Posted in Holidays, Monthly Musings

Monthly Musings: Love and Valentine’s Day

Hello! How is your week going? I can’t believe it’s already Thursday. I do feel like this week is flying by! I’m happy that Holly and Patty are continuing their Monthly Musing link up for 2 0 2 2!

It feels crazy to be thinking about Valentine’s Day already, but I guess it is just a couple weeks away.

1. Favorite Valentine’s Memory?

I don’t have a special Valentine’s Day memory that jumps out to me, but I do remember how fun it was to exchange valentines during the elementary years. I loved a class party and always thought it was so fun to exchange valentines with classmates.

I loved re-living those days when my kids were in elementary school. The kids’ Valentine’s Day boxes from a couple of years ago crack me up. Hadley was all about the bling, and Hayden just wrote his name on the box. This says a lot about both of their personalities.

2. Chocolate, Flowers, or Both?

I love chocolate…probably too much! That being said, my favorite part of holidays and birthdays has to be receiving a card. For some reason, Travis always writes my name in bubble letters on my cards. It’s now a sweet tradition.

3. Favorite Romantic Date?

We don’t really purchase gifts for each other, but we typically make a point to go out to dinner around February 14th. We do exchange cards on the 14th though.

4. Any Valentine’s Day Traditions with Kids?

I always buy the kids a little box of chocolate, a book, and a few other things. Sometimes, I purchase a game I know we can play as a family.

The past few years, we’ve had a Valentine’s Day dinner at home where we eat everyone’s favorite dinner item which means a fun mix of foods for our meal.

5. How Do You Show Love?

I get a lot of grief for not being a big hugger, but I think I show love with kind gestures and notes/cards. My “love language” is Act of Service, and I really do appreciate when Travis helps me with an errand or an at home chore that I don’t want to do.

When the kids were babies, I decided to order a card from Shutterfly to send to immediate family for Valentine’s Day. I love this tradition.

2020 card

6. Do You Decorate for Valentine’s Day?

I don’t go all out with Valentine’s Day decor, but around February 1st, I put up a few Valentine’s Day touches.

7. Do You Wear Red or Pink on Valentine’s Day?

If Valentine’s Day falls on a school day, then I will wear something red or pink. I’ve always loved having the kids wear red/pink for Valentine’s Day through the years.

I guess we are probably past that stage, but Hadley will find something festive in her closet, I’m sure.

8. Valentine’s Day—Big Deal or Small Remembrance?

I’m team “you should show your love year round,” so I just think the day is nice to celebrate small. Again, I love a card, and it’s nice, with our hectic lifestyle, to make a point to go out to dinner around Valentine’s Day. Honestly, I have loved celebrating at home through the years with the kids too.

9. Favorite Ideas for School Valentine’s Parties?

I typically couldn’t help with holiday parties as I was usually at school myself. When the kids were in elementary, I was always happy to donate baked goods or craft supplies. Again, I have fond memories of holiday parties from elementary school, so I wanted to help my kids’ teachers as best as I could.

With my kids now in middle school, I guess the days of buying class Valentines are over. That being said, for a couple of years, I used Andrea’s awesome printable Valentines. She has so many amazing ideas. Like her directions say, you just save the design and then print (I print to Walgreens) and add to whatever snack, candy or toy you are sharing.

Hadley chose the s’mores one to give to the kids in the class pod last year.

10. Have You Ever Had a Secret Admirer?

I don’t think I’ve ever had a secret admirer. Again, with my kids in middle school, I’m reminded of the fun notes and candygrams that can be sent via Student Council, and sometimes they say “secret admirer.” It’s always fun to guess who may have sent the sweet treat.

Do you have any Valentine’s Day traditions? It will be here before we know it.

See you back here tomorrow for a different kind of Friday Favorites + a GIVEAWAY!

Posted in Holidays

Christmas Recap

Hello and Happy Monday! I love a Monday with still over a week left of break!

Today, I’m sharing some of our break so far as well as our Christmas.

On Monday evening, Travis and I attended my school’s holiday party. While we were there, the kids decorated their gingerbread houses with the sitter.

Tuesday was cookie baking day. We usually bake two cookies: Peanut Butter Blossoms and Chocolate (Peppermint) Crinkle cookies. Sometimes, we will also do sugar cookies, but we decided to just stick with these two recipes.

The chocolate cookie dough has to go in the freezer for a bit, so Hadley and I made that dough while Hayden was at basketball training. Then, when Hayden got home, he helped me make the peanut butter cookie dough, and we baked all the cookies.

