were items I would have bought myself! Around Christmas time I also try very hard not to buy for myself. The other 11 months of the year can be about rewarding myself, December is a month for our loved ones. (pictured below is the collection of Christmas presents already bought and wrapped 6 weeks before Christmas 2014!)

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I appreciate any kind of gift at Christmas and any time of year. Last year, Michael (Daniel’s brother) bought me a $10 Starbucks gift card and I was thrilled! We were told not to exchange gifts (I did anyway), so the gesture that he thought of me made my holiday! Pictured below is from Christmas 2010, it was a great Christmas!

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My husband and I stopped giving each other Christmas gifts a few years ago. We try to buy each other small things through out the year. My favorite is when he brings me candy when he gets gas. Instead we use our “gift” money to use to do something together. I rather create a memory. Last year we were in Paris a month prior to Christmas. This year we leave for London the day after Christmas. Next Christmas will probably be paying for our flights to celebrate our 5th Wedding Anniversary in France on June 11, 2016. For Valentine’s Day 2014 he made me a custom picture that he framed with our spare key to our lock on a bridge in Paris! It was a great gift that I hang next to our front door!

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As a child I hated writing thank you cards, but every birthday and holiday, if I received a gift my mom made my sister and I write a thank you card. Being 26, I still write a hand written thank you card. I know the value of money now and the thought of someone spending some of their hard earned money on me is wonderful, so they certainly deserve my thanks!

 

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” ~Winston Churchill

 

*giving thanks

I haven’t spent Thanksgiving Day with my parents since 2010! This year I will see them, but our day will be spent with Daniel’s dad and his family. I’m not mad or sad. I have spent a lot of time with my family since moving back in May. Daniel’s dad, Bill, and his wife, Roxanne moved to Florida shortly after we moved to California. Daniel has seen his dad maybe 5 times in the last three years, so he definitely deserves this time. Daniel’s aunt, Melissa, and uncle, Bob, will be hosting it this year in their home in Carmel. It’s a beautiful home and will definitely fit our large family! (pictured below is our siblings, parents, and grandparents)

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My parents and I started a tradition when we moved back. We share at least one meal a week together. We were having dinner together on Fridays, but just recently changed it to Sundays as a late lunch/ early dinner. But there are weeks where we get together for two or more meals. I like having lunch with my mom or dad on days they are off so I don’t have to eat by myself. We also take turns on who is cooking.

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We all know Thanksgiving Day was originally to celebrate those who risked their lives moving to an unknown land for religious freedom. Today we use it to remind ourselves how precious life is and that we can’t take it for granted, but shouldn’t we celebrate being thankful on a daily basis?

Things I am thankful for on a daily basis:

*My Husband (he’s the best cuddle partner when life gets rough)

*My Dog (he’s always so excited to see me)

*Having a Job (it pays the bills)

*My Family (trusting, loyal, fun times, we create our own traditions)

*My Friends (for more fun)

*A Garage (definitely with winter’s early arrival)

 

Whenever you are feeling down, remember all the things you have to be thankful for. Give yourself more things to be thankful for, the small things count! Being thankful for something daily can help you to live a wonderful life!

 

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words, but to live by them.” ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy