It’s now the day after Christmas (when I’m writing this, probably a couple of days after by the time I post it). All the presents are opened with gifts strewn throughout the house. The kids played so hard yesterday, they fell asleep within minutes. The only thing left undone was the pumpkin pie wasn’t cut and eaten. So, now, we have a great dessert following dinner tonight.
Sitting watching my kids laying on the floor in their new sleeping bags watching a movie, I’m contemplating what actually makes a successful Christmas. Is it getting everything on your list? Is it family time? Is it the Christmas Ham/Duck/Turkey? Is it watching your favorite Christmas show? How about navigating family events without major confrontations?
I would say all of this is nice and comforting. However, for me, a successful Christmas includes several things. First and for most is taking time to thank God for all his gifts. Gifts of grace, forgiveness, and salvation. Plenty of family time. I and my husband was off for Christmas Eve and I’m off today. We’ve made and decorated Christmas cookies, completed art projects, talked about the reason for the season, and did “nothing” together. Third part of a successful Christmas is gift exchange. To me there’s something about watching a very excited son/daughter opening up his/her present and finding exactly what they wanted. For me its the giving of presents that is exciting, not the receiving. Although, I did get almost everything on my list and am very grateful.
Was this year a successful Christmas? Absolutely!
Here’s a few pictures of our activities over the holidays:
Wreath cookies/treats made for our family Christmas
Christmas cookies decorated on Christmas Eve. The kids picked one each to leave for Santa. They had a blast but I quickly realized with all the candy options Santa was going to have a sugar high!
I apparently had a sweet tooth because I made these Vegan and allergy-free cookies a week before Christmas
Since my son has multiple severe food allergies, I make the kids’ chocolate goodies. Each of the kids got one bag of chocolate in their stockings.
I was home from work with the kids the day after Christmas and we made these little trees as an art project. Never mind my inability to create two trees the same, they loved the craft. It was a good reminder that I must be better at doing crafts with them more!
How was your Christmas? Was it a success? What makes your Christmas a success?
My husband is from a large family, there’s 8 siblings. Now that we’re all adults, that’s 8 siblings and their families. That’s a lot of people! Especially considering I’m one of three and the only one married with kids. Buying gifts for everyone quickly can become extremely expensive. This year we did a white elephant gift for the older the kids and adults and a name exchange for the littlest kids. Even though the gifts were technically covered, I wanted to do something for each sibling. The problem? It needed to be nice but cheap.
So, I started thinking about little gift baskets I could easily put together. The women’s were the quickest to come up with but the men’s were by far the easiest to do. The trick to the baskets was thinking about each person and their likes/dislikes and personality. In my case, I wanted to have each one essentially the same so that I wouldn’t have to label each one and worry about getting the right basket to the right person. Essentially, I wanted to say, “Merry Christmas! Pick a basket”. So, I thought of generalizations for each one and went with that. I was lucky because all of the girls like girly things and the men all (except one brother-in-law) like beer.
So here’s the baskets with a list of what I put in each. I tried to get everything discounted or on sale. The women’s baskets I purchased almost everything on black Friday. The men’s baskets I purchased everything at Sam’s club which made it cheaper than buying it somewhere else.
2 winter selection beers
1 bag of nuts
2 jerky sticks
1 Bubble Bath
1 pair of colorful socks
As you can see I kept them pretty simple. I do have one brother-n-law that doesn’t drink alcohol. So in his I replaced the two beers with ice teas. I was also thinking this basket could be easily down with soda and candy bars. Or if the person is into the movies you could do a movie themed one with microwave popcorn, movie theater candy and movie tickets. If you weren’t a budget, you could use more expensive items too.
Have you done or are you doing anything DIY for Christmas presents this year? Have you in the past? If so, what did you do? Were they a success or would you do something different?
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the tree tops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow
We are on the verge of our first snow! The kids are really excited. I had to run out and buy them some snow boots last night. The fun part is that this isn’t just the first snow, but its a huge snow. Huge storm with 10 inches and a blizzard warning.This means one, we will have a white Christmas (yay!) and two maybe a snow day tomorrow. Well, for the kids. Since I work from home, there won’t be any snow days for me.
This is the time of year I love snow. I love a white Christmas. For whatever reason, snow makes it Christmas. I think it stems back to when I was a child. Back when snow was magical and brought Santa and his Reindeer. I remember the smell of soup on the wood burning stove. I can still feel the heat that came off that stove. It’s a special heat, I’ve not found a heat quite like the heat from that old stove. The heat would engulf you like a giant blanket; giving you the warmth of your mother’s arms. A Christmas snow takes me back to when life was easy and fun. Back to a time when there was still some magic in the world and peace was as easy as snuggling up with a blanket and teddy bear.