Both kids like to help, so it simplifies things (*read: less fighting) if I make one type of cookie with each kid. That being said, all hands on deck for the Kisses!

Both cookies turned out perfectly.

On Wednesday, cousins came over, so I baked gingerbread cookies ahead of time and the kids decorated them.

Our elf has been up to a bit of fun this past week. The kids loved the cookies he left, and they had fun searching for the candy canes he scattered around the house.

Homer has been really good with Red this year except for one time when he got him! So, Red thought it would be best to hang out in the Mason jar! The kids loved the lottery tickets he left (but, no winners!), and of course we needed reindeer food (oatmeal + glitter) so Santa could find our house.

We had our Louisville Christmas on the 23rd. The kids loved their gifts…

and cousin time.

Christmas Eve morning was pretty low key. I had some time to finish wrapping gifts, and then I baked the cake I make every year: Shay’s Chocolate Peppermint Mocha Bundt Cake.

It’s a family favorite!

Then, we went to my brother’s house for a cousin Christmas. The kids exchanged gifts, and…

we enjoyed a few Spritz cookies that my brother’s family made (another family tradition!)

My kids usually exchange their gifts on Christmas Eve before bed. That being said, I had a feeling we were going to have a late night, so they exchanged gifts Christmas Eve afternoon once we got home from my brother’s house.

Last weekend, we all had lunch out and then I took Hayden to pick out Hadley’s gifts while Travis took Hadley to get Hayden a gift. It’s always so fun to see what they choose for each other.

Hayden and I went to Buff City Soap, and he picked out a few things for her. Then, he said we should go to Joseph Beth (a local bookstore…and one of his favorite places. haha) JB does have so much more than books! He was excited to find this stuffed dog that he said looked just like Homer!

Hadley picked out Nike shorts and a shirt for Hayden as well as the Jordan magazine that I told her he had his eye on it at the bookstore.

We had Christmas Eve dinner before church. We had salmon, Bob Evans mashed potatoes and bacon wrapped green beans.

Before Christmas Eve service, we took a couple of pics:

Our church looked so pretty…

…and my favorite part is Silent Night.

After the Christmas Eve service, we stopped by our friends’ house for some apps and drinks. They were having an open house for neighbors and friends. It was nice to see everyone and hang out for a bit.

Then, we put cookies and milk out for Santa along with a few carrots for the reindeer. (We will do this until they graduate high school, right?!)

Per tradition, the kids stayed up too late, and I had to force them to *finally* go to bed.

We set the presents out and headed to bed close to midnight!

Hadley told me she was going to set an alarm to wake them at 7:30, so I set one for 7:00, so I could be up and have a few minutes of peace and quiet.

They woke right around 7:30. We opened presents while Red watched from the tree, per tradition.

The #1 thing on Hadley’s list was a pink cowgirl hat. Hayden asked for a UK basketball jersey and Kobe’s Mamba Mentality book. Both were very pleased on Christmas morning, and I love that their wish lists are pretty simple.

Then, it was stocking time which is everyone’s favorite part.

I wish I could say the rest of the day was super relaxing because we did stay home all day, but the day still somehow passed by quickly. From breakfast, to gift assembly, clean up, organizing, family phone calls and more, we were pretty busy…but a good kind of busy.

The weather was so mild that the kids actually played outside with friends most of the afternoon.

Finally, Christmas night, I watched A Christmas Story per tradition.

Yesterday, we eased into the day, but then we spent over three hours purging and organizing drawers, closets, and the kids’ bedrooms.

Travis reminded me that we didn’t have our traditional Christmas morning mimosas. So…I treated myself to one yesterday afternoon as a reward for all the cleaning and organizing I did. #treatyoself

Then, I watched the Chiefs vs the Steelers game while Hayden and Travis went to a local high school basketball game.

We’ve had a really great first week of break, and we had a wonderful Christmas as well. It has been different being home so much, but we’ve had a good mix of productivity and a bit of relaxing.

This Week:

I plan on posting two more times this week:

On Wednesday, I will share the books I read in December as well as my Top 5 books of 2021:

Then, on Friday, I’m going to take a look back at 2021…

I hope you had a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of holidays.

Posted in Holidays

Merry Christmas

Happy Wednesday! With only a few days until Christmas, I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas.

I tried and tried to find a time to snap my kids’ photos for a card, and the best I could do was asking them to put on some nice clothes, sit, and smile in the hotel lobby over Thanksgiving.

