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, 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 β€œBonus”! 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!

Posted in Holidays, Monthly Musings

Monthly Musings

Hello! How’s your week been? I’m so happy that it’s Thursday. We are so close to the weekend!

Since Thanksgiving is next Thursday, Patty and Holly are doing their Monthly Musings link up today, and I’m joining them!

This month’s topic is: Holiday Preview 2021

1. Share your favorite holiday traditions:

We have so many favorite traditions like:

Seeing Santa,

attending Christmas parties,

and baking cookies.

We also go to the Horse Park lights, shop for the Angel Tree, and I hold on to the time honored tradition of mothers making their kids dress up for Christmas cards.

2. Do you see any holiday lights? Driving tour, park, festival?

I’ve shared before that as a kid, most holidays seasons we drove the park lights. Once I moved to Lexington, Travis and I started that tradition as well by going to Southern Lights at the Kentucky Horse Park. The only year we’ve missed since 2004 is 2009 when we had two one month olds!

There’s also a house in Lexington that a must to drive by.

Then, last year we went to Mustard Seed Hill for the first time, and it was a fun experience.

3. Favorite holiday recipe?

We do lots of baking around the holidays, but Shay’s Peppermint Mocha Bundt Cake is my fave! I make for dessert for our Christmas dinner at home every year.

4. Must have holiday fashion staples?

I’m not much of a fashionista, but I love a plaid shirt!

2018

5. Any special or extra festive plans this year?

I don’t think we have anything extra planned. We are pretty good about traditions, but we’ll see what pops up in December.

6. Best holiday planning tip?

Make a list and check it twice! As far as gifts are concerned, I started keeping a note on my phone for gift ideas all year long. Also, last year was the first year that I shared an Amazon list with family for ideas for the kids. That worked out nicely because once a gift was purchased, it was taken off the list.

7. Favorite holiday movie?

I love watching Home Alone. I have on my list for us to watch the new Home Alone (Home Sweet Home Alone) at some point in December or even after the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

As a tradition, we always watch A Christmas Story on Christmas day. I can’t wait.

8. Die Hard…Christmas movie or not?

I’ve never seen it, so I have no clue! Randomly, when I was watch Love Hard last week, this was a topic in the movie!

9. Tree/decorations up before or after Thanksgiving?

I will let this recent picture speak for my answer!

Really though, last year was the first year I put up the pencil tree in November. This year, I put up two pencil trees, one in the sun room and one in the living room until we get our real tree after Thanksgiving.

I do try to decorate for Christmas the weekend before Thanksgiving because it takes so much effort. That being said, I’m not sure if I will meet that goal this year as this upcoming weekend is proving to be a busy one.

2020

10. Do you celebrate other holidays in December?

No, but my kids went to a pretty diverse elementary school, and during those years, their teachers would do units of study on other cultures and holidays. I always loved hearing my kids share what they learned during that time.

I love the Monthly Musing link up. I can’t wait to see how others answered too!

See you back here tomorrow for a very special Friday Favorites.

Posted in Currently

Currently

T-minus two days until Winter break! Per usual for this time of the year, I feel like we’re hanging on by a thread over here! I always say…”Tis the season…for mom to lose her mind!” πŸ˜†

The weather went from beautiful to soggy and dreary in a matter of a day! I think that’s making us all feel extra tired and just ready for a break!

Today, I thought I’d share a quick Currently post about what’s been going on around here!

I’m currrently…

Appreciating:

Travis! He gave Hadley and me this Mary Kay 12 Days of Christmas gift set. I have two friends who sell MK, so he purchased one for Hadley and me as well as one for each of his sisters (and their daughters). Travis has always been a great gift giver! Also, Hadley has already opened all 12 days! πŸ˜‚

Giving:

Teacher gifts! We gave the pod teacher a gift card to one of her favorite local stores. Then, the kids dropped off gifts for their teachers yesterday at school (front office). I’d had these zip pouches saved on my Etsy app as an idea for teacher gifts. They turned out so cute, and I put some sticky notes and felt tip markers in each one. The kids each wrote a card to their teachers, and those notes are always sweet and fun to read. I was happy to support small businesses during this holiday season.

