Posted in Holidays, Me

NYE 2020 and 2021 Goals

Hello and Happy Monday! It’s the first Monday of 2021! Of course, I feel like our two week break flew by, but it was a good one. Technically, my kids are off until Thursday! Teachers start back today though (virtually).

To kick off 2021, I thought I’d recap our New Year’s Eve and share a few goals I have for 2021.

I saw this graphic on Instagram Stories, filled it out and shared to my stories! It’s one form of reflection ๐Ÿ˜‰

I also always think it’s fun to see the Top 9 posts on Instagram. This was my Top 9 of 2020 on Insta:

New Year’s Eve:

NYE 2020: (and most years, actually)…

I kind of miss the years when we could “trick” the kids with a countdown at 9 PM. haha That being said, we had a great evening at home. Truth be told, I’ve never been a big fan of NYE. I’m not big on dressing up, going out in the cold…or staying up late ๐Ÿ˜‚That being said, we’ve spent some fun New Year’s Eves with friends sharing dinner and drinks at someone’s house, and we’ve also had some fun years at home. This, of course, was an “at home” year.

Both kids were adamant about staying up…Hayden said he was going to stay up until 3! I could barely commit to midnight, but glad that I did.

We got carry out from a local favorite: OBC Kitchen. I set the table using wrapping paper as a runner, used our winter dishes for place settings, and gathered a few decorations from around the house for the centerpiece.

The kids love cranberry Ginger ale while Travis and I had adult beverages. We had bacon and peanut butter for an appetizer, and then had dinner of salmon, steak, gnocchi, bread and salad. So good.

Hadley was ready to party!

After dinner, the kids did their own thing for a while, and then we played Emoji Uno for almost two hours. At one point I couldn’t find Homer, but found him in our bed. Apparently, he wasn’t going to stay up until midnight!

Around 11:30, we turned on the countdown, poured the Ginger ale and champs and celebrated with the countdown. We were in bed by about 12:30. I think Hayden watched TV until about 1:30. We figured with it being NYE and break almost over, we’d let him stay up. Both kids have been sleeping so late…but they slept until almost 11 on Friday and Saturday!

As I mentioned in Friday’s post, 2020 had highs and lows, but I’m still thankful for this most random year and certainly continue to count my blessings.

2021 Goals:

I’m going to start with these goals:

and focus on…

  • Allowing for “me” time: This has always been of importance to me which is why I’ve always started my day solo with my cup of coffee, favorite blogs, and scrolling social media. With having the kids home most of the time since March, “me time” has been hard to find. I still get up before them, of course, but it’s still difficult to take some time for myself. I hope to carve out a little bit of time in the evening too.
  • Drinking more water: This is usually an easy goal for me in the summer, but I need to drink more daily all year long. While being home so much, I’ve been drinking more coffee than I should, so I need to cut that off at a certain time and drink water the rest of the day.
  • Eating whole food nutrition: For January, I plan on eating healthy but also limiting fried foods and sugar. I don’t eat tons of fried food, but even on Fridays I usually pick up Chick-fil-A for the kids and indulge myself. I do have a sweet tooth and zero willpower, so I’m going to try to cut out sweets as well…except for some birthday cookie cake mid-January for my birthday.
  • Working out: While I’ve never been one to bounce right out of bed to workout, I do enjoy working out. I feel better physically, mentally and emotionally when that’s a part of my regular routine. I’ve shared a bit before, but I struggled with endometriosis prior to my October hysterectomy which really affected my being able to work out for the past couple of years. I didn’t make excuses and tried to continue to work out, but I still could never give it 100% and couldn’t work out daily. For the past month, I’ve eased back into working out, and will now continue to kick it up a notch and do so almost daily.
  • Keep reading: I love to read and have made it a part of my daily life. I usually average around 40 books per year, and I hope to read that many or more in 2021. Also, I think last year was the first year I started using Goodreads, and I hope to get more organized with my book lists on there this year!
  • Blogging: I love that I’ve been able to blog a bit more this year. I was blogging three days a week, and then was able to write 4-5 posts a week in the past six months. I think four posts a week for me is usually manageable, so I hope to continue doing that. I’d like to branch out and join some other link ups. I’d love to know of link ups you read or join, so let me know, and I can add them to my list!

and then there’s this:

I want to work on owning my time, setting boundaries, and not be so critical of myself. As far as crying and showing emotions…I’ve always been ok with that…but sometimes I let things build up (due to lack of time to deal with it) rather than process what I’m feeling in the moment. I’m reflective enough to know I’m forever a work in progress over here! ๐Ÿ˜†

What goals do you have for 2021? I’m so hopeful it will be a great year!

Have a great week (and a great year!)

Posted in Holidays

Christmas Recap

Hello and Happy Monday! There’s nothing better than a Monday while still on break! I love that feeling; I only wish these Christmas decorations would put themselves away!

Anyway, to wrap up all the holiday posts over the past couple of months, I’m sharing how we spent Christmas Eve and day.