Not too shabby for a spur of the moment photo sesh:

Of course, Hayden and Hadley were insistent that Homer make the annual Christmas card too! Well, he wasn’t at the hotel with us, so we took a quick photo once we returned home from our KC Thanksgiving.

Again, this was the best we could do because Homer refused to get near the tree in the living room. So, on the sun room couch, kind of near the tree is the best we could get.

I think the cards turned out great.

front

I was pleased that we got an impromptu family Thanksgiving photo, and that the kids ran into Santa at Union Station. We were able to add a few informal photos to the back of the card.

back

I believe that I shared last year that I typically order two cards. I purchase one set from Shutterfly on Cyber Monday, and then I also print some at Walgreens. I love making two cards because I always have a hard time choosing just one template.

Also, it’s time consuming (but worth it!) to send cards, so I love being able to get started sending cards while waiting on the Shutterfly order that typically takes longer to arrive.

2021 card #2

Bonus Holiday Photos:

I shared this photo that I ordered from Narci a few weeks ago…

…but I also ordered this one to have out during the holiday season:

These photos are so sweet and special. I will certainly cherish them for years to come.

Also, Homer is excited for Santa Paws 🐾

I know that the holiday season is such a special time for so many, but for others it can be a very difficult time as well. Trav has recently lost a special member of his family, and I know they aren’t the only ones who’ve lost a loved one. Also, with the recent devastation from the tornadoes here, so many are starting over and rebuilding their lives while mourning lives lost.

My thoughts and prayers are with those who have experienced loss and sadness making this a difficult holiday season.

We’re staying home this year, and while I know I will enjoy a slower pace these next few days, I’m certainly missing my KC family.

I’m taking the rest of the week off to spend time with my family, but I plan on posting a few times next week.

Please know how grateful I am for this community.

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

Posted in Friday Favorites, Holidays, Kids

Friday Favorites {#94}

Hello and Happy Friday! Well, we made it to the end of the week!

Today is the best kind of Friday…the last day of school before a two week break!

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

The kids both had a very busy Saturday last weekend. Hayden had his last club cross country race of the season, and Hadley’s dance studio had their Winter Showcase.

I missed Hadley’s first performance trying to get to Hayden’s cross country meet, but I was able to make it to her second performance. My mom was in town, and was able to see both her grand daughters’ performances.

Hadley performed in both a ballet and competition jazz routine.

Hayden was supposed to run at 11:00, but the race got pushed back to 12:30 due to the storms. I thought I could watch Hayden run, and then make it to Hadley’s second performance, so I tried to do both. Well, it’s a forty-five minute drive, and Travis warned me about the long line of traffic to park. Right as I reached the mile long line of cars, it started to rain again. Travis texted me that the race got pushed back again to 1:15. So, I drove all that way just to turn around in order to make it to Hadley’s performance.

This was a USATF National race with top runners from throughout the country…and these were the running conditions:

While I know Hayden didn’t finish where he wanted to, he still ran a great race. He gave it his all which is all we can ask for from our kids.

My mom was visiting, and brought the kids these hot chocolate bombs which, of course, were a favorite.

Then, they helped her bake cookies. This is definitely a favorite Christmas tradition.

On Sunday, my brother and sister-in-law hosted us for an early Christmas dinner.

The kids were excited to open some gifts! My mom was able to stay a couple of extra days and help with school drop off, pick up, schoolwork, and was able to see my nephew’s Christmas performance too.

Homer welcoming us home is always a favorite. He’s been such a good boy this year with the trees and ornaments.

Wednesday night, we were able to carry on with another favorite tradition. We drove through the Southern Lights at the Horse Park. I love this tradition, and it was the perfect night to see the lights.

Red has been back in action at our house…

He hasn’t been getting into too much trouble.

Hayden brought home this ornament he made in art class. The wooden Santa belt is the perfect addition to our tree.

Usually, I share a “favorite mom meme,” but this one seems fitting right now as a teacher:

Weekly Recap:

I was a busy bee blogger this week. There are my posts:

What are your plans this weekend? Hayden has a basketball game, I have a friend’s birthday party, and we hope to make time to let the kids shop for their gifts for each other!

Thanks so much for reading,

Posted in Holidays, This and That

This or That: Christmas Edition

Hello! I’ve shared a few This or That posts, and I think they are a fun, quick way to share thoughts on a topic. Shay recently shared her This or That for Christmas on Instagram, and here are my responses too!