Oh, yes, Christmas snow is so refreshing. It adds a bit of spark to the holidays. So, for me, I’m excited to be celebrating an amazing holiday of grace and love surrounded by white, glistening treetops. I can’t wait to see the excitement in my children’s eyes when they see the snow!
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all
Your Christmases be white
I couldn’t decide if I should write about what happened on Friday. Shoot, I’m not even sure if I’ll post this. But, if you’re reading it, it must mean I decided to post it. Please remember that these are just my thoughts. The thoughts of a parent of two beautiful children A parent who is tired. Tired of hearing about mass shootings, about people’s fear of losing rights, about mental health access, and from the NRA. I’m a mom ready for change. Ready for people to recognize and put aside their fears and politics. I’m ready for some reform. Please also know, what I’m about to say is MY opinion. If you choose to comment, please be kind to me and I’ll be kind to you.
When I think about this tragedy, I feel very overwhelmed with emotions. I find myself crying for those who lost their lives way too young. My heart breaks for the parents. I can only imagine the pain they feel, the emptiness. I can only imagine sitting in my child’s room knowing I would not see her again. I will not hold my boy again. Just this thought makes my eyes well-up with tears. Following this tragedy, every moment with my kids seems more sweet and somehow more important. When I disciplined my daughter this weekend, I had pangs of guilt knowing some in this country, will not be able to do that. I almost felt like I shouldn’t scold my children at all; that all my time should be spent hugging and squeezing them. I need to move on from grieving.
Beyond the grieving, we as a country, must begin to heal and find ways to improve. I know I will never fully understand why something so senseless happened. God only knows. I do know we must take steps as a nation to prevent this from happening again. We must examine what the causes were and address them head-on without fear and politics. Experts need to evaluate and look for trends.
Trends. I know there are trends. I, a non-expert, can see trends in this incident and in the others. There are two that are screaming to be addressed. An individual with mental health needs which when either unrecognized or under-addressed has hit the point of no return. They had access (easy access) to weapons. Not just any weapons, but assault weapons. Weapons using a magazine and has the ability to fire off several rounds before requiring a reload.
One thing I’ve learned in my life is nothing is simple. What seems simple is almost always more complicated. Therefor, the solutions are always more complicated. Preventing another tragedy will be just as complicated. There are no one cause but multiple. Each cause reaches out to so many other issues. But whats important is that we address these issues head on. We don’t wait for one more tragedy to touch us personally. We must begin to look at what is the best to keep all people of this country safe.
Here is my personal opinion on weapons and ownership of guns. I believe if you want to own a weapon, you should be allowed to for self-protection and to hunt. There is no reason these weapons should include assault weapons or any weapon using a magazine and allowing multiple rounds to be fired without reloading. These types of weapons are NOT needed to protect or hunt. These are weapons used to do large amounts of damage to multiple targets. They were made for military use and should remain military use. I do believe we should ban these military-style weapons from the civilian market. I’m not saying there won’t be a black market for these weapons, but it certainly would decrease the availability for those like the most recent shooters to obtain access to them.
We need to find ways to reach out and treat mental illness. This country still fights with stigmas associated with mental health. Funding is tremendously low to the point where it is difficult for mental health facilities to remain open. It’s difficult for families to obtain resources. Addressing serious mental health issues is one of the ways we can help prevent these tragedies in the future. I believe we need to increase funding and resources for mental health in this country. We need to make it easier for people to access services and make the services at a cost all families can afford.
One day, we the United States will take action. We’ll remember that every child isn’t just someone else’s child but a United States citizen worthy of protection. We’ll start believing in taking care of all children because ALL children are precious. Not just children, but ALL people are precious. We will stop living behind our fears and stand-up for what’s right. But in order to do that, WE must agree to have conversations. Yes, simple conversations that talk about what we value and what is realistic.
In ending, I want to express my hope for the future. Despite the horror that unfolded, there is hope. Hope for a future without violence. This hope comes from God’s strength provided to the heroes and heroines of this event. Those who protected the innocents. I’m very proud of these people; they responded calm and collected under an extremely stressful situation. They did what was needed to keep those who completely trusted them safe. And to them, a whole country is grateful for the courage this small town’s people showed.
I spoke in a previous blog entry about teaching my daughter there are consequences to our actions. In the blog I mentioned I believe we are moving into (and in many ways are in) a society with very little thought of consequences to actions. And that, in fact, as parents we are responsible for teaching our children that not only are consequences real but we should expect them. The recent well-publicized DJ prank, I believe, reinforces my thoughts.