Our elf, Red, of course stuck around until the 25th. We found him hanging out after getting into our wrapping supplies!

Then, he brought the kids some reindeer food to sprinkle in the yard on the 24th.

Lastly, he was in the tree to watch us open gifts on Christmas morning. Santa left the kids some cookies to find Christmas morning. Hayden said, “I bet Mrs. Claus made these!”

We had a nice dinner on Christmas Eve after watching Christmas Eve service from home.

Hadley helped me set the table on Thursday afternoon.

My grandma gave me these Christmas dishes a few years ago, and then I always add candles and a few decorations from around the house for the centerpiece. This year, I added trees and red and green candles to the kitchen table tray.

For dinner, I made lasagna and we had salad and rolls as well.

For dessert, I made a chocolate peppermint bundt cake which is what I’ve made the past few years using Shay’s recipe. It’s sooo good.

Before dinner, we snapped a few family photos. I asked the kids to get dressed for online church and dinner. Also, Hadley is pretty distinguished using the camera timer on my phone, so she set it up, and we just kept smiling!

Selfie with my fave…

After Christmas Eve dinner, the kids sprinkled the reindeer food on the SNOWY! front lawn before exchanging their gifts to each other. Usually, we take an evening and all go out, with Travis taking one kid, and I take the other to choose gifts. Then, we typically meet up for dinner (last year, we did Sunday brunch) as a tradition. This year, I just took each kid out one afternoon to choose gifts for each other.

It’s always fun to see what they pick for each other.

We played Uno before setting out the milk, cookies, and carrots for Santa (and his reindeer) before bedtime.

Hadley woke up twice in the middle of the night to tell me she couldn’t sleep. I’m sure she was excited for Christmas morning, but I bet she could have tried to wake her dad up at least one of those times ๐Ÿ˜‰Anyway, I was shocked to take up at 7:30, and I couldn’t believe the kids weren’t up yet. Through the years, they typically get up around 7:00. I got out of bed and was just about to pour a cup of coffee when Hadley got up and then woke up Hayden and Trav.

After opening gifts and stockings…

Trav’s gift tags to me always make me laugh.

the kids got a pic with Homer who was pretty well-behaved on Christmas morning!

Then, we went outside to check out the snow! It had started snowing Christmas Eve afternoon, and we got even more overnight…probably only a couple of inches but there was some ice as well. The snow was so pretty!

Then, I made a very simple breakfast. I made the muffins from a mix the day before. I picked up some mini quiches from Kroger and while they baked, I fried up some bacon and cut up some strawberries.

Then, Travis and I had a mimosa (or two) and watched Ozark while the kids played video games.

We spent the rest of the day being pretty lazy and calling loved ones to wish them a Merry Christmas.

The kids played in the snow for a bit with the neighborhood friends.

Mid-afternoon, we snacked on a couple apps and took turns taking naps. We had leftover lasagna for dinner and watched A Christmas Story as a family before 10:00 bedtime for everyone!

While it was a different Christmas for sure, we still enjoyed the day and the slower pace this year. That being said, I saw this on Instagram, and can certainly relate and thought of family and friends many times throughout the day.

Well, I guess we’ll enjoy these Christmas decorations for a bit longer because I’m too tired to take them down just yet!

What did Christmas look like for you this year? I hope it was a good day for you.

Have a great week!

Posted in Holidays

Merry Christmas!

Today, I’m keeping my thoughts (pretty) short, sweet and filled with gratitude. 2020 has been quite a year. It’s been a time for reflection, a time for tears, a time of worry, a time for prayers, a time of generosity, a time of unity, and a time of hope.

Even in the dark times of this year, the spirit of Christmas could be seen and felt through the generosity of others, through the sense of community, and through the unwavering hope for better days ahead.

When I started this blog a year and a half ago, I had no clue what to expect. I’ve “met” new friends, found comfort in writing, and become a part of a community I’d only known from the outside looking in.

Thank you for reading my posts, sharing your thoughts, and supporting me on this blogging journey.

Since I can’t send a card to everyone (geez, I barely got my cards out to anyone this year!), I’d like to share our Christmas card in a very 2020 way…virtually!

Happy Holidays:

Other favorite photos from our Christmas card shoot:

Beautiful weather right after Thanksgiving provided for the perfect day to bribe my kids with ice cream for nice clothes and smiles…

Homer was in the on the action!

Henry Clay Estate

Awe…these kids of mine are getting so big!

A few more faves…

Homer wishes you a Merry Christmas too!

While I know it’s been a difficult year for most, and Christmas may not look the same as in years past, I’m hopeful for more lighter days than dark ahead in 2021!

Truly, thank you for being a part of this community.

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Posted in Holidays, Life Lately

Life Lately and Elf Antics

Hey!…or should I say, “Ho, ho, ho?! because we’ve been having lots of festive fun over here. This post is basically a “Weekend Wrap Up,” but I’m going with “Life Lately: Holiday Fun Edition” as well as a glimpse of what our elf has been up to lately.