Loving:

The generosity of others! This time of the year tends to bring out the best in people, but I feel like people have been extra generous in 2020.

From food drop off for God’s Pantry, clothing donations, Angel Tree gifts, and dinners for families in need at school, I love seeing the community come together to spread joy and happiness in such a trying time for so many.

Watching:

Baking shows! Like last month, I just love to watch these holiday baking shows on the Food Network. I enjoy them like some people enjoy Hallmark movies!

Reading:

Two books…I’m currently reading Holidaze on my Kindle and 25 Days ’til Christmas from the library. I usually have one Kindle book and one paperback book I’m reading. I’m enjoying both of these books, and they are certainly sweet Christmas books to read in December.

Supporting:

UPS workers! Travis did the shopping, and Hadley helped me put this basket together for our mailman and the other workers dropping off packages. I printed the sign from Etsy! (only 99 cents!)

Reminiscing:

About the kids looking out window in 2011. I love when this picture pops up in my Facebook memories, and I loved those pjs with their names on their bottoms.

Prepping:

The final touches of Christmas for our elf. He moves every night, leaves little sayings on our sign, gives little gifts, or just does something silly. He likes to have a plan for his visits!

He always leaves a bag of Reindeer Food: oats, glitter, and this cute poem for the kids to find the morning of December 24th.

Feeling:

Like Homer…so tired πŸ˜‚

Laughing:

At this meme…

I know the postal service is overworked. I saw someone share a photo of a process room at a post office, and it was slammed.

My Christmas cards that I ordered on November 30th finally arrived yesterday. According to tracking, they’d been in Kentucky since December 9th, so I tried not to lose hope that they’d arrive on my doorstep! I was afraid I’d have mark out, “Merry Christmas” and write “Happy New Year!”

I guess it still might be a good idea because who knows when I will get them out or when others will receive them!

So, there’s a little glimpse of what’s been going on around here. See you back here tomorrow for my last Friday Favorites post of 2020!

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 πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ˜‰

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 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…) πŸ˜‚

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.

Posted in Holidays, Not Just a Mom

Not Just a Mom: Shop the Holidays

Hello and Happy Monday! How was your weekend? I feel like our weekends lately have been lopsided with a very busy Saturday followed by a more relaxed Sunday.

The kids had state cross country meet on Saturday which took up most of the day. Sunday, per usual, we did laundry, I picked up groceries, and we kind of regrouped for the week ahead.

Travis is super busy with work right now, so he gave me back his Super Dad cape πŸ˜‰ Seriously, when I think back to scheduling my surgery, we got so lucky with the October 14th date. It gave me just enough time to get back to my normal routine before he got busy with work. I’m still needing a daily nap and do feel worn out some days, but I’m glad to be back in a pretty normal groove.

Today, I’m linking up with Lauren, Ashley, (and others!) for their Not Just a Mom series. Today’s topic is: shop the holidays.

This meme always cracks me up.

November and December are always slammed for us with sports and school, the kids’ birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and all the other fun activities and traditions that come with those holidays. That being said, I know things will look differently this year for all of those things.

To be honest, it all can be too much. Having to give ideas for birthday and Christmas to so many relatives in such a short amount of time can stress me out a bit. Even when I figure it all out, I still have to have ideas to the kids from us and from Santa.

Through the years, we’ve pared down who we purchase gifts for at Christmas, but, again, it’s still a lot to organize when adding holiday stress and birthday stuff too.

This is the point of the post where I’m asking for advice. πŸ˜‚

I do know it’s a blessing to have family near and far, traditions to continue, and we still see the joy of the holidays through our kids’ eyes…so I usually just take it day by day and list by list.

Birthday

I know the kids’ birthday isn’t an actual holiday, but it’s first on my list right now with it being in just a couple of weeks. For their birthday, I really do try to stick with the idea of “want, need, wear, read.” This might sound crazy, but I don’t really ask them what they want for their birthday…at some point they’ve probably shared what they “want,” and I just fill in the blanks for the other gifts.

We always get them a book and Christmas pjs; they probably end up with 5-6 gifts each when it’s all said and done because I pick up an extra thing or two along the way.

