Find out about the gift we should give ourselves this Christmas and always. Its free and always available. It is grace.
Check out the key elements to a perfect holiday night in with the family and how you can create the experience.
It is time to prep for the holidays! There's so much to do in the coming months between holiday get togethers, Christmas shopping, decorating, baking, card sending, etc.. It really can be a daunting time of year. To help you (and me) out, I put together a little planning guide to take us from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
Are you ready for the flood of toys and books and games that your kids will receive this Christmas? Here's how you can prepare!
Between Holiday parties, meal prep, visiting Santa, buying presents, sending cards, the holiday season packs in a lot to do in just a short amount of time. This FREE guide will take the overwhelm out of the holidays.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. On Sunday we celebrated Hailey's first Christmas. It was so fun to see the joy on her face eating wrapping paper and playing with her brother. It was the first time we had all 4 cousins together. It was also the day my grandma went to be with her husband in heaven.
Every year at Christmastime we make time to bake cookies together. One recipe in particular, I have been making since I was in grammar school. They are the most delicious Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookies ever. Now I won't proclaim to be some fabulous baker, but these really are delicious. What's more, one recipe makes about 5 dozen so you really get good bang for your buck. They are great to package up and give as gifts or to bring to parties. So let me take you though our Sunday of baking!
It is that time of year when foods are rich and desserts seem to be available in abundance. Even those who have a steady fitness routine throughout the year can succumb to the temptation of holiday treats. It really is hard this time of year with less opportunities to workout outdoors and more sugary treats appearing everywhere we turn. I've put together a list of tips to help us all stay fit during the holidays.
If you have not yet heard of Lula Roe, consider this your wake up call. Leggings and mom life go together like peanut butter and jelly, Abbott and Costello, Batman and Robin. Lula Roe has some of the most comfortable leggings I have ever worn. They are so buttery soft, it's like a second skin! Plus, the designs are so fun and unique. Don't worry,Lula is about way more than leggings! Lula can take you from casual holiday get togethers to fancy holiday parties!
So the time to send out holiday cards is quickly approaching. Then of course there are holiday party invitations to send out. On top of that, we have Hailey's baptism in a few weeks. So we have been all about cards recently. I decided to head on over to Tiny Prints to create personalized cards for Hailey's baptism and for Christmas.
I know, I know, it's not even Halloween and I'm talking holiday shopping. I'm the first to complain when I see Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving. I am all about giving each holiday it's due. Plus now that I have a child that can actually anticipate holidays, I don't need him pestering about presents so far in advance.
On the other hand, there is no logic to cramming all that shopping into the month of December. I mean with so many other holiday things to do like holiday parties and visiting Santa, who can possibly do all that and not stress?! Not I. For me, slow and steady wins the race. So, here are some tips on how I keep holiday shopping stress free.
If you haven’t started yet, start now. There are two big benefits to this; time and money. Starting early means you have months to get your shopping done instead of weeks. No pushing your way through over crowded stores. No running around on Christmas Eve. No rushing from store to store because what you want is sold out. Expense wise, you get to spread the cost of the holidays over multiple months prior to the holidays. Unlike spreading the cost over multiple months after holidays, this method does not involve paying interest.
Make a list
Make a list but only be super specific when you have to be. For example, Tyler is at an age where he wants specific things. He wants to complete his collection of Ghostbusters mystery minis, and he wants certain Lego sets. Items for him are very specific. Hailey on the other hand is unable to voice her opinions. Therefore, her list might look more like: clothes, stuffed animal, educational toy. For my brother I might write model train equipment. Then anytime I find model train equipment on sale, I can buy him something and check him off my list. The less specific you can be for people, the better. Then you have a broader range of options and can find better deals. Of course, you want it to still be something they would want/need and like.