Friday:

Friday at 2:45 kicked off Winter Break for us, so I decided to plan a fun outside Christmas activity. In Millersburg, not too far from here, is a place called Mustard Seed Hill. I’ve seen people post about the lights and displays at this historic home, so I thought we’d check it out. The tickets were free, but we had to purchase tickets online beforehand to enter. I did so early in the week, and the whole weekend did end up being sold out by Friday. I appreciate that they were limited numbers due to Covid, and the security officer was turning people away who didn’t have proof of ticket.

We parked on the street, and Mustard Seed Hill was easy to find!

so pretty!

I did pay $5 per person in advance to see the gingerbread house display. We had a time frame of 6-7 to look at the houses. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and these displays were from a competition. I thought maybe there would be houses created by professionals, but instead there were displays of categories (teen, family , businesses, etc). That being said, there were so really cool houses on display! Considering the ones we do at home usually end up imploding, I was amazed at these creations.

We did end up going in the house. Again, I wasn’t sure what we were in line to see, but there was a really sweet greeter at the door who let only a few people in and out and shared the history of the home. Once we were inside, we just toured the main level, and then stopped to listen to another volunteer who shared more history about the family. Hayden loves this kind of stuff!

On the back porch of the home…

There was a little line to see this huge ornament, and it was the perfect spot for people to take photos….so, of course that’s what we did.

Hadley really wanted to have her photo taken in the glowing carriage!

Then, we stopped by the outdoor market for a treat. Everyone got hot chocolate, and both kids got a cookie. Mid-bite, I saw Hayden laughing, and asked him what was so funny. Travis had asked Hayden what he got to eat…Travis heard, “Big a$$ cookie,” when Hayden said, “Big iced cookie.” His mask must have muffled his response! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Then, we headed home. We were probably there a little over an hour. The property was beautiful, and apparently this is only the second year they’ve put on this display. While it may not be a yearly tradition, I’m glad that we checked it out!

We got home a little after 8:00, got carry out for dinner, and I started break off with a glass of wine in festive cups I got from @cupsoncochran.

Saturday:

We had a low key Saturday morning, and then Hadley and some friends volunteered at dance for the Christmas Tea Party for the younger dancers. She had a lot of fun.

After that, Hadley and I stopped by our friend’s house who was hosting an outdoor hot chocolate bar for her daughters and friends. It was nice to see some friends, enjoy the hot chocolate, and wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

My friend had so many toppings and different flavors of whipped cream. We also brought a gift to take a gift, and girls always love to do those kinds of things. Hadley came home with some pretty bracelets.

We were there for about an hour and everyone wore their masks which actually came in handy in the cold weather!

Saturday night Travis and I watched Safety with Hayden. It was a really inspiring movie, and fun to watch.

Sunday:

On Sunday, we baked cookies…lots of cookies!

Hayden said he wanted to help with the peanut butter blossoms, and Hadley helped me with the rest of the cookies.

We made sugar cookies, peanut butter blossoms, chocolate crinkle cookies (my fave) and peppermint chocolate chip cookies which came from a Trader Joe’s mix.

I know we can have sugar cookies anytime during the year, but we usually make them at Christmas because we have fun decorating them…even Travis!

Finished products!

For dinner Sunday night, I made Amy’s potato soup. It was so delish!

We wrapped up the weekend by watching my favorite Christmas movie…Home Alone.

Elf Antics:

Going along with festive fun and holiday traditions…Red has been very busy while visiting from the North Pole.

He’s made a gingerbread house…

taken a marshmallow bath with a couple of friends, gotten stuck, and hidden 12 candy canes.

He also made (burnt) toast for breakfast one morning…

wore festive socks and put Santa hats on the kids’ heads in my favorite Santa photo.

He even got Santa to take a photo with them (and Homer!)

Speaking of Homer, he got a hold of Red. Red was still struggling from being #homered last year, but this time was even worse.

Y’all, Red is most definitely the 2020 version of an elf. It may be time for him to stay at the North Pole.

The kids were so upset with Homer…and I was too.

hot glue and Bandaids have him somewhat fixed…for now.

Red also brought cocoa bombs and kisses.

as well as some Pez candy. Then, per tradition, he took a selfie on the mantle and put it in one of our favorite frames .

I can’t believe Christmas is only a few days away. I feel like we’ve had to embrace this season more than ever with some traditions and fun to help make this year have some sense of normalcy.

I hope your week is off to a great start.

Take care,

Posted in Holidays, Tuesday Talk

Tuesday Talk: Holiday Edition

It’s Tuesday Talk day with Ashley and Erika. For this linkup, we can chat about any topic we’d like to focus on for the post! I’m linking up with them again this month to focus on a little this or that and favorites for the holiday!

