That’s How the Light Gets In

Let the games begin, shall we?

I tried to tell myself I wouldn’t post too much holiday content before Black Friday, and to be honest, I haven’t. I know you’re thinking, “YES YOU HAVE, LIAR!” To be fair, though, that was sponsored content. I haven’t posted holiday content all on my own yet. That changes today. It needs to change today. The thing is, I’ve been bad at catching feels. All the world and the personal news filter in and out of my ears and my brain and my heart, and my processing skills aren’t always up to par. The hardest thing in the world we can do is to let people in and out of our hearts. I don’t think I’m that good at it.

And yet it happens despite my best efforts.

I’d love to tell you I’ve learned a thing or two about feeling, but the truth is that sometimes I feel too much. Or what I consider too much. Then it gets filtered into different places. It breaks into pieces, like glass shards. It seems to disappear.

Whenever I feel next to nothing, it’s only because I feel a lot.

I haven’t fully felt that Christmas spirit yet, but I’m about 75% there. And that’s probably 74% more than I felt last year so I’m rejoicing. Maybe you know the one I mean. It’s when a smell or a song or a Christmas light or a memory or a movie hits you so hard in the heart, that you could swear it’s snowing only on you and for you, the way it does when a new romantic couple kisses at the end of a Hallmark holiday movie. It can only be magic! Three years ago was the first time in my life that I spent an entire holiday season without getting hit by that feeling. Then it happened again last year. Not this time, I say.

Not on my watch.

I’m coaxing it out slowly and steadily. It’s already taken my breath away nearly full-force. We’ll be decorating this week and I have a lot of posts coming up. For now, here’s something fun. A few years ago, Dana from Kiss My List asked me holiday questions. It’s fun to bring them back and maybe inspire you to answer some yourself. On this blog or on your own or both!

1. First, finish this sentence: When I’m really old, I hope to look back on my life and know that I…

Well, that’s loaded! When my grandmother died earlier this year, I had an existential crisis about it. I felt so sad that someone who lived 100 years, without cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, & someone who lived life on her own terms and lived BIG still died. She just died. It wasn’t a movie death. It was quiet and heart-shattering. For her 100th birthday, one of the biggest realizations I had is that I want to live big, but in a different way than I thought when I was younger. I used to think it was all about glitz, glamour & money, but now I think that living big is living with big HEART, and living freely and getting out of the boxes that this world will try to shut you in. That’s it. I want to live on my own terms and with big HEART.

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2. What is your earliest holiday memory?

I can remember lighting Hanukkah candles, or maybe even unwrapping Christmas presents (both?) in my old house – my first house. We lived there until I was five, and it was in Rockaway, NJ on a hill. You could see the Twin Towers from my street.

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3. Tell me about a holiday tradition you remember from your childhood. Do you keep that tradition with Cassidy and the kids, or have you created a new one?

We haven’t created a new Christmas morning yet. We still do it with my parents and as many siblings as possible. We talk about it changing with the five of us kids all grown up and starting families, but the thought is too heart-breaking for me. As it’s always been and now, we all have a gigantic Christmas morning together. We were always allowed to open the stockings at 7:00am Then we all sit in a circle and open our presents, one at a time. Then we have a huge breakfast and a flank steak/homemade french fries dinner. Although in recent years, it’s gotten so time-consuming, that we have to break halfway through opening gifts to eat breakfast. Then we dive back in. It takes HOURS. It’s fantastic.

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4. Yes or no:

a. Eggnog – NO! Well, maybe. I haven’t had it in years. I don’t remember liking it, though.
b. Candy canes – Meh. Only if they’re fruit-flavored, and then still, I’d rather just eat fruit.
c. Fruit cake – I have never tried it! I imagine NO, though.
d. Latkes – Heck yeah! When well made, they’re exquisite. And your jacket will smell like oil for a week.

5. I know you like to watch holiday specials and movies. Tell me a few of your favorites: classics and new, cartoon and human. If you had to have one playing over and over for 24 hours straight, which would it be?

Hmm…! I tend not to like watching movies more than once. I suppose background noise is ok. I do love It’s a Wonderful Life, Love Actually and The Family Man. I think my favorite and the one to play for 24 hours straight is Scrooged.

6. I’m only asking this because your kids don’t read your blog. Do you remember when you found out the truth about Santa? Share if it’s not too traumatic.

Yes, and it’s funny because I was in the Hebrew School parking lot! I was about ten or 11 and I don’t remember it being traumatic – just honest. It’s about the spirit of the holiday anyway. It’s real and it’s spectacular.

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7. Describe what your Christmas day will look like this year. Assume you are not snowed in!

It will hopefully look a lot like what I described in question #3! I guess I got ahead of myself.

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8. Was there a gift that you REALLY wanted as a child that you didn’t get? How did you handle it? James has jokingly asked for an ATV; is Scarlet asking for something over the top?

Scarlet’s requests are all doable so far. I can’t remember anything specific that I repeatedly wanted and didn’t get. I’m certain I wanted a trip somewhere to meet Tim Curry, and why didn’t I get that one??? (Problem solved August 2017)

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9. How do I take a decent photo of a fully lit menorah or Christmas tree?

