Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Chronicles {Instagram}

I lost my Christmas spirit this week, somewhere between expectations and reality. Or maybe it's just perspective.

The month started on a great note. I was super-excited to start decorating, creating memories with the boys and crafting my way through the month. But I under-slept, over-worked, neglected my health and had too many deadlines. My blessings turned into obligations and my opportunities became just another demand for my attention.

Why is it with Christmas, to have a memorable season, to celebrate to the fullest, we expect so much of ourselves? This weekend I'm going to quietly remember the reason we celebrate, soak in the love and wonder of our three little boys, and remember the big picture.

Join me?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Passport Out-takes

We are in the process of applying for passports. I took some pictures of the boys the other day, asking them to just sit there, then we could take some funny pictures.

Here's what happened.




I love my cuties, crazy as they may be sometimes!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Countdown to Christmas

Ok, so this post might not be named correctly if you're hyper-analytical like I am. It's not technically a countdown because I arranged these cute little cards in numerical order from least to greatest. I thought it would be easier to just check the day's date and read that card for a fun activity with my kids.

So in that regard it's much more like an Advent Calendar. But it's just for an activity, no scriptures or candies or gifts like so many Advent Calendars include.

Call it what you want to, I had way too much fun making this! It reminded me why I used to scrapbook and made me long for the day when I have a little more free time to spend doing just that.

I knew I wanted to make something like this, but part of the time factor when I actually sat down to put it together on Saturday night was spent figuring out how I wanted it to work and where I would hang it! I love the Advent Calendars that use paper lunch bags, so I found some tags and made some more out of my scrapbooking supplies.

I squirreled away cute ornaments, little craft ideas, glitter glue, gum, playdoh with cookie cutters, etc, planning on putting a clue for the day's activity in the paper bag which we'd take down and open each day.

But then I decided it was just too cute and I couldn't pull it down and rip up more of it each day, even in the name of something fun to do with the boys!

And the question of where to hang it kept coming up... And my crib spring display thingy-ma-bob was looking a little forlorn, even with the burlap banner and snowflakes added to the wreath.

Then I someone went and added cute cards to write the activities on... not sure why, but they're super cute, and I someone spent way too long coordinating them just so...

So my 2-3 hour project turned into 5 hours one night, three hours the next day, another hour or two hanging them...

Sadly, that's all too typical around here. Just ask my husband. No, don't, please!

Did you notice just how cute it all is?! Totally worth the time and effort!

You know that when Christmas is over I'll be storing these together in a box. Cute cards, clothespins, tags, ornaments, embellishments and all. It's actually quite flexible, in that next year I can hang them with the lunch bags if I want, or on a string on the wall, or wherever!

(The two little bunches in the top middle are place holders because my crib springs needed something there.)

The boys are totally thrilled with the little daily activities. These are things I included--on a sticky note so I can mix and match next time, or toss the ideas and do new stuff if I want to and not have to mess up my cute note cards!
  • Make coffee filter snowflakes
  • Sing carols by the Christmas tree
  • Make cinnamon ornaments
  • Make cookies and give them to a neighbor
  • Enjoy hot chocolate with candy canes
  • Decorate paper ornaments with glitter 
  • Go to a Christmas concert
  • Make an ornament wreath
  • Play hide-and-seek with jingle bell ornaments
  • Use cookie cutters with play doh

 So there you have it, our Christmas Countdown, or Advent Calendar, or Activity Planner, or Really Cute Christmas Display that took way more time than I planned but I still love it!

How are you looking forward to Christmas every day?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hot Chocolate Station

I'm super excited about decorating Christmas this year! We were in between homes last year and enjoyed Christmas with our families while the decorations stayed in storage.

This year we're staying home and as soon as December 1st came I wanted to be setting up the tree and pulling out the boxes!

I waited until December 2. That's restraint for ya!

I've never set up a hot chocolate station before. I like hot chocolate, for sure, but I didn't think I needed to tempt myself or my small kids with sugary drinks... But I was putting away groceries and reorganizing a few things in the kitchen and this kinda just happened.

First I decided to put the candy canes and marshmallows in jars. Then the hot chocolate packets went in another jar. I added a small jar of sugar and a jug for cream in case someone's fixing a decaf instead of hot chocolate. I added a couple mugs, put it all on a tray and slapped the picture onto Instagram.

Then I added some Epsom salt snow, red ornaments and a cute tag to an antique jar and some other stuff moved around too and I ended up with this.

It was the unanimous winner of the which-do-you-like-better contest on Facebook, and I love the red!

What about you? Do you set up a place for all the add-ins for your hot drinks? Do you prefer hot chocolate or coffee? Tea? I hope you're staying warm this winter!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Insta-Friday {October}

October in Nebraska was amazing! I've never seen such a vivid fall!

As is evidenced by my frequent posts on Instagram and Facebook with yet another picture of something red or yellow or orange. Come on, though, those are some good pictures up there, aren't they?!

We took lots of walks, enjoyed a particularly crisp day at the apple orchard/pumpkin patch, and had so much fun playing in the leaves.

