Friday, January 11, 2019

Christmas Vacation: Back to New York

In the Chicago airport on a 2 hour layover after being up since 3 am, I looked like I had been reincarnated as a dishrag. Ty chased the kids as they ran about the waiting area like the overtired, wild beasts that they were. I sat down at the computer station, ignoring the fact that my kids were acting like straight up hoodlums, and tried to download more photos from our trip. Anything to keep me awake since I knew we had another 3 hour flight to go! We flew back to Texas on Dec 30th from a 13 day trip back to New York. And I will declare that we had an amazingly fun time.  The entire trip was jam-packed with fun things happening non-stop. It inevitably exhausted us all, but it was still worth the exhausted trip back, the day before New Year's Eve.  Let me give you a recap before I bombard you with all of the photos...

We got to visit with Ty's family on Saratoga Lake. We did an early Christmas with his side of the family. Ty's dad always cooks a feast fit for an army. So we did dinner and then breakfast. After breakfast and mimosas one morning, we discovered a stash of Nerf guns and it turned into an all out battle with the entire family and "Run, Run Rudolph" playing in the background. That's what good memories are made of. We woke up on Christmas Eve morning to snow falling from the sky. It's been awhile since we've seen that glorious white stuff, so we were pretty thrilled even if it was just a dusting (to those NorthEast folks).

We got dressed on Christmas Eve and headed to my sister's house who lives near the mountains in upstate NY, about 25 min from Saratoga. My mom flew in from Florida, both of my sisters were there and it was great to have us all together again. My time with my family was (and always is) memorable. We did Christmas Eve food shopping at the grocery store and some last minute gift shopping. 5 girls in a truck, windows rolled down in the middle of winter singing Christmas carols at the top of their lungs while riding around upstate NY.....not something all those bystanders, or us for that matter, see everyday. We had some mouth-watering brick oven pizza for lunch and then we did our normal crazy Christmas Eve: Games, moose mugs filled with eggnog, the best dang Gingerbread Martinis I've ever tasted, Christmas Vacation playing in the background, laughs, more games and lots of appetizers. Oh! And let's not forget the "naughty" gingerbread cookies that my hilarious sister made...(She is too funny!) Ty has finally warmed up to the fact that when you come to a Hutchinson girl's party, you WILL be playing some sort of charades game. And he's pretty good actually!

On Christmas morning we woke up and everyone gathered downstairs to watch the kids open presents. My brother in law made some delicious Biscuits and Gravy for breakfasts and of course, more mimosas. After presents, my sisters, niece and I headed out for Christmas Day hike. And it was A BEAUTIFUL day for one! Not too cold but brisk enough that we wore our mittens and gloves. The sun was shining and it warmed me up despite the fact that I could see my breath. The lake that we walked beside was showing off with it's beauty. That icy, shimmering glamour that the NorthEast does so well every winter. I think a Christmas Day hike should be a new tradition for the Hutchinson girls. We relaxed the rest of the day and watched movies, ate more food and visited. Later on we lounged around and did nothing but relax.
We ended up staying at my sisters for an extra night because they were having such a blast. Maxwell and my sister's son are only 6 months apart. Last year they were not really into playing together but this year we barely saw them! They were in the playroom together most of the time. 

 The day after Christmas we headed to the mountain (which is a hop, skip and a jump from my sister's house). We went snow tubing with the kids. We had lunch in the lodge and then hot toddies outside by the fire. It made me REALLY miss NY. BUT, I will say that by the end of the two weeks, I could feel my body craving sun. Every year in Feb, I would go through some sort of sunlight-deprivation or winter blues. If you ask Ty, he says that I start to complicate everything and overreact upon everything. Almost as if I was going through a mini-life-crisis every Jan/ I'd say he's fairly accurate about that. It was like clockwork and I can only assume it was from lack of sunlight. The past 2 years, in Texas, I have NOT had this. That Texas weather has made for pleasant winters for me. So when we got home and it was in the 60's and 70's, I took a couple long walks and soaked up that sunlight!! 