  • Fake Tree or Real Tree: We used to have an artificial tree for years, but have gotten a real tree for the last few years. I do love having a real tree as our main tree in the living room.

…but I love having a smaller artificial tree in the sun room and our bedroom to enjoy for a bit longer than a real tree lasts.

  • White Elephant or Secret Santa: Why is it that both of these options stress me out? I swear I’m a fun person. 😆 I guess I just feel like it’s one more thing to do / gift to buy when the time comes. I do think if I had to choose, I prefer Secret Santa because at least then you give and get something you’d probably actually want.
  • Egg nog or Hot cocoa: I love egg nog in December. I’m not a big cocoa person…but Hadley sure is! Hayden prefers egg nog. Sweet story: when the kids were little, my dad started calling egg nog “Christmas milk,” and it’s stuck! Also, my kids prefer the AE brand, and we don’t get that in Lexington. So, my brother bought a few at Thanksgiving, and put them in a cooler to bring back to Lex. Then, my mom brought a few cartons when she visited last week. So, Hayden has been so happy to have some extra “Christmas milk” on hand.
  • The Grinch or Elf: ahhh! I love the Grinch story, but prefer the Elf movie.
  • Mariah Carey or Michael Buble: Well, 1997 me would have been blasting a Mariah Carey CD in my car this time of the year, but the 40+ year old me definitely loves Michael Buble.
  • Black Friday or Cyber Monday: Hands down, I’m a Cyber Monday girl. I’ve never understood why people Black Friday shop. It’s too much pressure, too hectic, and too crowded! I love to make a list and be ready to go on Cyber Monday for probably 70% of my shopping. Then, I enjoy taking my time while out and about in December to choose other gifts when I have more time to do so.
  • Christmas Day or Christmas Eve: I think I’m more of a Christmas Day person. While I love the traditions of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day has a slower pace to it and a bit more time to relax.
Christmas Eve service is a favorite
…as is Christmas dinner
  • Ugly Sweater or Matching PJs: I love pjs! It’s always fun seeing my kids in their Christmas pjs excited for Santa. I hope as they get older, they will still continue this tradition in some way.
  • Giving Gifts or Getting Gifts: I definitely enjoy giving more than receiving! It’s always fun to see someone open a gift you think they’ll like.
  • Eating treats or Baking treats: BOTH?!? I do have quite the sweet tooth, so I enjoy eating treats, but I also love baking them. The kids and I bake some cookies with family this time of the year which is fun.

So, that’s a wrap on those topics! What about you? What are your preferences?

I can’t believe we only have two more school day until break. I can’t wait to not set an alarm and have some time to actually wrap gifts, bake cookies, and have a little extra time to relax.

See you back here tomorrow for Friday Favorites.

Posted in Holidays, Home Decor

Happy Holidays Home Tour

‘Tis the season for reds, green, and sparkly. Well, at least that’s what you’ll see at my house.

This is the first year I didn’t decorate until after December 1st. I typically try to have my house decorated the Sunday before Thanksgiving, but with the kids’ birthday that weekend and then holiday travel, I just didn’t get it done until the first weekend in December.

My holiday decor tends to stay the same year to year, but I tend to always pick up at least one or two new things to add to our home. These posts are a way for me to share how I’ve decorated, but they also help me remember where I put things each year.

Come on in…

Outside:

For the second year in a row, I purchased two strands of garland from Trader Joe’s. I have no clue if it actually helps but I take a spray bottle of water and midst them every couple of days hoping they will stay green until December 26th 😉

I love my door hanger from a local artist, the Rudolph pillow covers are from Etsy years ago, and the light up trees fit pretty perfectly in the planters I keep out year round. I also add bows and a few pieces of leftover greenery to the planters.

Travis puts lights in the bushes which are a nice finishing touch for the front.

Front Hall:

This area pretty much stays the same year to year. Next year, I may find something to replace the light up tree…it can be glitchy.

Our elf left the bow on our new mirror, and I forgot to take it down. I kind of like the added touch.

I add a few holiday touches to our built in’s.

I love this tall Santa, and I found him the perfect spot on the living room fire place.

I’ve had the same pillows and blanket for quite a few years. Next year, I may find one to replace the “Peace” pillow because a red pillow and Homer hair aren’t a great combo.

I always love decorating the tray on the coffee table. I have quite a few trays and tend to move them around. I light this candle every morning while I have my quiet time.

I gave Travis a hard time about the size of our tree, but I really do love it. The snowflake pillow, picture of the kids under the tree at a month old, and a few packages (Amazon boxes I wrapped a few years ago) round out this corner of our home.

