Sunrise in the Vineyard.

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We trekked out to California a few weeks ago to celebrate the wedding of one of my dearest, oldest friends! Along the way, Stevie and I planned to see/do a few special things and take advantage of one final trip before our baby boy arrives (so soon now!) We woke up early one morning in Paso Robles and decided to watch the sun rise over the vineyards. Because when you’re on East Coast time and nothing can keep you asleep, then you chase that sun rise! We grabbed coffee at our hotel oh so early, hopped into our rental car and drove out toward the tiny bit of light that was beginning to illuminate the wine country of Paso - it is SUCH a stunning place and home to dozens (maybe even hundreds?) of new wineries over the past 20 years or so (move over, Napa!) We found a beautiful vista and drove up into it, though knowing that we didn’t want to trespass on land that, A) wasn’t ours and B) wasn’t necessarily open to the public (remember, it was the crack of dawn!) Someone was working at the entrance of this particular vineyard (I don’t even remember the name!), and after he and Stevie exchanged a few Spanish words, we had permission, and we journeyed up, up, up!

Made it just in time. The sun crested over the hills and saturated the vinyards with every shade of the palest yellow, then marigold, then brilliant burning red. It was a sight to behold, something I will never forget.

I’m doing my best to take stock in these kinds of moments, especially as I near the end of this pregnancy and I feel such a strong shift of seasons coming my way. I know what a new baby entails - long nights, blurry days, a year passes in an instant. I’m anticipating what I know is coming, along with all the unexpected that will most certainly come along with his arrival! I can’t wait to get to know another baby boy of mine… my two boys are so different and such incredible people, who have changed me and taught me so much. I can’t wait to see what little man #3 has in store for our family. I truly feel overwhelmed with gratitude.

I have a few other things to share about this trip, including our drive up the 1 and some time in Big Sur and Carmel, so I will post those things this week while they are still fresh on my mind :) Also, a little IGTV film if you’re into it!


The 4th Day: Holiday Survival Guide

Holiday Survival Guide

Holiday Survival Guide by oykristen // 1. Comfy Clothes // 2. Google Drive // 3. Trifecta of Beverages // 4. Sleep 5. Crossing something off "The Long List" // 6. GET OFF PINTEREST //

Holiday Survival Guide.

Oh Monday. Why hello to you.

It's a terrible thing, but this is usually the "crunch" time of the holiday season where it sets in: the intense stress. It's the Monday before Christmas. I have the 4th day (and later, the 3rd day) of Christmas posts for you today. And I'm have flashbacks to the scenes of frantic, anxiety-laden Whoville shoppers in Jim Carry's version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". How will we ever get it all done. How how how. Is that question playing a little dance in your mind today? I bet it started late last night... Sunday nights tend to bring on the worries of the week. 

I've been thinking a lot about how to combat stress, how to enjoy the season, and how to not be consumed by, well, all the consumption. It's a challenge. But there are a few things that have helped me over the past few weeks, and I wanted to share them with you in case they're helpful in this last stretch before Christmas arrives.

1. Comfy Clothes.

All day every day. If you're going to get a LOT accomplished in a little time, it's time to strap on your sneakers and approach the day with the mind of an athlete. This is going to take some strength and endurance, might as well dress the part. And if you're like me, you will be wrangling some kind of baby while you're attempting to pick up last minute gifts, wrap presents, whip something up in the kitchen, all while trying to remember if you have actually brushed your teeth yet today. You don't need to do any of these things in style. You need to do them in comfort.

2. Google Drive.

This has been my saving grace over the past several years during the holiday season. This is where I keep a list of everything I've purchased and everything I still have yet to purchase for my loved ones. I keep a running total of every purchase (tape, wrapping paper, photos, Christmas card expenses, and yes, of course the gifts) so that I can stay on budget, and therefore, less stressed. Also, when my husband asks me (practically every other day) how we are doing on our budget, I can answer him with precision. It's less stressful to know exactly where I am measuring up on my budget so that I'm not shopping in the dark, so to speak. Aaaaaaand it's really awesome to be able to access this tool from my computer & phone, and share these documents with my hubby so that we're on the same page. I just have to remind myself to make a separate tab with his surprises listed (so that he can't see what I have in store for him on Christmas morning!)

3. Trifecta of Beverages.

My drinking method? I only drink three things in any given day. Water, coffee, and sometimes a glass of wine at night. Staying hydrated with H2O is a surefire way to keeping up energy throughout the day. The coffee is an obvious booster (unfortunately, the tribe of nursing mothers that I'm a part of can only caffeinate to a certain extent), and then if you really need to unwind and relax after that baby is (hopefully!) sound asleep - then imbibing in a glass of wine is a happy little reward.

4. Zzzz.

Listen to me, all of you blessed ones without newborns: get all the sleep you can!!! It's the best way to recharge so that your brain actually works when you need it to during the waking hours of the day. Getting good sleep is the best way to power through. And for those of you with newborns (like me), good luck. The challenge is a bit greater for us, simply because, we are missing out on a fundamental building block of our day - proper rest. Napping helps. But I won't encourage you to nap, because if one more person tells me that's what I should be doing, I might have to slap them. NAPPING ISN'T POSSIBLE RIGHT NOW. So stop telling me to do it. Maybe after the New Year.

5. Cross something off your list. Now do it again.

I know the list keeps lengthening. I know I know. But seriously, you've got to be able to make cuts in your to-do list. That extra baked good that you wanted to have for Christmas Eve? You don't need it. Don't spend your time on it. That extra party you got a last-minute invite to that you thought you'd "just stop by" for? You shouldn't go. All the excessive to-do's in the outlier margins of your mind - just say no. This is part of learning how to have self-control & guarding your time wisely so that you can offer the best of yourself to the most important people in your life. Also, it feels really good to just cross those unnecessary things off your list.

6. GET OFF PINTEREST.

It's time to stop looking and idea-gathering. That time has ended. Stop looking at pictures of cute ways to wrap gifts, interesting new recipes to bake, and glittery outfit combinations. You ain't got time to fill your mind with more ideas. You have enough ideas. This week is time for executing what's already in your heart to do. So it's time to stop browsing Pinterest. Along with this is a call to ignore all the incoming emails from retailers trying to squeeze another dollar out of you. They don't have another special gift that you should buy. THAT EMAIL IS A HOAX. They want your money. They don't want to give you the Christmas spirit. You already have the Christmas spirit. These emails and those Pinterest searches will only make you think you need more of what you already have.

These next few days? They're for savoring. For laughing. For watching Christmas movies and joyfully wrapping gifts. Not frantically wrapping gifts, joyfully. And getting the last few things done that really matter to you. Enjoy the next few days leading up to Christmas!