We ate at 2 new restaurants in town and a couple oldie but goodies. Met with friends, old neighbors, went to Christmas parties and I even got to meet up with my work crew a couple times!! All around, a wonderful trip. The one question I was asked a lot, was how we did Christmas away from home as far as gifts. Last year we did Christmas in Siesta Keys and we told the kids that Santa would leave the a few small things but he would leave the rest of their gifts at home. So we brought one small suitcase 1/2 full of small gifts wrapped for the kids. Mostly things they could use on a plane ;) Anything we bought for family, we had shipped to my sister's house there in NY and wrapped when we got there. Then we told everyone to only get them small things. Worked both years!
 And now, without further ado, my endless photo overload. lol. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!! XOXO miss all of my peeps from back East! Until next time...

Sunday, January 6, 2019

A Brand New Year: 2019

After spending 2 weeks in New York and then traveling back to Texas the day before NYE, we were too tired to do much of anything for New Year's. We got chinese food (our last indulgence for 2018) and then watched a movie. We did a countdown with the kids at 10pm (Thank you Netflix) and then let them toast with Sparkling Cider, which they both spit out in disgust. Ha ha. The kids didn't make it to midnight but Ty and I did. We sat out on the porch and watched the neighborhood display. Texas has very lax laws for fireworks. So the fireworks in our neighborhood alone were equivalent to those that we used to watch in Saratoga Springs, NY every year. was great. We didn't have to go anywhere to enjoy some sparkle. The neighbors all set up and have parties right there in their driveways. So we did the same and drank a couple champagne mojitos before passing out. Also, I didn't take one there's that.

Despite not being hungover whatsoever, on New Year's Day, I woke up and laid in bed until noon. I drank coffee and scrolled the internet for everything under the damn sun. I listened to the kids running around the house, tearing everything apart from Christmas. But I didn't care. I just sat there in my cozy, overstuffed with 30 pillows bed and enjoyed every moment of laziness.

After I finally got up, I ate some breakfast and then had this sudden urge to organize and purge. It came over me like a switch. One minute I was feeling like I might not get out of bed and the next I took a look around and was like, I gotta get this place under control. So I spent the rest of the day organizing, purging, donating and cleaning. I sent Ty out to get storage bins and labels. I literally took every single toy that the kids have and put them in organized bins out in the garage. Now, if they want to play with a toy, they have to take a bin out and that is the ONLY one that they can play with. If they want different toys, the old bin must go back. This is the only way to keep this small house from becoming a giant play room.

I also packed up a bunch of decor and things that aren't necessary. A move is coming soon for us so I was proactive and packed away stuff that we don't use daily.

Some things that I have already started and continue to tackle into the New Year are:

Purge: Getting rid of ANYTHING we don't use or need: clothes, shoes, kitchen stuff, toys.... you name it, if we don't use it much or it's excessive, it's a goner! My donation pile is big, guys. Real big! And now I'm wondering where in the heck this stuff came from?? I mean, we didn't even bring 1/2 of what we own here and yet our house now if full again! Makes me stop and think a bit before we decide to buy something new...

Replace: I threw out a bunch of our plastic tupperware and replaced it all with glass storage containers. Bye-bye plastic toxins. Once we move, I want to buy all new cookware as well. Saying bye to most of our non-stick cookware and buying glass cookware.

Maxwell LOVES straws but I can't help but think of Tom Brady informing us of how bad straws are for the environment and so I decided it was time. I recently purchased some stainless steel straws from Amazon and hope that Maxwell will use them. No more plastic straws.

I also threw out all of my toxic cleaners. Which, I honestly didn't have many anyway. I am using all natural cleaners with less chemicals. Breathing that stuff in just isn't good for you. BUT, I will say I have the hardest time getting rid of the good toilet cleaner. None of the natural ones for the toilet have ever worked. Any suggestions? We do have a house cleaner come once in awhile but she will use our products when she cleans in our house. I ditched Tide laundry soap and I've been using this HERE for a while and LOVE it!!