I added a few festive touches to the top of the cabinet in the office.

My Gma made this winter shadow box for me as one of my Christmas gifts. This week, I found a perfect spot for it on our desk.

The view from the kitchen to the office is a fave of mine. I added a few holiday pieces to this tray on the island as well.

A friend made me this sign a few years ago, and I love displaying it every year.

I shared in a previous posts that Hayden was insistent that we find a place for the village my Gma gave me years ago. I can’t believe I didn’t think of the buffet sooner. It’s perfect there.

This glass dome sits here almost year round. In the fall, I fill it with pumpkins, and for Christmas, I fill it with ornaments.

The small wreath with ribbon was a last minute addition to the tobacco basket. The wreath typically sits on my candle holder, but I wasn’t using it right now. I just tied it to the basket with a leftover piece of ribbon, and it was the perfect touch.

I always swap out my china for Christmas plates, and the angel can hold a tea light; I’ve had it for years.

Here’s the village lit up at night:

I purchased new garland for the mantle last year, and I’m still pleased with it.

Last year, one of our stocking holders broke, so this year, I decided to just use command hooks. I also moved the stockings to either side, and I like that the fireplace looks less cluttered.

I loved decorating this tray on our kitchen table. I kept it simple with this lantern, some ornaments, and these red berry boxwoods. I only purchased two new things this year. These boxwoods for $5 each at Target and a new pillow for the chair in the kitchen.

I love setting the table with my Target plates that I’ve had for a few years.

Here’s the new pillow I picked up at Michaels.

My mom gave me this cute “Merry and Bright” Plaza lights art, and I love it in our kitchen hutch. I also added a few trees and a favorite snow globe. My Gma painted the tree next to the snow globe years ago, so it’s also one of my favorite pieces to put out each year.

This is the second year I’ve decorated the sunroom. The tree and slip covers were purchased last year.

A few trees and a seasonal candle are perfect for this tray.

In our room, I have one of my cashmere pencil trees and a crock that I add a candle to at night. Both are from Michael’s.

One more peek at our living room tree. She gives off quite the glow in the morning and nighttime hours.

It’s so much work, but I’m always happy when I get everything in the right place. Also, as I wrote this post, I realized that so many of the pieces I put out each year are from (or made by) family. That makes this time of the year extra special.

Next year, I’m seriously considering decorating in early November. I love my fall decorations as well, so I tend to keep them out as long as possible. November is a hectic month for me, but I do think it would be worth it to have fall decor out in September and October, and then have more time to appreciate the Christmas touches in November and December. We’ll see!

I will say that I always love a fresh start in January, and it’s nice having everything back in its place. That being said, I will also enjoy the twinkle of the lights and the cozy decorations for as long as possible.

Happy Holidays from our house to yours!

Posted in Books and Shows, Holidays, Not Just a Mom

Not Just a Mom: Holiday Movies

Hello! Happy Monday! How was your weekend? We had such a good one, but it was extra busy. Hadley had her dance showcase, Hayden had a cross country meet and basketball, we baked Christmas cookies and more!

I plan on sharing some of those details later this week, but first I want to say thanks to those who reached out checking on us after the storms, destruction and devastation in Kentucky and surrounding areas.

We had some major storms blow through, but the real destruction was to the west. I can’t imagine how those communities are feeling with so many lives lost. Those communities will certainly be in our hearts and in our prayers during this time.

Today, is our last Not Just a Mom post of 2021!

I’m linking up with these ladies to share our favorite holiday movies!

Before I get to that, here’s a look back on our topics for 2021:

  • Getting cozy/small comforts in January
  • Healthy habits and staying motivated in February
  • Favorite phone apps in March
  • Favorite family memories in April
  • Concerts in May
  • Quick family dinners in June
  • Home tour in July
  • Daily must haves in August
  • Morning routine in September
  • How we handle busy nights in October
  • Favorite small shops in November

Over the weekend, I actually saw these graphics by @ashton.creates about Christmas movies for each Enneagram type. I’ve shared her graphics before, and I love what movies she had for my 5w6.

Funny enough, we watched A Christmas Carol on Friday night. The kids are reading it in school, and I shared with them how my mom taught it to her 7th graders this time of the year for 31 years! I do enjoy this classic.

Sometimes I swear I might be more of a 6! Home Alone is one of my all time faves, and one I had listed for this post already!