So here we go…

I’ve seen so many this or that posts shared in Insta Stories, so I thought I’d snag one and share my thoughts.

template c/0 @brewedtea4you
  • Christmas music or Christmas movies: I love Christmas songs while driving in the car, but I’d say I prefer Christmas movies during the holidays.
  • Store bought gifts or handmade gifts: Well, I love to buy gifts for others especially with the help of Amazon and Etsy. That being said, I love nothing more than receiving a handmade gift…especially from my kids!
  • Egg nog or spiced cider: Egg nog all the way. When the kids were little, my dad started calling it “Christmas milk,” so that’s what they still call it. Hayden tends to hog the egg nog at our house!
  • Gingerbread or sugar cookies: Gingerbread cookies for sure. I feel like we can have sugar cookies anytime!
  • Real tree or fake tree: We used to always have a fake tree, but I’ve come to love the tradition of getting a real tree. I love how the scent of the tree fills our home for a few days…even though sometimes it sends my allergies into overdrive!
  • It’s a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story: Christmas Story for sure. We always watch it on Christmas Day.
  • Elves or Snowmen: Snowmen are so cute!
  • White lights or colored lights: I like the glow and simplicity of white lights.

A few of my….

Favorites:

  • Favorite Christmas movie: Home Alone or A Christmas Story
  • Favorite holiday scented candle: Bath & Body Works: Winter
  • Favorite Christmas tradition: As a kid: driving through the Plaza lights in Kansas City with a stop at Winstead’s for a burger and a shake. As a parent: My kids wearing their Christmas pjs and then exchanging gifts that they picked out for each other on Christmas Eve.
  • Favorite Christmas song: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and Let it Snow
  • Favorite Christmas ornament: An ornament we received for our first Christmas in 2005 after we got married and the kids’ first Christmas (2009) under the tree. We purchased one of these ornaments for all of our family members.

So, there’s a little peek at some of favorites in regards to Christmas. How do we only have ten days left until the big day?! Thankfully, I’m finished with shopping except for a gift card and a stocking stuffer or two! What are some of your favorites about Christmastime?

Don’t forget to check out the other ladies’ posts! Thanks so much for reading.

Posted in Holidays, Not Just a Mom

Not Just a Mom: Special Holiday Traditions

Hello and Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Compared to last weekend, we had a relatively low-key couple of days. The kids had a cross country meet on Saturday, but Sunday I pretty much stayed in my pajamas all day. Travis was kind enough to pick up our grocery order while I did things around the house…including purging the kids’ closets! We only do this a couple times a year, but I dread it so much! I’m glad to have that checked off my list.

We are counting down this five day week and ready for a couple weeks off! Breaks is right around the corner.

Today, I’m linking up with Lauren (and others!) for their Not Just a Mom series.

This month’s topic is Special Holiday Traditions.

I grew up with some holiday traditions like seeing the Plaza lights in KC, ice skating at Crown Center, picking out an ornament at Hallmark, baking cookies, seeing Christmas lights, and more!

So, needless to say, I have now made quite a few traditions for my kids to celebrate the holiday.

Here are some of our family traditions:

Santa:

We take the kids to see Santa every year. When they were little, we didn’t take them. Once they were two to five years old or so, they’d see Santa at my school Christmas party or Trav’s work party.

Then, in 2016, we started getting a real tree, and see the perfect Santa while doing so. Our club also hosts a Cookies with Santa party, so we attend that most years. Lastly, one of our friends has hosted a Santa at her house every other year, so the kids have had plenty of opportunities to share with Santa what they hope to receive for Christmas.

2020 Santa Visit:

Santa visits through the years…

Elf on the Shelf:

Our elf, Red, has visited us since 2012. I’m not sure how many more years he will visit, but he’s always fun to have around.

Bake Cookies:

We always receive lots of cookies from my mom. When those are gone, we bake some cookies to get use through the second half of December ๐Ÿ˜‰

This year, my mom visited, and had quite the crew to help with our traditional family cookies.

Cooking baking through the years…

I will say my kids are at a great age (and have been for a couple years) where they are big help in the baking process.

Southern Lights:

I grew up going to the Plaza lights as well as driving through park lights, so Travis and I have continued that tradition through the years. Even when we were dating, we drove through lights in KC or Columbia. Once I moved to Kentucky, we started going through the Southern Lights at the Kentucky Horse Park.

We’ve realized through the years to go on a Monday or Tuesday night early in the season when it’s less crowded. Also, they have indoor activities, but my kids still have no clue about the inside activities. haha

Angel Tree:

We always choose a family from the Angel Tree to buy gifts for in early December. This used to be something I would just do, but the past few years, I’ve found it to be important to take the kids along with us to choose the gifts. I feel like my kids are pretty aware of others’ needs, but having them participate in the act of buying for those in need is something that I obviously hope they remember all year long and not just around the holidays.