Health: I started back to my normal workout routine again. It felt great (and I admit a little tiring) to start back on a consistent routine but I felt 100 times better by week's end.

We also got back on the clean eating train. This part is not hard for me at all. I have been eating clean for so long now that I actually enjoy it and after a week of eating whatever the heck I wanted. It was nice to eat healthy foods again. Now if I could get Maxwell off the pancake and waffle kick...So I did the 5 day Tone It Up cleanse and now I'm back to my own clean eating recipes. The hard part for me is kicking alcohol. I've tried numerous times to cut it out completely, but it never works. So I am going about it a different approach which is similar to what I did on the Tone It Up plan.  I'm going to pick one day a week to drink and keep it at 1-2 drinks. I was able to do this when I did the Bikini Series so when it works, stick to it, right?

Organize: I really,  really REALLY want to clean all of the photos an videos out of my phone but I know this will take like an entire day to tackle. I also know that I will probably just download it all to my external hard drive and upgrade my phone. That is usually the only way I can get rid of photos and video, to get a new phone. What can I say, I'm a memory junkie.

Self Care: I also decided to do some things for my skin. Creeping closer to 35 this new year, I need all the collagen help I can get. Ha ha. Drinking the correct amount of water that I need to each day helps a lot. And taking collagen daily does as well.
A few months ago I started getting Hydrafacials with glycolic boosters. And also started dermaplaning. I love these facials! They are amazing to get before a big event. This month I am going to start some microneedling and maybe a IPL session or two. I found an awesome MedSpa here in San Antonio and would like to use them as I can while I'm here. I will give you some updates on my IPL, Microneedling and anything else I try. AND, I just started the KOR teeth whitening treatment through my cosmetic dentist's office. I will do a post on self care and all of the things that I've tried. ALSO, it is in the making to do a post about products that I use that actually work.

The last thing that I want to do is to clear my mind and soul. I realize that I organize and declutter every area of my life but always fail to attend to the most important part, my soul. So there will be less time on Social Media and more time focusing on what's in front of me. There will be less overbooking my calendar and more meditation (which I've never been good at, so we'll see how that goes). Less Facebook and more reading or writing. Less noise, more focus.

2018 was a year of adventure. I contemplated posting a round up of the best moments of 2018, but decided that they are all here in the blog anyhow, so there's no need. I did recap them on Instagram: @itslaurenrebecca
With 2018 being a year of "adventure", I'd have to say that 2019 is going to be more a year of "focus". While I still love travel and seeing new things, sometimes things need to take a back seat for more important things. And this year we really need to make some BIG decisions and focus on where we want to be, getting there and prepping for the future. (more to come on that...)

I have 2 new posts I'm finishing up this week. Our Christmas in New York, which has a ton of fun photos and also our Trip to Siesta Keys. 

Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Back Home.

We traveled back to my home town the weekend after Thanksgiving and what a time warp it was.  The entire trip really made me reminisce about so many happy and good memories. Everything was the same and so much had changed all at the same time. I was raised here on this piece of land in the middle of Massachusetts. This little podunk town, that no has ever heard of, would easily be missed if you blink. And yet it's where half of my life has been spent and so many, many memories were born.
It was here that my dad bought me my first horse. A beautiful horse of 16 hands that I named Francefino. This horse who ran faster than any quarter horse I'd ever met, was my best friend through some hard times. It was here that I drove golf carts and buggies around our land, carting friends and laughing the entire time. It was on this seemingly futile land that I set up a VHS Camcorder with music playing from a large boombox behind me,  filming my first video debut. Back then, there were no limits and I was going to produce and direct movies. I was going to leave this tiny town behind and make things that made people smile....and cry and laugh and want to see more of. It was here that I raised 12 baby chickens after watching Fly Away Home and raised them to follow me around as if I really was Anna Paquin. It was here that I dreamt of what life would offer me.