Everyone (I believe) has heard about the nurse who inadvertently provided two DJ’s on air information on Great Britain’s princess’s medical condition. Following this incident, the nurse was found having committed suicide. Before I go any further, please know that I feel very sad for the family of the nurse and everyone involved and there would have been no way the DJs could’ve predicted the nurse’s response. I, do however, feel this is an example of no thought to consequences or, frankly, just not caring what those consequences could be.
The ending of this DJ prank reminds me of another one several years back where despite being warned, a radio station had people drink large amounts of water in order to win a prize. A woman died. These DJ’s were warned but ignored the warning. Life was lost because of a lack of believing in consequences. I’m sure there are many more tragic ends following pranks that don’t make national news. I know there are lots of things ending tragically that were not pranks; just poor judgement.
I’m not angry at the people who had moments of poor judgement; who didn’t take a moment to think through their actions. I’m not intending to condemn anyone or place blame on anyone. I’m not calling for stricter laws or this to become a political moment. It was a horrible and tragic end to what was thought to be a harmless prank.
It’s important to remember even if this woman didn’t die, there would’ve been consequences. Maybe not as severe as death but still consequences. A woman’s privacy was invaded. Potentially information she would’ve preferred to keep between her and her husband. I mean, really, who wants the world (literally) to know you’ve had your head in the toilet all night long? I’m not saying she was vomiting all night (quite frankly, I don’t know if she was), but that could’ve been aired if she had been. She could then become the punch line to jokes because she was pregnant and sick. Even a princess deserves some privacy.
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I’ve loved you. -John 15:12
Even worse than the lack of fore-thought is the lack of compassion that I see in pranks that end in tragedy. Compassion is caring about others and truly wanting what’s best for them. In both of the situations, there was no compassion. If there was, the DJ’s would’ve not called in hopes of gaining some personal information about the princess. The other DJ’s wouldn’t have ignored the fact that someone could get severely sick and die from being forced to drink too much water. Compassion would’ve forced them to think it through. They would’ve put themselves in someone else’s shoes and considered how they’d feel if it happened to them.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying these people are completely void of compassion. I’m not saying there are not those they love dearly and would do anything for. What I am suggesting is there was the missing piece of being compassionate toward those they don’t know. People who aren’t family and friends. True compassion for strangers is harder than for those who you personally know.
Teach me good judgement and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments. -Psalms 119:66
I do, however, wish to point out that as parents we can instill in our child right from wrong. We can instill in our children to take time to think through our actions. To remember that even as adults we are held accountable. No one is exempt. Although I won’t be able to be with my child as she makes every decision, especially once she becomes an adult, the important lessons should stick with her. For me and my house, teaching my children God’s word and to be good disciples is essential in reinforcing consequences. Using God as a guide, we can teach them to be compassionate toward everyone.
Let’s not call for others to make changes or for politics to sort out these issues. Let’s start at home. Teaching those who will inherit this world. Teach a child to be compassionate and to recognize consequences. Teach them how to show God’s love to everyone.
Discretion will protect you and understanding will guard you. -Proverbs 2:11
Every parent has those activities that they enjoy doing with their kids. For me, I have several. Some of my activities require me to leave the house, some are loud, and some are quiet activities. Whether they provide me snuggle time or giggling time, these activities top my list of things I love doing with my kids. They all have common characteristics of relationship building, development skills, and fun!
Here’s 5 of my favorite activities:
1) Reading: who doesn’t love a little snuggle time? I take this a step further with my four-year-old by asking her to find “sight” words and page numbers. We’ve started reading chapter books with her and she tells me about what’s happened in the story. My two-year-old has started memorizing parts of the stories so I make him say his part. We also find the “can you find?” game while reading. I love taking a quick trip to the library to browse though the books. Yes, we’re the family with about 20 books surrounding them and we only check-out two a piece, sorry librarians out there!
2) Cooking/baking: my kids love the kitchen and I love sharing this with them. Having them help me cook/bake helps to keep them from being underfoot or into things and is a great learning tool. We talk about the different ingredients, we count, measure, and pour. Having them help me helps them with math skills and fine motor. We also get to talk about entry-level science too- fruits, veggies, meats, and why all these foods are important.
3) Dancing: Music, music, music! My kids love to dance especially since I’ve enrolled my four-year-old in dance. Since they love it so much, I jump in and Bust-a-move with them. It’s great exercise as I bounce around and be silly. In fact, stellar dance moves not require because the crazier the dance the more they love it. Dancing helps develop creativity as they are coming up with their own moves. It also helps with confidence as I give each of them a chance to independently show of their moves. Its great physical activity for both me and my kiddos. So I say turn up the tunes and get active!