Favorite Holiday Movies:

A Christmas Story:

We watch this movie every year on Christmas Day, and we are usually at my dad’s house when we watch it. It’s such a classic, and my kids love it too.

Home Alone:

Home Alone is probably my favorite holiday movie. We usually watch it a couple times during the holiday season. My kids often watch it in the car on long drives throughout the year too. They get a kick out of Kevin’s antics as much as I do.

The Holiday:

This movie is just so cute. I love the premise, and I’m always intrigued by the English village at Christmastime. The cast is amazing too!

While You Were Sleeping:

This is one of my favorite movies of all time. I always think of this as a Christmas movie because it takes place in Chicago in the days before and after Christmas. Sandra Bullock has always been one of my favorite actresses, and Bill Pullman is the best! Again, the cast is amazing, and I just love Jack and Peter’s family.

A Charlie Brown Christmas:

When the kids were little, we’d always watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. I’d always record it on the DVR, and we’d watch it when we had time. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ve watched it in a few years, but it’s such a good one!

We won the movie gift basket at Trav’s work party. It came with a few movies that I’m hoping we can watch over break.

I also want to watch the new Home Alone over break too. I know it’s just a part of the kids being older and busier, but I do miss having time to watch movies and carry out other traditions without having to plan “family fun.”

What are some of your favorite holiday movies? I can’t wait to see what ones others share!

Also, we have a new graphic and have planned our topics for 2022. We’re still hosting the link up on the second Monday of every month. We’d love to have you join us by linking up and/or reading our posts. Our first post for the new year will be on January 10th, and the topic is favorite bloggers.

I hope to post pretty regularly this week and then here and there leading up to 2022. I’m just kind of taking it day by day. Minute to minute sometimes! 😉

I hope you have a great week.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
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Posted in Clothes, Friday Favorites, Holidays

Friday Favorites {#93}

Hello! For some reason, this has felt like the longest week. School seems extra crazy, and honestly, home life does too. I’ve definitely earned my teaching and parenting paycheck this week. haha

I’m going to focus on the positives and link up with Andrea and Erika for this week’s Friday Favorites.

Here are my favorites from the week:

Coffee by the glow of the Christmas tree.

Beautiful sunrises.

I’ve caught two this week.

I did a Bath and Body run recently for holiday and winter fragrances. I picked up a few candles: Snowflake and Citrus, Iced Cranberry Scone, Winter and Frosted Cranberry.

Winter Citrus Wreath hand soap is perfect for the kitchen, and Twisted Peppermint is a favorite shower gel this time of the year.

Hadley had a Christmas chorus concert this week, and I loved it. The choir sang three songs, and then the orchestra and band played three songs each as well. It was a great evening, and we loved watching the performances.

I’m almost finished with my first December book. A Nantucket Christmas has been a cute read.

For the second year in a row, I’ve purchased these sweet Santa photos from Narci. Hayden and Hadley will wake up to this one in a frame this morning:

The sun room is one of my favorite decorated spots. I picked up the tree and the pillow covers last year. I’ve quickly learned a great way to decorate for fall and winter are with pillow covers. Pillow covers save so much space for storage during the off months. They quite possibly have also saved my marriage, so I don’t have to hear Travis ask, “Do we really need another pillow?” I just put these over my regular pillows during the Christmas season.

I ordered this sweater from Amazon recently, and I love it. It’s great quality, so soft, and the green color is perfect for this time of the year. I’ve worn it to school with black pants (pictured below), but I’ve also worn it with leggings too.

Our elf, Red, has been having a little fun:

Bonus Fave: Flashback Friday:

Trav’s work Christmas party reminded me of one of the times the kids met Santa when they were little at the same party.

Here they are in 2013…and just a bit hesitant.

And then there’s this one…from 1980 something…

I look a bit uncertain while my brother looks terrified. haha

Weekly Recap:

I’ve had a few posts this week. I shared about our festive and fun weekend, my Amazon purchases for last month, and then a look at our favorite Christmas traditions.

This Monday is our last Not Just a Mom link up of 2021. I’ve enjoyed joining these ladies each month to share about our NJAM topics.

Monday’s topic is Favorite Holiday movies. We’d love to have you join us!

I hope you have a great weekend. Ours will be filled with dance for Hadley, cross country and basketball for Hayden, and maybe we’ll have a bit more holiday fun too.

Thanks so much for reading.

{this post contains Amazon affiliate links…}

Posted in Holidays, Let's look

Let’s Look

Hello! I love writing posts this time of the year because they are so fun sharing about all things holiday related! Reading about how others spend the holidays, what traditions they have, what they bake, and gift ideas are just so special during the holiday season.