PJs and Gifts:

I always give the kids Christmas pajamas as one of their birthday gifts in November. When they kids were probably three, we started taking them to pick out a gift for each other. I remember when they were little, we’d barely make it to the car before they’d tell each other what they picked out. haha

We usually let them open it on Christmas Eve before going to bed. It’s always fun to see what they pick out for each other. They know each other pretty well. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Gingerbread House:

One of our traditions has been decorating gingerbread houses. Some years, the elf brings one and other years I will get one for them to decorate. The elf usually hot glues the house together for them to find in the morning and then we’ll decorate it in the evening.

The past couple years, they’ve each had a house to decorate, and it’s a fun activity…as long as the house doesn’t collapse!

Decorating through the years…

The kids decorated their houses on Saturday night. Again, it’s fun to be a part of that process, but it’s nice they are old enough to decorate on their own. Unfortunately, Hayden’s house imploded and then one of the walls fell on the floor and broke. So, he just decorated the roof while eating bites of gingerbread as Hadley finished up her house.

Hayden ended up decorating the gingerbread man and tree that came with one of the kids.

When I took the pic of Hayden’s roof, he made this face (bottom right) to demonstrate how he felt about the house collapsing!

For once, we couldn’t blame Homer for the destruction, but he sure was tempted by the icing and the treats!

So those are some of our special holiday traditions. While the holidays are such a hectic time, I’m glad we have these traditions, so that we can spend time together as a family even during the busyness of the season.

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions??

2021 link up:

I’m excited to join the Not Just a Mom link up starting in January 2021! I joked with the ladies that I felt like I was invited to the cool kids’ table at lunch! haha. I’ve very excited to join this link up. If you are a blogger, make sure you join us on the second Monday of the month too!

Here are the 2021 topics:

That’s a wrap on our special holiday traditions! I know this holiday season looks different for everyone, and while, at times, that makes be feel anxious and even sometimes sad, I’m trying to focus on the things I can control like some of these traditions. Christmas cookies help ease the anxiety as well!

I hope you had a great weekend! Don’t forget to check out the other ladies’ posts!

Thanks so much for reading,

Posted in Friday Favorites, Holidays, Home Decor

Friday Favorites: Holiday Home Tour

Hey, hey! We made it to Friday. We’ve had a pretty good week around here, and we are counting down the days until Winter Break! It’s right around the corner, so we’ll just keep chugging right along until break arrives.

Of course, I’m linking up with Andrea and Erika for this week’s Friday Favorites post.

One of my favorite things to do for the holidays is decorate. Even before my blog, I would always take photos of where I put decorations to make the process as easy as possible. The weekend after Thanksgiving is when I do most of my decorating, and it’s typically a one (wo)man job…until I can’t carry something or need Travis to hang the garland. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I saw this meme recently, and, of course, it fits today’s blog topic.

While 90% of my decorations have been used through the years, I do move things around and often can’t help myself from buying a new item or two along the way. #michaelsiswhereitsat

Here’s a little tour around our home:

Kitchen:

My kitchen buffet stayed pretty much the same, but I added fresh garland to the top for about a week.

I figured it wouldn’t last long with Homer. He did pull it down a couple of times, but thankfully, he didn’t destroy it.

I love the Christmas dishes that I display this time of the year.

In the cabinet near the buffet, I added in some trees I’ve collected over the years and a cinnamon scented candle. I actually made the burlap trees a few years ago.

Our fire place and mantle remain the same, but I did buy new garland. What I’ve had for the past few years is extra bulky, and I just wanted a more seamless look. Hadley pointed out that the red and the green of the garland match our stockings perfectly. My previous garland was pre-lit, but I had to add lights to this new garland.

I used some extra greenery on our table centerpiece.

I definitely do the love traditional red and green Christmas decor.

This view is definitely a favorite.

One of my friends painted this pallet a few years ago, and it’s one of my favorite holiday pieces.

Office Area:

In the first few years in this house, we never really knew where to put the tree. Once we made this space the office rather than the dining room, the tree fit perfectly in here. I like that you can see the glow of the tree lights from the kitchen and the living room as well as from the street when the shutters are open.

I always put out the picture of the kids under the tree for their first Christmas. They were a month old (and a few days) old on Christmas 2009.

Front Hall:

I kept the front hall the same as years past with the light up tree, Christmas card holder, snowman tea light, and Merry and Bright sign.

I love Bath and Body Works and always have a few candles to burn like the peppermint one on this entry table.

Living Room:

The tall Santa was a Home Goods find a few years ago. I kept it simple on the coffee table with the flocked tree and candle. The light up present provides the perfect glow in the morning and night. I added a lantern and Merry Christmas canvas to my regular decor on my antique chest.

I always keep my cream pillows out and add seasonal pillows for fall and Christmas.

Outside:

This is the first year we’ve put garland out front. I’ve mentioned previously that I was on the hunt for some artificial garland, but never really found any I liked. Then, I saw the real garland at Trader Joe’s and thought I’d give it a try. Travis was kind enough to hang it for me. Now, I have no clue how long it will last, but after a week, it still is looking good. I’ve sprayed it with water a few times. I have no clue if that’s what I’m supposed to do, but that’s what I’ve been doing!

