Now

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It’s a Christmas party at my house, and my husband is putting our daughter to bed. Bryn, in typical Bryn fashion, has been chatting and hamming it up with everybody for the hour and a half prior. I’ve been told more than once this evening that she is definitely my kid. Now she requests that “everybody” come say goodnight to her. One by one my friends pile in, giving Bryn a hug and wishing her sweet dreams.

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It’s one of the many moments that fills my heart this evening.

Later, Lauren and I are speedily walking in place. She and I are in the same MBA cohort, so our shared competitive natures don’t come as a big surprise. A week prior to my party, we had been in a FitBit challenge together. I won by the hair of my chinny chin chin, and I had to log forty (40) miles in five days to do so. So here we are jogging on my floor as our husbands share stories about what it’s like to live with such intense humans. IT’S OBVIOUSLY SO MUCH FUN, by the way.

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And now here I am.

Another grueling semester of grad school down.

I have nearly a month of school freedom, which seems like the most luxurious of Christmas presents. I’ll be using said luxury to read all of the books, drink all of the wine and Netflix binge on all of the Parks and Rec.

Eight months from now, I’ll graduate with my Master’s in Business.

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There’s mixed feelings that come with that statement. They are mostly happy, but still bittersweet. My cohort, who made up a good amount of this Christmas party, has become a second family. Grad school is a crazy, chaotic ride and to be on that rollercoaster together makes for one hell of a bond. We’re around each other so often that we have grown way beyond the point of niceties. We laugh loudly and argue sarcastically and call each other out on our crap. We send cheesy, feel-good group messages and collaboratively complain about our shared woes and get into major FitBit wars. And all of that feels like home to me.

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The future is beckoning so sweetly right now. Upon graduation, I’ll have my master’s paired with over four years experience as a social media director. I’m mulling over the possibilities and I am uncertain but so giddy to see where this next part of my life is going to take me. As I ponder what’s next, the world is feeling a lot like my playground.

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But can I just tell you how much I am going to miss sneaking in an economy sized bottle of  wine and dancing on tables to end a semester? Or group study sessions that turn into late night guffawing and the telling of life stories? Or pre-class happy hours that lead to us rushing and laughing our way to class? Because, yeah. I’m going to miss all of those things a whole lot.

As excited as I am for the next season of my life, I’m not ready for it just yet. For the next eight months, you can find me savoring this place that I belong in right now. It’s a place with lots of dancing, plenty of happy hours, an obnoxious amount of laughter, a bit of competitive jogging and a whole bunch of love.

Thanksgiving 2014. I’m really thankful, guys.

I had the most wonderful Thanksgiving week surrounded by my big, crazy, lovely family.

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Here’s what went down, in no particular order:

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 Pumpkin spice coffee, a good book and the Macy’s Day Parade. Impromptu cousin dance parties. Celebrating my Grandma’s 70th birthday party at a little Italian joint the night before Thanksgiving. The family taking turns giving toasts to this incredible lady, most of us simultaneously crying and laughing throughout this process.

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Making parodies about pie. Cousin secrets. EATING ALL OF THE FOOD. Braving the Black Friday crowd to make a late night Starbucks run with the girls.

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Hanging out with horses and my little sister, aka the exact replica of my six-year-old self. My aunt said she recently walked into a room, seeing Kaylee in her new glasses for the first time and her immediate reaction was “Tina?!?” She was so caught off guard by the uncanny resemblance that for a split second, she thought my little sister was a younger me. It’s pretty cool that together she and I have the superpower to transport people back to 1995.

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Realizing, for the first time, that my daughter crinkles her nose when smiling really big, just like I do. My heart turning into a big goop of mushy love. Seriously y’all, there is nothing else in the world that makes my entire being explode with overwhelming joy like my own little person grinning at me.

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Weekend away at the in-laws. Intense games of dominoes. Small town boutique shopping with my mom-in-law. One of said shops offering free wine to browse with. ALL OF THE FESTIVE HOLIDAY THINGS. A starless night turning plans of stargazing into moments of cloud-gazing with my dude. The mixture of a bonfire, wine, loved ones, and the outdoor view of a lit up indoor Christmas tree filling me with happy, fuzzy feelings. Boudreaux family selfies.

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Having such a big family has always been something I’ve loved and have been grateful for. The past few years I’ve just become even more appreciative. A few summers back, my best friend and I were traveling together when I was telling her a story about a recent Cirotto getaway. I was a little taken aback when she admitted envying me for this family. It was the first time I really realized that not everybody has this. Not everyone has a humongous, hilarious, wonderful, wild tribe to call their own. I started to fully understand in that moment how very blessed I am. I get to be a part of a bigger something that is not only a part of me, but that has helped shape me into the person that I am today. I was born with a built-in support system, strong and unwavering and beautifully imperfect. On both sides of my family, I have the chance to share holidays and memories and life with a group of people who love and know and drive me insane in the best way possible. Who have seen me in diapers, in a wedding gown, in a cap and gown and in various states of complete hysteria, like the time I manically ran through my neighborhood, with high hopes of catching and then murdering my brother. (Who had shot me with a water gun on a good hair day.) Somehow I even got lucky enough to marry into another clan full of even more unconditional love and craziness. I couldn’t imagine my life without any of them. And I am so incredibly thankful.

(Pst. If you’re wondering what it’s like to share the holiday season with me…..)