Sunshine and Wow

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Thanks to Maui Jim for sponsoring this memory… (giveaway below)

The older I get, the more I appreciate moments of intention. Perhaps it stems from being in the middle of a particularly frenzied season – an active baby weaving underfoot as I navigate the workload of an entrepreneur while attempting to carve out a life that reflects the creative spirit our family seeks. As a result, my holiday wish lists doesn’t consist of things, but of events. There isn’t a price tag or retailer in sight, and instead, it’s riddled with hopes of laughter and warmth and sunshine.

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Two weeks ago, we headed to the west coast – our former hometown of Los Angeles – to get away. I had a work commitment at Disneyland, and although it was tempting to fly out for the day and return home on a red-eye to get back to work/routine, Ken and I decided to celebrate the holiday season early with the friends we love. We hopped a few planes with Bee and threw ourselves into a whirlwind of intention – eating cronuts on the beach, roasting marshmallows in backyard fire pits, sipping coffee al fresco while the little ones made mudpies and mayhem at our feet.

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It was everything we needed. It was change and exhilaration and spontaneity and all of that highly-celebrated carpe diemness. And it was hard. Traveling with babies is never easy, leading a parade through airports and highways and hotels of bottles-blankets-diapers-car seats-strollers-travel cribs and all things bulky and heavy, amen. But it’s the good kind of hard. It’s the kind of hard where you sleep better at night, exhausted from carrying the weight of the day, but the promise of adventure. The kind that makes you crave the return of the everyday – the mundane of your surroundings. The kind that makes you endlessly grateful for the life you’re leading, the life you’re creating.

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California was just one of many holiday gifts Ken and I are giving each other this year. High on our wish list are many things: grace and time and relaxation and comfort, gratitude and creativity and patience. But the sunny days of the west coast? It was the perfect marker to jumpstart this season of gift-giving.

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Maui Jim has a fun campaign at the moment, Share the Wow. It’s about gift-giving and people and moments and friends and the realization that Wow exists in the everyday – if we’re looking for it. And this season, I’m looking. Because, as it turns out, there is Wow in cronuts and campfires and California. There is Wow in daughters and dads and Disneyland. There is Wow in waves and waffles and wonder. There is Wow in reunions and rental cars and radiant mornings.

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There is Wow all around us, but sometimes, it can only be illuminated by a week’s worth of sunshine.

Image Credits: My dear husband

p.s. Want to win your own sunnies? Share the best holiday gift you’ve ever received in the comment section below and I’ll gift one lucky winner a pair of your own Wow-inducing shades. Happy early holidays, friends!

  • Happy early holidays! Love the reminders of Wow.

    My favorite holiday gift was a waist-high wire Eiffel Tower sculpture from my sisters. When they gave it to me, they said, “We saw this in the catalog and hated it, but we knew you’d love it.” They were right. I had seen it myself and love love loved it – and I felt loved and seen and appreciated.

  • Favorite sentence of all-time: “…as it turns out, there is Wow in cronuts and campfires and California.” Yes to all of that and cheers for spreading the love of everyday moments/experiences!

  • Best gift? They all blur as things as I think about it now. Best gift I gave was when Matt and I told our parents, Christmas 2011, that we were having a baby. That was truly the best.

  • My favorite gift I’ve ever recieved was my great grandmothers piano. I started taking lessons when I was young and I only had a keyboard to practice on. My parents drove to Missouri from Texas to pick up the piano. It was the best surprise of my life, and I was so gracious to have a real piano to play!

  • Happy holidays! :) Love this post – totally agree and love the idea behind Share the Wow!
    I would say my favorite holiday gift was from two Christmas’ ago. My husband bought me a beautiful little necklace – and little did he (or I) know that the necklace had the birthstone of our baby girl :) (We didn’t even know we were pregnant yet – so weird how things happen!)

  • So far this year, it has been going from a party of 3 for Thanksgiving to a party of 8. I’m really looking forward to a bit of a larger gathering for my favorite holiday/meal.