I’ve had the lanterns and poinsettias for years. My cute stocking door hanger was painted by a local Lexington small business. It’s perfectly festive and, again, I love the traditional red and green.

The Rudolph pillow covers are from Etsy, and I’ve had them for years. The trees in the planters light up, and the Merry Christmas garden flag is the final touch outside.

When the garland on the kitchen buffet was starting to look tired, I sprayed it with water and then put little pieces of it in the outside planters.

Sun room:

I’ve shared this room already as it was the first room I decorated for the season. Until this past spring (#thanksquarantine), we didn’t really use the sun room that often. This year, I thought I’d go ahead and decorate it since we are out here so much now. The pillow covers are new (from Amazon) and the basket wreath is a new find from TJ Maxx this year. We’ve had the tree for years as it’s the one we used for a few years before starting to get a real tree for the living room/office area.

I added a few little trees to the tray that’s always on this table, and I burn the Bath and Body Works Winter scented candle when hanging out in the sun room.

A few other faves:

Dinners this week:

It’s no secret that I use Shay’s cookbooks (especially Simmers) quite frequently for meal ideas. Well, last week, she posted about 24 Crazy Easy December Dinners, and I used it as my guide for meals this week. This week, we’ve eaten: Chicken Tortilla Soup, Beefy Mushroom Pasta, Cheesy Ranch Tacos, and King Ranch Joes. (I don’t think KRJ were listed in that post, but here’s the recipe.) This one post was a life saver for me. We eat the soup and KRJs pretty often, but the pasta and tacos were new recipes for me to make. We all loved them.

The Outsiders

A neighbor had a few books in her garage to give away. One of the books I brought home was The Outsiders which piqued Hayden’s interest. He started reading it Monday night at bedtime and then was telling me all about it Tuesday evening. I stopped him, mid-summary, because I was shocked he’d already read the entire book. Hadley then said that he was reading some during the day while listening to his teacher on Zoom. Anyway, he loved the book so much. With his summary of the stabbing and teenagers smoking and drinking, I was reminded why this is a classic middle school book! haha

He deemed this the second best book he’s ever read. Hatchet was recommended by my mom and still his fave.

I hope he always loves reading as much as he does now.

Then, Wednesday night, he begged us to watch the movie. Travis and I watched it with him. He really liked it, but said the book was better. A friend of mine shared a @historic_imagery post with me on Instagram. I never knew that Francis Ford Coppola hadn’t planned on making the movie but then did so after receiving a letter from a librarian as well as over 100 of her seventh and eighth graders in Fresno, CA. They also share that fact in the credits of the movie.

Southern Lights:

Our Southern Lights Horse Park tradition continued this week. We drove through the park on Tuesday night, and loved seeing the upgraded and updated displays. They had the usual displays, but had also added other lights and features. Also, Santa was sitting outside the North Pole waving at the cars. Usually, Santa is inside the pavilion.

Classic Kentucky lights with the horses, Wildcat basketball player, and Keeneland.

Winter Drive-Thru:

The kids’ school had a Winter Drive Thru this week where they handed out fun packs and free books (as well as supplies for the beginning of second semester).

There was a line around the school, and it was so wonderful to see the teachers outside, waving, and so excited to see their students. Teachers and staff were dressed as Elsa, Rudolph, elves, and Santa! To see the hustle and bustle at school as well as the staff and teachers literally brought tears to my eyes. I hope my kids are able to go back to school sooner rather than later.

Books, games and hot chocolate!

Trader Joeโ€™s Snack Mix

Itโ€™s the time of the year for Trader Joeโ€™s to have my favorite snack mix. I found out the hard way a couple years ago when I was looking for it in January that itโ€™s seasonal.

Some people are hoarding toilet paper again, and I left TJ with six cans of this mix! Delish!

Favorite Mom Meme:

Y’all, I feel this deeply.

Bonus Fave: Flashback Friday

Facebook memories from 2017 provided this gem. I love this picture from Trav’s work holiday party. It didn’t really dawn on me until seeing this that we are missing out on some fun during this season. There’s always the work party, a neighborhood party as well as a party with some of our friends. Hopefully, those traditions will be back in 2021. Sometimes I do miss the normal chaos that the holidays bring.

And for fun….here’s a 1980’s flashback for you…it’s a classic!

Weekly Recap:

Here are my posts for this week! We sure have been busy!

Make sure to check out the other ladies’ posts, and I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Posted in Holidays

Elf on the Shelf: Part 1

Well, the spirit of Christmas continues in our house through the magic of Red. I’ve mentioned before that Red doesn’t arrive until December 1st, at the earliest!

He did make his arrival right on time, so today I’m sharing a bit of what he’s been up to.

The morning of December 1st, the kids found him in the kitchen with his book, and he initiated the countdown to Christmas on our family calendar.