We spent time at the lake and the park and at our house. I discovered that a peppermint latte from Scooter's is absolutely delicious (as is my sleeve from Caribou-thanks Lisa!). We did leaf rubbings and tree art for school and started a new Mommy/Daddy-Son outing tradition. Every other Sunday morning, usually before breakfast, I get to take one boy out for a treat. In October it was donuts, but I'm exploring other options. They boys are so much fun one-on-one, and it's really good to spend a few minutes really getting to know them each! Daddy takes another boy the next week. Love it!

In October I celebrated another birthday, had a date with my favorite man, and tried to capture happy-life moments with our boys. Jonathan discovered that coloring is fun and will spend an hour listening to Bible stories on CD while coloring at his desk. Then he recreates the stories with Legos-like the Egyptian chariot drawn by four horses. Jared is a tease and loves to entertain his brothers. He also likes to hang out on his brother's bed with a good picture book. Josiah is always game for whatever his brothers suggest. That's not always a good thing. He has discovered walking backwards and can say the. cutest. prayers!

October was a super-busy month on Sabbaths. We were on the road by 7 AM, traveling between an hour and a half to almost three hours away to worship in small churches in mid-Nebraska. We were warmly welcomed and treated as special guests in each one. We've met a lot of new friends and gotten back in touch with many of Gary's high school friends. We are excited to have been able to share our mission to the Celtic Peoples of the British Isles with these church members. In October, we reached 5% of our budget!

So there you have it! October in a nutshell!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Be Nice

I try not to wax too philosophically here. Eloquence is not my forte.

But this quote keeps coming up. I saw it on Pinterest, I saw (and shared it) on Facebook. My husband even came home telling me a story based on this thought. It rings so true.

It rings true right now as we head into the holiday season. We see things on blogs and Pinterest and Facebook and in magazines and commercials and ads, even in our friend's homes, that seem bigger than they are. Something that makes us think they have it all together, they have the perfect holiday decor/meal/family/home/relationship/whatever.

Guess what? They don't!

This isn't an encouragement to look for the dirty little secret your friend/aunt/neighbor is hiding. It's about extending yourself the same pleasantries and compliments you give to your hostess. Cutting yourself the same slack you give your bff.

It's not about tooting your own horn either. Chances are, you're doing a great job. Your house looks great, your kids are happy, you cooked an amazing meal. And if you didn't have time, if you didn't get a chance, if you're fighting with your kids to get them to wear that color-coordinated family outfit, if you were grouchy at your husband because he went and sat down while you're still stressing about last-minute details, it's ok!

No, it's not good, nor fun, nor how you want to spend a holiday, but it's life. It's real. We've all been there. It will get better, this too shall pass, chances are you won't remember the stress next year when you reflect on Thanksgiving 2013.

I'm just pretty sure you'll enjoy this holiday season a lot more if you're nice to yourself. Compliment yourself. Say something nice about you in the mirror when you prepare to meet your guests. Do something nice for you during a day off. Step back and enjoy your kids in the middle of the chaos.

Be  nice. It's hard to be happy when someone is mean to you all the time. 

Don't be that someone!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Insta-Friday! {September}

September was a good month. We were no longer in transition (again) and we were adjusting well to our new home, city, jobs, and life in general. This was the first year we officially started school! We're pretty organic around here. That means whatever I want it to. :) Meaning some days we have school, some days we don't. We learn about stuff that interests the boys and that has a place in our daily lives. We create, we make messes, we have fun. Jonathan is somewhere around Kindergarten and 1st grade; Jared is learning his name and numbers and letter sounds; Josiah is along for the ride!

September had some days that were still summer while others reminded us that winter was coming! We enjoyed outings to the park, walks in our neighborhood, the last of our neighbor's generous garden goodies, and playing in the rain.

Did I mention playing in the rain? The second time was after a torrential downpour. It was quite warm so the boys! Some puddles they found were so deep the water gushed in over the tops of their boots. I just smiled and took pictures and knew I was raking in the mommy-of-the-year points on that one! On another rainy day we escaped to McDonald's to use the play place and get ice cream, and the bottom pictures show an outing to Starbucks with a treat card from Grandma Joycie.

So yes, all we do is play, play in the rain, and go out for treats. Pretty much.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thankful Tree (DIY Art)

Well, maybe it's more like a branch.

Whatever it is, I like it. 

This is not an original idea. We've all seen different versions of thankful trees on blogs or Pinterest. 

For some reason the area behind our house has stacks of branches. On a walk last week I chose a likely victim, not too big, not too branchy. I asked the boys to collect rocks to help the branch stand upright and keep the watering can weighed down.

I had some tags on hand, something I found at Walmart in the office supply section. I jotted down a few things I'm thankful for and hung the tags on the tree.

Jonathan was super excited to add a few of his own tags, so I helped him write "mommy" and "daddy" and "my guardian angel". Love that kid!

There are so many ways you could personalize this idea! You could glam it up by using a beautiful vase and spray-painting your branch a bright color, then hanging tags with glitter or by using small Christmas tree ornaments to add a little bling. Mine is a little natural, a little rustic, a little neutral and, since I had the tags already, completely free! 

This might be a stretch, but I'm totally counting this as art. It's architectural, sculptural and organic. Definitely my idea of art! Not to mention I'm wrapping up this series a good 20 days late, so I'll take what I can get!

Day 28. Boom!


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