Put your list into a spread sheet
Make a spreadsheet listing each person or group of people you need to buy gifts for in the first column. For example, individuals I need to buy gifts for include, my hubs, Tyler and Hails, my nephews, my mom, my brother, etc.. Groups might be my aunt and uncle, Tyler’s teachers, etc. In the next column list what you plan on purchasing them. If they are getting more than one item, make a new row for each item. The next 3 columns are as follows: bought, wrapped, delivered/shipped. You could of course do this by hand, but I love the clean look of spreadsheets! Print out your completed list and bring it with you wherever you go. If you are not sure what to get someone, leave their line blank. You can fill it in when you get inspired. Now anytime you find something that someone on your list would like, you can check it off your list. No more over buying because you forgot you already got something. This also keeps track of your wrapping so you won’t get behind on that either. Check out my sample spreadsheet below. Note that this is not my actual list incase these people are reading my blog…
Make 2 lists for your kids
If you have been through any gift giving occasion with kids before, you know you will be bombarded with questions from relatives of what to get your kids. Be prepared. Once you make the list of things that you will be getting your kids yourself, make a second list of things that they want or need. Keep this second list with you as well or give it to your husband, but not both. You need to have a designated go to person for this list. You don’t want both parents giving items out because the whole purpose here is to avoid multiples of the same gift. Now when someone asks what to get your kids, your go to person can give them items from your list. Be aware that these people may not necessarily get the item you suggest to them, but you can hopefully prevent multiples of the same gift. You also avoid the texts back and forth “did you get so and so this?”, “No, OK then I’m getting it”, “OK so then what should I get them now?”…. You can always hold onto the list and if your kids didn’t get the item for Christmas, now you already have a list for their birthday!
I hope you find this list helpful! Do you have tips to reduce holiday shopping stress?? If so leave your tips in the comments!
So, this weekend has been major for our family. We had T's onstage debut in Telethon for Santa and we found out the gender of baby #2!! Because I like to do things in chronological order, we start with Telethon for Santa. If you really can't wait to find out, you can always scroll down and then come back!!
So this week was T's theater debut and I must say I am thoroughly impressed. He spent practically every day last week at the theater helping is dad and Uncle Chris put together the set for the show, often missing naps. Then he would spend all evening at rehearsal. He never caused a problem or had a fit and he was a delight to his fellow actors.
Opening night of the show was Friday and I was every so slightly nervous of how he would react to an audience. It was like he didn't even know they were there, except when he got a laugh, which he utterly enjoyed. He actually got 2 big laughs in his first show! The first was when he sneezed in the middle of my line. The second is when he kicked his feet when one of the other elves has to hold him awkwardly to make it seem like he's never held a baby. In all he had to be carried by 2 other people during the show and he never made a fuss or reached out to mommy. This 2 year old definitely has what it takes to be in theater! Back stage he was quiet when he had to be and he actually enjoyed watching the show from side stage when he had the chance. He even had a cold which didn't affect his good behavior one bit!
Besides the show this whole weekend has been crazy! Friday night I had work, then taught a hip hop class, and then had the show. Saturday, T had dance class then the matinee show, then an ugly Christmas sweater party. Sunday was the gender reveal shoot, another matinee performance, and finally dinner at Aunt Katie's for her birthday and a visit with Santa. Some things had to give, but it was a long weekend none the less.
Here are some pictures from the show!
Back stage with mom and dad.
On stage, acting!
Here's the full cast!
Soooo now it's time for the GENDER REVEAL!!!
Sunday morning we went to the park and my sister in law, Katie, had filled a big box with balloons. The idea was to have T open the box and we would learn the gender based on the color of the balloons. We then did a variety of shots with the balloons. It was so much fun and I love the shots that Katie got. It definitely captured our emotions and excitement. It's a GIRL!!!
Here are some of the shots:
You can check out Katie's work at http://www.katiejoyphotographyny.com. She is great to work with and very patient with kids. Far more patient than you might be, lol!!
I hope you enjoyed our weekend recap! Stay tuned Thursday for our Christmas craft project!