4) The Lying Game (otherwise known as Did You Know?): Ok, so the name of this game may not seem like a good idea, but it really gets a lot of giggles and it helps with creativity. How this game works is I look at my daughter who is wearing a pink shirt and say, “Did you know your shirt is Green?” She laughs and says “No, its pink”. Then she comes up with one of her own. This game is great because it promotes creativity as we come up with new “little lies”. The other bonus is I can play this game while standing in line at the store or while sitting at the dinner table. My son is slowly catching on, well, that what we’re saying is funny anyways. I’ve started including him in it, but he pretty much repeats whatever was last said.
5) Church: This may seem like a strange one, especially for anyone out there that doesn’t attend church. But there are so many benefits of church, besides the whole salvation thing (which is very important). Church helps to not only teach a spiritual aspect of life and helps them to learn about God and what it means to be a Christian but it also teaches many other lessons. At church, they learn there is a time for everything. We stand and sing (loud time), we sit and listen (quiet time), and we sit quietly praying (even quieter time). We have times that we say memorized prayers. As they get older they will work on memorizing those prayers. For now, they learn how to listen, be patient, and about all things spiritual. They learn about God’s Grace and about how to talk to him. Church helps to not only teach those important religious factors but teaches them other important lessons.
Well, that’s my list. What are your favorite activities? What do your children learn from them?
My two year-old son came home with homework last weekend. Yup, a two year-old with home work from daycare. Seem weird to you? It was weird for me too. However, I was grateful for it as it gave us a craft to do. The homework was quite simple, a stocking drawn on a white piece of paper. The directions to decorate the stocking. Seeing the assignment it reminded me when I was in elementary school and we made the red construction paper stockings with the cotton puffs on the top. We used glitter to decorate the stocking part and cotton puffs along the top.
So my daughter could also participate, my husband drew her a stocking. I’d purchased what I’d thought was plain glitter which turned out to be glitter glue. This made it much easier for the kids and gave them more control over the actual decorating. Unfortunately, it took a bit of my control away. I’d planned on marking out the design with glue and then letting the kiddos put the glitter on. The result was clumps of glitter in spots and some areas with absolutely nothing. They had a blast and I loved the end project.
Since completing this, I plan on doing many more glue/glitter art projects in the future!
A few pictures
First step: glue on the puff balls
Second Step: Add Glitter
I love grocery shopping. Always have and probably always will. I know that’s probably weird. I meet more people who HATE shopping than LOVE it. But that’s really not me. I like shopping because it allows me to pick-out and create menus for my family. I pour over recipes looking for inspiration and then I go on the hunt for the ingredients. I enjoy cooking and therefore enjoy the gathering part as well. I get a sense of joy and accomplishment from planning and providing nutritious food for my family.
When it comes to the best time to shop, hands down its later in the evening. In fact, as late into the evening as possible. I just completed my two-week shopping last night. I ran into the store at about 8 PM. My husband was putting the kids down. As I shopped, I realized this is the best time to shop. And here’s why:
1) Less crowded equals faster shopping and less bumper carts. There is nothing worse when you want a casual shopping experience and you’re surrounded by people. The constant bumping of carts, “I’m sorry”s and “Excuse Me”s can get me worked up and feeling anxious. The long lines can make a quick two item run last much longer then necessary. Less crowded also means I more easily find products, reach products, and take time to compare different products.
2) Sleeping kids are not interrupting the shopping process. I use a list for my shopping. Somehow even with the list, trying to entertain my kids while shopping has, on more than one occasion, lead to me forgetting something. Thus forcing me to go back to the store and spend more money. When the kids are sleeping, leaving the house is much easier too. My children like to go with me on every little errand. I’ll admit that I don’t usually mind, however, some things are easier without the kids in tow.
3) Very few rowdy and misbehaving kids. Lets all be honest and admit that those kids that run around, are loud, and being scolded by their own parents (or not and should be) are less than appealing. I’m not saying my kids haven’t been there and done that. But, for some reason, whether its your kids running a muck or someone else’s, it’s still crazy annoying. If you shop after bedtime, most parents (not all) have their kiddos home and tucked into bed, thus causing me stress in the store.
4) I don’t have to share my chocolate. After the shopping experience, I like to enjoy a candy bar and soda. More importantly I like to enjoy it without having to share it. My son can’t eat the candy bar so if he’s without me, this is just out. My daughter can eat it and strongly feels that I must share my chocolate. Oh, no, little girl! When mommy shops alone, her chocolate is all hers.
5) You can actually hear the music in the background. This could be a bonus or negative depending on if you like the music. At night there’s fewer intercom messages asking for more checkers or for a clean-up in aisle 1. The lack of the crackling, screeching, intercom voice yelling out commands makes the shopping experience so much nicer.
Do you have a favorite time to go grocery shopping? If so, when is it and why?