The second morning, Red brought the kids their Christmas wish lists in order to report back to Santa at the North Pole. These lists have room for what the kids want, need, wear, and read. Red went ahead and filled out a “need” for each of them: deodorant for one and toothpaste for the other. The kids then proceeded to debate who Red thought “needed” each item. ๐Ÿ˜†

Other mornings, we found Red in the tree with a Santa balloon and then hanging out on one of our decorative trees with a golf ball ornament for Hayden, and a ballerina ornament for Hadley.

Red must love chips and salsa. He even brought red and green holiday chips.

After we all worked so hard baking over the weekend, Red helped himself to a few of our cookies.

Red must have known the kids ran for Pod President, and wanted to join in on the fun.

Of course, Red has been practicing social distancing since the beginning of time! Here, he reminded the kids to keep their distance…especially in 2020.

On Wednesday morning, we found Red in our cabinet all wrapped up in twinkle lights.

Then, this morning, he brought the kids a Would You Rather book (Christmas edition!) because he must know they love to ask each other (and their friends!) those questions. #fifthgradehumor ๐Ÿ˜‚

While Red’s visits don’t provide all the oohs and aahhs and innocence of when the kids were little, we still laugh at his antics and appreciate the few gifts he leaves along the way.

#tistheseasonforred He’s pretty funny and generous if I do say so myself! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I hope you are having a great week, and see you back here tomorrow for Friday Favorites.

Posted in Holidays, Let's look

Letโ€™s Look: Holiday Cards

It’s Let’s Look Wednesday! This is a fun link up with Shay and Erika where you get a little peek at a certain topic.

In 2020, we’ve looked at:

  • January: your bedside table
  • February: your winter wardrobe
  • March: what’s inside your purse
  • April: Easter at your house
  • May: your weekend
  • June: what’s in your carry on bag
  • July: your summer wardrobe
  • August: your desk
  • September: your school pics
  • October: how you pumpkin
  • November: your holiday menu

Fun fact: My January Let’s Look post was (I think) my top viewed post of the year. Almost 700 people apparently wanted to check out my bedside table! ๐Ÿ˜€

This month’s topic is Let’s Look: holiday cards.

Well, my holiday cards haven’t arrived just yet, so I thought I’d share our holiday cards through the years.

Travis and I had some form of Christmas card off and on before we had kids, but once the kids were born, I did a better job of taking and saving photos, cards, and other momentos.

Here’s a little trip down memory lane…

2009:

The kids were barely a month old by the time Christmas rolled around in 2009. So, we combined a Christmas card with their birth announcement. I still have this Christmas storage box, and it sits under the tree each year until I start putting wrapped presents under the tree.

2010:

Well, here are the kids are in 2010, and they barely fit in the Christmas storage box anymore!

They also refused to sit still for the Christmas card photo! I literally remember sweating as I would get one situated, back away to take the photo, and then the other would move! ๐Ÿ˜…

I couldn’t find the card, but I know we used those pics!

2011:

In 2011, I put them in a laundry basket to sit still for the photo! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Hadley’s signature move at that age was giving all the hugs…in a very “you have no choice but to hug me” way!

We included our dogs, Shiloh and Scout, in the card that year!

2012:

My brother got married in the fall of 2012 which provided the perfect opportunity for some memorable photos. Again, Shiloh and Scout made the cut again to be included on the card and the kids continued to make use of the Christmas storages boxes.

2013:

The card for 2013 was definitely a Pinterest idea, and it wasn’t a fail. I love this pic of Hayden and Hadley. So little and cozy in their jammies.

2014:

Again, for some reason, I can’t find our 2014 Christmas card, but my brother used his fancy camera to take these photos. This was our first Christmas in our current house.

I still have these individual photos framed, and they are in our gallery wall in our kitchen.

So sweet.

2015:

For the 2015 Christmas card, my brother took these photos as well. I remember it was pretty mild weather around Thanksgiving time, so I asked him to take a few photos of the kids.

They turned out so precious…

and the back of the card shows Hadley’s personality perfectly! ๐Ÿ˜‚

2016:

This is another favorite card of mine that we shared with family and friends. You can’t tell from the photo, but Hayden was playing football with friends a few minutes before picture time and ended up with a busted lip! Of course he did! I made sure when I took the photo not to zoom in!

2017:

My brother helped me by taking these photos as well. Man oh man, I remember the kids acting ridiculous while he took some of these photos….especially Hayden. I had to be thankful for whatever good ones he got!

2018:

For fall break 2018, we went to South Carolina. One night before dinner, I told the kids I wanted to take their pictures by the water at sunset. Well, I ended up asking someone to take our family photo, and I couldn’t believe how great it was.

Once December rolled around, I was so happy to have a perfect family photo from one of our favorite places.

And, again, Hayden fell victim to Hadley’s silly and sassy personality…Hadley throwing up the peace sign behind him, and he had no clue.