  • The best present I ever received was this past Christmas. We were finally home with our newborn after a year of moving in together, being pregnant (successfully, after 2 back-to-back losses), getting married when I was 6 months pregnant, getting my teenage son situated into his first year of high school in a new school district, and figuring out how to fit it all together in 12 short months! Sitting around the table with both sides of the family in our first house together I knew that we had overcome it all and made it work for us. There have been plenty of adventures this year with the baby needing cranial surgery and my husband changing jobs, but that sense of accomplishment the first time we had 5 minutes to breath makes anything thrown at us seem easily overcome.

    • Oh that is such a beautiful memory, Jennifer – and I’m so happy to hear you’re overcoming! Bless you. :)

  • Wow, great giveaway. Best gift ever was definitely my yellow and blue BMX bike I got as a 7 year old. :)

  • I was about 10 and I came downstairs to brand new skis leaning against the fireplace. The shock of a lifetime!

  • As materialistic as this will sound, trust me I’d rather the handmade kind of gift… last Christmas my daughter and husband totally surprised me with a Louis Vuitton handbag and you could have knocked me over with a feather. When I saw the box I thought, ‘you’re kidding me.’ See my family has been known to gift me odd things in very enticing boxes… Belleck, etc… so when I saw this I thought, ‘you’re kidding me… what did you put in the box THIS time?’ Lo and behold it was a real LV handbag and I was so excited and surprised!

  • Holidays took on new meaning when in 1997 I made it back to the states it the second week of Dec.(had no idea I’d be in Ukraine for 2mths) with our new son. History repeated itself in 1998 when I barely made it back a week before Christmas with our second son. Then in 2008 we received a call about a special needs little girl in south Florida. We picked her up right before thanksgiving. So our Best holiday gifts ever are our children.

  • My brother who was like my Daddy sent me a bunny from wherever he was stationed in the Navy. I missed him so very much that year. I was only eight at he time. He died when I was eleven. I will never forget that beautiful, soft white bunny.

  • My best Christmas gift ever was my second son, Lucas. He was due on Christmas almost 2 years ago. We had my husbands immediate family staying with us for Christmas and I went to sleep that night w/contractons about 8 min apart. When I woke up in the morning on the 26th and we were 5 min apart. Later that day Lucas joined us and we were blessed to have all of our immediate family members be there to welcome him I to the world.

    My favorite memory is a new tradition we started. We take all the kids and head to Arlington National Ceremony for the wreath laying as part of Wreaths across America. Being a military best it’s very close to my heart and taking the kids there every year, I hoping, will be a great way to instill a sense of honor in and partiotism in my two boys. Amazing, Breathtaking, Moving. Favorite memories ever.

  • one of the best Christmas gifts I ever received I hated at the time… i was 11 or 12, and my grandparents gave me luggage. ugh. but since then, and starting soon after that Christmas, that luggage has accompanied me on adventures all around the world, and every time I pull it out of the closet i think about all the amazing places we’ve been. so, a seemingly rotten gift at the time, but now something I truly cherish and can’t bear to replace.

    • Ha, I think the same thing when I see the luggage I was gifted on Christmas in high school! I love your perspective. :)

  • Best gift was the year my husband and I adopted a pair of kitty cats as our gifts to each other, even though they promptly knocked over our Christmas tree once they were comfortable in our house!!

  • I hear you on all of this! No presents for me and John this year, except tickets to the beach is under our tree! (YAY for sun and family time!) So glad you guys got out and traveled!

  • The best gift I ever received? Well this is going to sound a bit sappy but my son didn’t speak on time, he was speech delayed, finally at 2.5 years during the holiday season he started speaking, he found his voice. So I have always said his voice was the best gift I ever received as a parent. I have a sentimental scrapbook page of him that I put together for him that says “No more Silent Nights” in to tie in the holiday season when he found his voice and the gift it was. Thank you for the chance to win. :)

  • As a full blown caffeine addict, the best Christmas gift I’ve received was a espresso machine — love that thing!

  • My mom (who is amiably divorced from my dad) took her wedding band and engagement ring, had her birthstone set into each, and gave them to my sister and I. It was a sweet gift that reminds me of my mom and of my parents love as well.