I could go on and on with the memories. But they are gone now. Just little bits of life that I couldn't dare forget. Memories jotted down here in this little blog of mine. And despite how miniscule they were, they built who I am.  We lose that magic that lives inside of us, don't we? We outgrow it when we learn how cruel and raw the world really is. So many times I wish I could go back to the days when anything was possible. Or to just have a little bit of that mindset still living in me. How many great things we would do if we did.

Bringing my kids back here was really wonderful. I wish that we could visit more often. They had a blast!! First it was treasures in the attic. I was SHOCKED to find all of our toys still there in the boxes. The entire playroom that my sister and I had set up to be a school room was still there. 25 years later it was a bit dusty but the maps that I taped up on the wall stood there looking back at me, reminding me of all the greatness that happened back then. The art work that we had done and posted on the wall were in the exact same places. Such silence surrounded me and yet so many thoughts and memories flooded me. I could hear my sister directing her what class would consist of that day. A time warp. I cannot find the words to tell you what it felt like. It's very eye opening. It makes you think about things a little differently than you did just a few moments before. A little bit of that magic began to light up inside of me and I remembered all of the possibilities that seemed to come so easily back then.
The kids opened the boxes and squealed in delight over the treasures that they found. Scarlett found my sister and my Polly Pockets. There was one that had an ink pad inside of it. It STILL worked!

It was also so grand to watch Maxwell play trucks with my father. My dear dad who is a little bit softer looking than he used to be. He laid on the floor to help the pains that irk him when he stays in one place too long. But just the same he found a way to get down there and play Tonka Trucks with him. I imagine that my father looked a lot like Maxwell as a boy. And my father will tell you that he did indeed. Just as my father does, Maxwell has a fascination for trucks, construction vehicles and anything with wheels. We took a walk out back to see Grandpa's tractors and trucks. This too, was a walk down memory lane. I found my very first truck that my ex bought me years ago. An old red Ford that he bought for no more than $1000 bucks. The truck was a stick shift and I can't count how many times the thing died on me that one summer. But I still LOVE those memories of driving down near the beach, music playing and my old crank windows rolled down. Those musky cloth seats just as comfortable as could be.
The kids were amazed by my dad's Skidder and sure enough, my dad climbed right up there to start it up and show them. No aches or pains were going to stop him from that! Scarlett drove around with him. Then Maxwell took a ride with him on the small tractor as they pulled Scarlett around behind. Those big, old chains clunking against the ground as the wheels turned- they were an all too familiar sound of my childhood. I may or may not have taken a hundred photos this day. It was just too good. I pointed out landmarks as we walked around. "Scarlett, this is where my chicken coop was. And over here is where my horse would graze. Here is where we would ride the golf cart down to the woods and have camping trips. Look over here!!! This is Grandpa's old 69 Bonneville that he used to let me drive down dirt roads way before it was legal to do so!" 

Later on, Scarlett found a hole in a stuffed bunny and my step-mother got out her sewing kit to show her how it could easily be fixed. Scarlett has not stopped talking about getting a sewing kit since. We went out to a small pizza and grinder spot in town for lunch. The one thing I was SO excited for was to eat an actual grinder!! For those of you who are saying, "What in the heck is a grinder?" It is basically a sub, but just a little bit SO MUCH better when made in Massachusetts. We went back to the house and looked through old photo albums and the kids had way too much fun cracking nuts open with the old-fashioned nut cracker sitting on my dad's coffee table. My dad's loud and comical laugh was comforting. Stories were told and the kids had plenty of questions.

Sometimes you need to go back to remember where you came from. You have to return to your roots to see the big picture. It's funny to me. We lived in the same state my entire life. I thought I would live there my whole life. I've now lived in 4 different states and am currently living across the country from where I began. I think that it is intriguing and important to see new things and how differently people live in areas unlike our own. I also think that once in's just good to go home again.