Ha! Well what are you using? I think a phone camera takes a nice one. With a dSLR, use a tripod! If you don’t have one, you can create a makeshift one by just using a table or whatnot. Use manual settings – a wide aperture but enough to get in the whole tree or menorah (read: not 1.4). Smaller numbers are better because of more light, but of course, not too much. That shouldn’t be a problem because you’re probably in a low light scenario with the tree, at least. I like a shutter speed of 250 or so to prevent hand shake blur, but hey, if you are using a tripod or a makeshift one, that shouldn’t be as big of a problem.

Am I confusing you enough yet? It really depends on so many factors..

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10. My last question is always a “Would You Rather?” So, would you rather have a nose that glows like Rudolph or pointy ears like an elf?

ha! Definitely pointy ears. Have you seen my hair? It’s thick and it covers my ears, hence why I never wear earrings. I don’t really love my nose (or even like it) so I wouldn’t want to draw more attention to it.

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Has it hit you yet?

And I STILL Haven’t Met One of My Closest Friends

Let’s get personal again, shall we?

So.. I’m a weird friendship person. I’m a weird heart person! I sometimes feel so much that the emotions are unfathomable. You literally can’t move on, go on, live on like that. So I stifle them and shuffle them and push them deep inside, and then they leak out in the strangest ways. I’m a weird emotions person. I’ve been spending years cracking the code on getting closer to.. well.. ME. The thing is, once I did/do that, then I can get closer to others. Friendship is that weird bird for me. You don’t choose your family, although you choose your friends who become family. Romance is.. well.. romance. It’s bizarre and everlasting and unlasting and totally in a world all its own. Friendship, though. Well, that’s my great mystery.

Sometimes you’re friends with people for convenience or location, geography, timing. They go in and out of your life. Sometimes, they last forever. Sometimes you’re friends with someone but one of you has feelings for the other and whether that’s the basis or a symptom or a cause, those don’t last very long either. It’s so different now that I’m an adult and a parent. The friendships, man. They’ve been some of the best. I’m still awkward, though! I’m still scared to make those first or second moves. I can’t sustain friendship the way my heart wants to sustain friendships. I might feel left out, or leave someone out, but it’s not intentional or even logical. I think the problem is, if not often, sometimes mine to have.

Every now and then, though, I meet someone and there aren’t complexities. The underlying love is rather simple and that makes it easier to reach out and take hold. It happens enough to sustain my friendship heart. Sometimes, people get me. Sometimes, I get people. There comes that familiar ache – when you deeply care about someone and want them around. You hear that click and everything falls into place. Only, this one time it happened with someone online. And I STILL haven’t met her, but I feel the same – and stronger! We have about 3,000 things in common and that list grows every day, for years now.

The first time we ever talked on the phone, I was in a crisis and I thought of her, and two hours later, we got off the phone and I completely forgot why I had called her to begin with. The stress melted away easily. I can talk about her for 17 blog posts, but you can just read her blog and get to know her. Janine is my online soulmate and one day we’ll meet for real!


A few years ago, Janine and I interviewed each other for Ask Away Friday. It was special! I found the old transcript (it wasn’t hard) and decided to put it back here because it fascinates me. And this fits in with the Finish the Sentence Friday theme!

To see Janine’s answers to my ten questions, go HERE. And here are my answers to her lovely questions:

1. This week we both got the brand new iPhone 6. I know that we were both more then excited and would love to hear what your favorite new feature on this phone is?

With going from the 4S to the 6, with no dabbling at all with the 5 (other than using Cassidy’s once), the camera upgrade is awesome! The first photo I took with the new phone was at night in a dark room. My 4S would have taken a blob of nothing.

This was the first photo:

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Here’s the second from the next day in daylight:

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I LOVE the slow-motion video and the time-lapse video options: (Des whining “Mama” in slow motion)

This next video isn’t the best technically, but it might be the most joyous video I’ve ever seen. This is Des eagerly waiting a piece of chocolate birthday cake. Can you remember the last time you were SO excited, that you just couldn’t handle it?

2. An extension to question one, Apple touted this camera during the original press release feed (yes I was that crazy and watched the live feed while working the day it happened). As a professional photographer, have you used the new camera yet and what do you think of it compared to some of the heavy hitters out there, such as Canon/Nikon DLSRs (is there any comparison even)?

The Verizon sales guy said to me, “This is the only camera you will ever need. Didn’t you say you’re a photographer?” I giggled. I half agree, though. If you don’t have a great camera or if you have an old point-and-shoot, this might be better! Even if you do have a great camera, there are just situations in life that call for the iPhone. When I go to fairs and I don’t want to carry the big one and I can easily upload and share the photos/videos? Awesome! It’s personally nice to have both. For clients, of course I use my Canon. Creamy, dreamy, bokeh, catchlights, and most of all – CONTROL.

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3. Since we both love summer and are not winter fans, but still seem to enjoy fall (yes it is definitely here), what is on your fall bucket list for this year?