In the spirit of the season, today I’m linking up with Shay and Erika for this month’s Let’s Look.

I haven’t been as consistent with my Let’s Look posts, but this year, I’ve shared:

  • Coffee bars (my favorite coffee mugs) in January
  • Love languages in February
  • The perfect night in for March
  • Outdoor organization (I shared my outdoor space) in May
  • Meal planning in September
  • Thanksgiving menu in November

This month’s topic is favorite traditions.

We have so many traditions, and I always enjoy the extra time with my family during the busy holiday season. I hope my kids look back on their childhood and enjoy the things we did as a family in the spirit of Christmas.

The Christmas tree:

We’ve started going to our favorite nursey to pick out a tree for about six years. We used to always have an artificial tree, but after the last one went kaput, we decided to pick one up every year.

The Christmas Shop is always beautifully decorated and has so many options for great trees.

There’s usually hot apple cider and marshmallows to roast by the fire. The floral arrangements and garland are out of this world. Also, their Santa is the best!

Of course, another tradition is putting the ornaments on the tree. It’s always fun to look back on some of the ones the kids made as well as other sentimental ones. My kids know to look for special ones like our wedding ornament, their first Christmas ornaments, the Santa that my grandpa carved, and my ornament from my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Overby!

It’s always a special few minutes when we hang the ornaments on the tree.

Santa:

We make a point to see Santa every year. This year, I wasn’t sure if we’d see him or not, but there he was right in the middle of Union Station in Kansas City when we were there for Thanksgiving. Start about starting the holiday season off on a good note!

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Last year, was the drive by with Santa at our club.

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Most years, we see our favorite Santa at the Christmas Shop.

Again, as the kids get older, I guess this is a tradition that may not continue. But, if the opportunity presents itself, I guess you are never too old for a photo with the big guy!

Christmas parties:

Christmas parties are another fun tradition, but they vary year to year. We always try to go to Trav’s work Christmas party. Sometimes we gather with friends or neighbors for get togethers as well. We’ve also done cookie exchanges and favorite things.

We love celebrating with friends and family throughout December.

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Baking cookies:

We bake cookies every year. Usually, I just wait until we are out of school, and we bake a few cookies for Santa. We’ll share with neighbors and teachers too.

We typically do a sugar cookie, and then I always make the peanut butter kiss ones, and chocolate peppermint crinkle. Hadley and Hayden both help me, and now can even bake pretty independently on their own.

When we go to KC, we typically bake a few cookies with my mom, Gma, and aunt. Last year, my mom came to visit us, and we baked while she was here.

Holiday Lights:

I’ve shared before about growing up going to lights in the park, and once I moved to Kentucky, Travis and I made it a tradition to go to Southern Lights every year.

We also drive around and check out some of the houses in town that we know are always so festive.

Last year, we went to Mustard Seed Hill, and that was a really great experience too.

Christmas Cards:

We do Christmas cards every year. Hayden’s a big fan of this tradition. #sarcasm

The card is typically just the kids (and Homer!) because no matter how much I try to think we can get a family photo in the fall, it’s very rare to happen.

Thankfully, the kids dressing up and smiling has gotten a little easier through the years. I don’t feel like we get as many cards as we used to, so I know this tradition may be one that doesn’t hold year to year for all, but I truly love checking the mail in December and seeing what family and friends have been up to throughout the year.

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A few more traditions:

As far as traditions, we also buy for a couple of Angel tree kids every year. We always try to choose kids who are my kids’ age. You know I love Amazon, but I insist on us going to Target in person to have the kids choose the gifts. It’s such a meaningful experience, and very important to me that my kids understand the true meaning and spirit of Christmas.

I always buy the kids some Christmas pajamas for their birthday, and I love seeing them wear them throughout the winter months.

Another favorite tradition is taking the kids to choose gifts for each other. When they were little, we’d split up in Kid R Us and let them choose. We wouldn’t be in the car for two minutes, and they’d tell each other what they chose.

As the kids have gotten older, we try to find an evening when we can go get the gifts and then go out to dinner. Now, we even split up, and I take Hayden somewhere (like Bath and Body) to get a gift for Hadley while Travis and Hadley go to Dick’s Sporting Goods or a bookstore for Hayden. Then, we’ll meet up for dinner. We usually let the kids exchange gifts on Christmas Eve. It’s so special seeing them enjoy what they chose for each other.