  • Looks like you enjoyed my state in every way possible. I often forget how amazing our weather is compared to the rest of the country. And nothing is cuter than a baby with a huge sun hat!

  • My husband has never been a fan of wearing a wedding band and he knows that I wish he would. One of his excuses was that he didn’t want to damage his “fancy” band, so one year for Christmas, he bought himself a plain, gold band, wrapped the box up and give it to me. It sounds funny that he bought jewelry for himself and gave it to me, but it was the most thoughtful thing he’s ever done (and truly it was for me). It was so sweet, it made me ugly cry in my jammies on Christmas morning.

  • Best gift ever was a clay “Duck” that my daughter made for me when she was in elementary school. She was so excited to give me what she had made. However, somewhere between her shaping the and painting the project in the classroom and her bringing it home in her backpack, the Duck got a bit smashed. Undefeated, she still wrapped it with pride and couldn’t wait to give it to me on Christmas Day. When I opened it, having no idea what it was supposed to have been, I enthusiastically thanked her for her beautiful artwork and asked what she would call her project. To which she responded “Roadkill.” She’s off to college now but whenever I look at her artwork, I still laugh till it hurts!

  • A couple of years back, my grandmother (who ALWAYS hosted Xmas Eve) was hospitalized right before Christmas. At the time, I was so sad to celebrate without her and then visit with her in the hospital. Unfortunately she passed 2 months later, but living so far away from my family, I was glad we all were able spend time with her.

    • Ah, it’s funny how life works that way – I’m so sad to hear of your loss, but happy you were able to visit with her in those moments.

  • There are so many gifts in life but the ones that count the most for me are the moments when I realize something that I and my husband have long desired is now going to happen. We have been wanting to visit our friends in Japan for over ten years but never had the opportunity to do this while living in America. A couple years ago my husband and I decided to move closer to his family who live in France. He found work in Switzerland and now we are gifted with more vacation time. Finally I can bring my five year old son, my soon to be one year old daughter and my wonderful husband who made it all possible on this long awaited trip to Japan. One of the reasons I bring my children with me is so they become exposed to other cultures and other parts of the world and truthfully as hard as it may be to travel with children there is nothing more rewarding then the smiles on their faces when they spend the day wondering around or playing in some new country. I love to watch my very gregarious son make friends with body language. Besides I want my friends to meet the little ones and I want my children to meet our friends.

  • There are so many gifts in life but the ones that count the most for me are the moments when I realize something that I and my husband have long desired is now going to happen. We have been wanting to visit our friends in Japan for over ten years but never had the opportunity to do this while living in America. A couple years ago my husband and I decided to move closer to his family who live in France. He found work in Switzerland and now we are gifted with more vacation time. Finally I can bring my five year old son, my soon to be one year old daughter and my wonderful husband who made it all possible on this long awaited trip to Japan. One of the reasons I bring my children with me is so they become exposed to other cultures and other parts of the world and truthfully as hard as it may be to travel with children there is nothing more rewarding then the smiles on their faces when they spend the day wondering around or playing in some new country. I love to watch my very gregarious son make friends with body language. Besides I want my friends to meet the little ones and I want my children to meet our friends.

  • A trip through the desert with my family. There were no gifts only fresh guacamole and time spent together. It was a great change if place for a family from New England and a great memory of Christmas together.

  • A trip through the desert with my family. There were no gifts, only fresh guacamole and time spent together. This was a huge change of place for a family from New England, but a wonderful memory if Christmas together.

  • My favorite holiday gift was just last year. My father in law, who had been in remission from leukemia, was sent to the emergency room after showing symptoms of an infection on Christmas Eve. By the time we left the hospital that night, he was totally out of it and didn’t recognize any of us. We prepared ourselves for a tough Christmas morning and when we arrived at the hospital…he was sitting up in bed, smiling and waiting to wish us a Merry Christmas. He passed away about a month later but that morning will forever be a warm memory that seemed nothing short of a miracle and gift.

  • Best holiday gift was the first one my husband ever gave me. An axe and a bunch of yell

  • One Christmas, when I was 7, I got a pony. every christmas gift has been a let down since. :)

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