I love fall! I only like spring better, because it means summer and then fall. Poor fall, leading to winter. Anyway, it’s glorious here. I definitely want to do the Frozen-themed corn maze, link HERE. I’d love to go on a foliage drive up to northern New England. October is the best month here, and that’s when my sister is getting married, so we might not do everything I want to do, but we’ll come close. I want to visit the Florence Griswold Museum to see the Wee Faerie Village Alice in Wonderland exhibit. I’d love to book fall foliage clients, although I already have quite a few set up, and weekends will run out fast.

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4. We both had a shared obsession for Robin Thicke’s song (Blurred Lines), but that was so last year. What would be your favorite song for 2014? I need a new song addiction and would love to share with you in new found music collaboration of sorts.

I was going to reply with… “Obviously, it’s Safe and Sound” but I just found out that song isn’t 2014! Like.. at all. So…I think it’s “Promise” by Tori Amos. It’s not at all pop.. as far as I know, though:

5. When I do finally someday in the future get to visit you, what would we do?

When is this happening??? I think if it’s fall, we’ll definitely do the Frozen corn maze in Vermont! And check out the beautiful New England fall foliage. Of course, I’ll bring you to my favorite cookie store, because it is just so talked about on my blog and on Facebook. If you bring the girls, I’ll have to do a photo shoot. And let them play with Scarlet’s princess stuff endlessly. I’ll have to show you this small and proud city’s wonderful downtown, and I’ll buy you a hot drink of your choice. And of course we’d talk for hours! Cassidy would make something great for dinner.

6. What do you think you would be thinking the first time we do actually meet for real?

At this point I’ve met a lot of blogging friends and with pretty much each one, it was like this: “Oh yeah. It’s you. I’ve.. known you for five years, it feels like!” There was.. no adjustment period. I showed up on Michelle’s doorstep and then met Ilene and Stephanie like it was nothing. I spotted Bev across a park and Jennifer across a parking lot while I was driving with my window open and we just instantly knew each other. I had a magical meeting with Tricia across a grassy hill and with Iva and Kristi in the dorm “lobby” of BlogU. Not to mention sitting next to Katie during a wonderful class. And Allie in a trampoline park! Sometimes I get really nervous, though! I’d either be really nervous or totally calm and I’d just.. know you.

That’s what I’d be thinking. That’s what I’ve been thinking all along.

Edited to add that I walked into Dana and Lisa’s dorm room like we were old college buddies!

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7. Ok, even though we haven’t met in person, I read your blog with ever new post, I talk to you sometimes through text multiple times a week (sometimes even daily) and yet there has to be something I don’t know about you. Can you share something about yourself that I don’t already know about you?

When I was a kid, I got something stuck up my nose and had to have it removed by a doctor.. after.. weeks.. or months. Of my three pets, I’m in love with Athena, I’m in love with Dinah, but I don’t care much for Bella. Like.. if she got a new loving home, I’d be ok. I keep her around for Scarlet’s sake but she has a terrible personality. Does that make me sound mean?

8. I know we both have had our recent moments with dealing with the mere thoughts of our kids no longer being babies anymore. In this vain, what are your hopes, fears and dreams as kids grow up.

I’m hope they’re always as happy as they are now. They are.. so happy. Right now, Des is dancing and singing and Scarlet is laughing, despite having a fever. She’s also eating raspberries and cookies, so I’m thinking the fever went down. I want them to not feel trapped in life. I want them to see the world, do what they love, and most of all – be kind and strong.

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9. How has Scarlet’s first month of Kindergarten been for her? For you?

It’s been wonderful for her. When you ask her how her day at school was, every day, she says “GREAT!” She loves music class best, and also Physical Education. She calls it “Physical Therapy” and I don’t correct her because it’s adorable as heck. She has a lovely class – of both boys and girls. I’ve gotten to know many of them. Her teacher told me she was delightful. We also stay after school a lot on the playground, while the weather still holds up, and it’s such a nice community of other school parents. As for me, I’m getting there. I still have traces of PTSD nearly every day before I pick her up. I just feel.. heart-poundy. Stomach-butterfly-like. It’s strange. I’m working through it. What else can I do? We learn. We learn together.

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10. I have one last year of pre-school with Lily and believe you have two with Des. I still am not sure how I will be with Lily starting compared to how I reacted with Emma starting Kindergarten this past fall. How do you think you will be with Des when he starts Kindergarten?

I remember a few years ago when my friends’ kids were starting kindergarten, that I felt a little smug. I felt like I still had so much time before I had to worry about it. And I did, to an extent. I guess I feel that way now. I still have three years with this wonderful boy, before worrying about full school days. I think Scarlet is hand-holding me along the way. Some people say it’s harder with the first. Others say it’s harder with the youngest. I can’t imagine it will be, to be honest. And if it is, can’t I just have another baby and prolong the inevitable? Yes. Yes, I can.

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This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “Online relationships remind people of their social experiences in high school…” Come link up with your spin on the matter: HERE.

What would you say?