Gift exchange in Christmas pjs

We also love the tradition of Christmas Eve service at church when we are in town to attend.

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? I can’t wait to see what others have to share.

See you back here on Friday for this week’s favorites. It will definitely be a festive Friday themed post.

Posted in Holidays, Weekend Top 5

Weekend Top 5

Hello! How was your weekend? We had a really great weekend full of festivities, Christmas traditions, and more!

Today, I’m sharing all about our weekend. It was fun and festive from start to finish.

After school on Friday, I stopped by Trader Joe’s to pick up a few things. I was able to scoop up a few of our holidays favorites. The mini Gingerbread people are so good as are the Candy Cane Joe-Joes. The Step Up to the Bar Snack Mix is one of my absolute favorite items this time of the year. Also, I only recently learned about Trader Joe’s candles. I’d already picked up the cedar balsam scent, but was excited to see this little three pack of mini candles. This set includes: fresh currant, cranberry pine, and nutmeg! Unfortunately, I missed out on Jingle Jangle (again!) this year!

This weekend, we continued with two of my favorite Christmas traditions. On Friday, we picked out our Christmas tree at our favorite place, and then on Saturday we went shopping for our Angel Tree kids.

Friday evening, we went to our favorite Christmas shop to get our tree. The atmosphere is so cozy, and I always love looking at the directions and stopping by the fire place.

The kids borrowed Santa’s sleigh for a few minutes.

Such a sweet little place!

So, while we were there, Travis and I got into a debate about what size tree we usually get. I thought we got the 7-8′ size, and he thought we typically got the 8-9′ tree. Well, they pulled out a really pretty 8-9′ one right while we were having our debate. We went ahead and got it. Once we got it home, I think we know who won the debate! haha

Thankfully, Travis is part lumberjack, and trimmed the top (and few other spots) to make it work!

Typically, we go Angel Tree shopping as a family, but with a hectic weekend, we divided and conquered when we had time. Hadley and I went to Target on Saturday, and Travis and Hayden will shop later this week.

I love watching my kids pick out the gifts for others.

I’ve never put Christmas decorations out so late, but I really didn’t have the opportunity all last week. So, Friday night, after I finished celebrating my “I told you so tree win,” ;), I decided to pull out all the decorations and get started decking the halls.

While up in the attic, Hayden saw the Christmas village that my Gma gave me years ago. I’ve used it a few times, but never found the right spot. Hayden was adamant that we put it up this year, and I realized the buffet would be a perfect spot. We chose a few of the houses and people, and I just love the glow. It’s the first thing I’ve turned on the past two mornings!

My coffee table is another favorite spot to decorate.

Then, I pulled out some of my winter dishes.

I’m sure I will share my other decor in a future post. It’s always so much work, but I’m so glad to be able to enjoy it all for the next few weeks.

Hayden had his first basketball game of the winter season on Saturday. He’s playing with most of his team from last year, and they had a great game. Hayden had a few points and too many rebounds and assists to count. It’s been fun watching him grow as a player so much (literally and figuratively!) over these past few months.

Travis is the assistant coach on the team, and I love watching them together. Hayden does a great job listening to Coach Dad.

low quality photo, but bottom right they look like twins…

Saturday night, we went to Trav’s work Christmas party. We had lots of fun, the food was great, and it was good to catch up with some of Trav’s co-workers.

The kids obliged for a photo.

…and then Hadley suggested we all get our photo taken with Santa. I’m so glad we did!

We won the raffle for the “Movie Night” basket which included a DVD player with streaming capabilities, three movies, Grinch mugs and candy!

Also, our elf arrived this weekend. I wasn’t sure if he’d make an appearance this year, but the kids started to wonder where he was now that it’s December. There’s no mistaking our elf…He’s been Homered two years in a row. Poor guy is on his last leg!

Since our elf is getting older, I’m sure he’s maturing and won’t have too many antics like in the past. Here are some of favorite elf antics:

Sunday was a great day, so it deserves to be a “Bonus”! We started the day with church, then I had a hair appointment (yay!). Later, the kids helped pack food boxes at church, and then we hung out with neighbor friends for an impromptu dinner!

We ended our day putting the ornaments on the tree.I think it turned out so pretty!

Over these next weeks, I hope to try to slow down and enjoy this holiday season. I know we’ll blink, and it will be Christmas Day.

This week is full of link ups! Prime Purchases, Let’s Look, and Friday Favorites.

I hope you have a great week.

Linking up with Heather and others!