2019:

The kids didn’t fight me on wearing nice clothes for the 2019 photo if we could bring Homer along for the photo. Well, this time, Homer stole the show! We got a great pic with him and the kids.

Even with Homer, this was one of our easiest photo sessions to date. I snapped a few photos with my phone, and that was all we needed.

2020:

As I previously mentioned, my 2020 cards haven’t arrived yet. I took a few photos of the kids the Friday after Thanksgiving…

…and Homer was invited back again for the photo sesh.

The Henry Clay Estate provided for the perfect place (with perfect weather that day) to take a few pics of the kids for this year’s card.

I can’t get over how big they are getting!

Until this post, I hadn’t realized how many times I’d asked my brother to take the kids’ photos. I should really get him a gift card or something!

Ironically, Trav’s brother is a professional sports photographer, but I don’t want to bug him like I bug my brother!

It’s that time of the year when the “picture perfect” cards start to roll in. Of course, I try to find the most perfect picture too, but I like to include an outtake or two on the back!

Behind every โ€œperfectโ€ photo, thereโ€™s usually a stressed out mom handing out bribes for the photo ๐Ÿ˜‚ Iโ€™m forever trying to keep it real around here!

When my 2020 cards arrive, I will definitely share those closer to Christmas. I really do love giving and receiving cards. I’d say with all that’s gone on in 2020, I will appreciate receiving those cards more than in previous years. I hope sending Christmas cards is a tradition that never fades.

Don’t forget to check out the other ladies’ posts as well!

Thanks so much for reading.

Posted in Holidays, Traditions, Weekend Top 5

Weekend Top 5

Hello and happy Monday! Tuesday! I took yesterday off from blogging because I was swamped from our action packed weekend! So, I’m recapping that for you today…just on on Tuesday rather than a Monday!

Here’s our Weekend Top 5:

1.

Hadley requested Chick-fil-A for lunch on Friday (what’s new?!), so I picked up a peppermint milkshake for myself! (Also, I’m late to the party using the Chick-fil-A app–I’ve been using it now for a couple months, and it’s life changing. Even better is usually Hadley rides along with me to pick up our order and runs inside to get it!)

2.

Cookies, cookies and more cookies.

My mom came to visit, and we baked lots of Christmas cookies over the weekend. Hadley helped her bake gingerbread cookies on Friday. On Saturday, most of us helped make Spritz cookies and Pfeffernuse. Then, Hayden helped her make more gingerbread men because he missed out on that fun on Friday. Saturday night, Hadley helped GG make fudge, and then on Sunday, Hadley (and others) helped dip the Lebkuchen in the icing.

Ta da!!! the finished Pfeffernuse…

Pfeffernuse, Spritz, and Lebkuchen cookies. Often times, GG bakes ahead of time or when we are in KC for Thanksgiving and sends us home with the goodies. Some years she mails the the cookies to us. This was the first year we all baked together (or took turns baking because…too many cooks in the kitchen…) ๐Ÿ˜‚

A few weeks ago, I ordered cookies to decorate from a local small business baker/decorator (One Smart Cookie). The kids decorated those on Sunday after dinner, and those cookies were our dessert.

We always save a decorated cookie + a few of the family cookies for Santa. I just put them in a baggie and freeze them until Christmas Eve.

3.

I always put a few front porch decorations out, and Travis always puts the lights out on the porch and/or bushes. This year, I wanted to add garland to the porch. I couldn’t really find any I liked until…I made a stop at Trader Joe’s for a few goodies and saw their beautiful (and inexpensive!) garland.

I bought two swags of it…and Travis worked his magic in hanging it! I love it so much.

This may be what I do every year since I only need it a few weeks, it’s inexpensive, looks beautiful, and we won’t have to store it.

4.

Well, it happened! I know I mentioned last week that our favorite Santa spot wasn’t hosting Santa. This year, our club organized a drive thru Santa visit, so we decided to go for it. I’m assuming this will be our last year to visit Santa, so I wanted to take advantage of this offer. We waited in the car line and pulled right up when it was our turn. The kids got to chat with him outside for a few minutes, we hopped back in the car, and headed home.

It was a really sweet experience even if we didn’t get to enjoy all the usual festivities that the club typically offers.

Chatting with Santa, hand “Santa”-tizer, and waiting for their turn to see Santa while wearing their masks.

5.

Holiday lights! We usually drive by these festive lights at some point in December, and we decided to go ahead and swing by while we were out after visiting Santa. We ooh and ahh at them every year!

Bonus:


My mom brought Hayden the rest of her Harry Potter books. Hayden’s read the first few, and she gifted him the rest, so he can continue reading them through the years.

Shew! I told you we were busy! I was even able to wrap a few gifts while watching the Chiefs game on Sunday night! That made for a late bedtime, but it was worth it to cross one more thing off my list!

I hope you’ve had a great start to your week. See you back here tomorrow for Let’s Look.