10th birthday breakfast

I also like the idea of giving the kids an “experience” when possible. When they were little, we bought tickets to Sesame Street Live. In the second grade, Hadley was begging to get her ears pierced, so that was one of her gifts which was so fun for her! The past couple of years, I purchased tickets to our favorite cookie decorating class for Hadley and me which is always fun.

Christmas

Trav and I usually just focus on the kids at this point. I typically buy what I want when I want it throughout the year…Travis is shaking his head “uh huh” as he reads this. πŸ˜‚ …so I never feel like I “need” anything. That being said, we usually end up having the kids pick out something that’s from them to us…and Travis never follows the rules and usually gets me something I’d never expect.

For example, his brother took the kids’ pictures a couple of years ago, and he surprised me with a couple framed faves. Of course, this brought tears to my eyes! He is a thoughtful gift giver.

We purchase family gifts for my mom, dad, grandma, and Trav’s mom. We also purchase gifts for my brother’s kids. Since it’s just the four grand kids on my side, and they are still little, it’s fun to get them a gift or two.

Our elf, Red, visits and always leaves the “want, need, wear, read” paper. I found this online years ago, have it saved, and just print it each year. I do love this tradition because it does give ideas that I can pass on to grandparents. Red takes the paper to the North Pole the next night after they’ve filled it out.

Of course, they also share ideas with Santa when we visit him. I’m not sure if that will happen this year. At our house, Santa’s gifts are unwrapped and left near the fireplace or tree.

When I was a kid, stockings were always my favorite to open, and I think my kids feel the same way. That’s probably where I end up going overboard. πŸ˜† I just pick up little things here and there: Chapstick, socks, underwear, nail polish, scrunchies, shaving cream, a card game, candy and more is what my crew typically finds in their stockings.

Christmas 2019 gift exchange

I also love our tradition where the kids choose a gift for each other that’s from them. It’s always fun to see what they pick out and give to each other. We usually let them open it the night before Santa comes.

One year I tried to buy all of the gifts in November, but I wasn’t 100% successful in that endeavor! I do at least like to start making a list in November and get organized.

I try to support local small businesses as much as possible as well as shops on Etsy. Target is typically is my “go to” place for the kids, and Amazon has certainly eased the shopping stress the past couple of years.

I will say and they’ve started to ask questions about the elf and Santa. Hadley’s the inquisitive one and Hayden still seems to believe. Of course, I cling to their innocence, but know that they are at the natural age to start wondering. To be honest, in second grade, they had tons of questions, and I really thought that was going to be the last year. I’m thankful all of that subsided, and we’ve had a few more Christmases of pure innocence.

So that’s how I shop the holidays. What about you?

Next month’s topic is special holiday traditions.

Don’t forget to check out the other ladies’ posts! I hope you have a great week.

Posted in Holidays

Christmas(es) Wrap Up and Elf on the Shelf Part 2

Happy day after Christmas. I hope you had a wonderful holiday with your loved ones.

Our Christmas routine was a little different this year. We usually write a note to Santa for Red (the elf) to deliver asking Santa to come a few days early since we usually go to Louisville to see Trav’s family and then on to KC to see my family. This year, we decided to stay home rather than go to KC. I rarely miss a Christmas there, but having some down time at home was needed and we were just there for Thanksgiving.

Anyway, my brother and his family were going to KC, so we had a Cousin Christmas before they left. We had them over on Saturday night for apps, lasagna/salad/rolls, and then cookie decorating.

Hadley helped me set the table which I really appreciated.

FYI–friendly reminder that social media life is made up of filters…I’ve been using Ellery Designs filters that I purchased on Etsy from LouMarks Photo, and they certainly brighten up most photos!

We just buy gifts for the kids, and they are always excited to open up the gifts!

After dinner, we decorated cookies. There are so many talented cookie decorators in town, and I tried a new one…8 cookies with icing and sprinkles for $15 from One Smart Cookie.

They had fun decorating with minimal fighting over the icing and sprinkles!

Every year, we make a calendar for family members, and we always get a Christmas pic for December. Now that the family members have received their calendars, we can share these pics that we snapped all the way back on December 1st!

All the kids are getting so big!

On December 23rd (Christmas Eve Eve), we went to Louisville for Trav’s family Christmas. Here are all the cousins and Trav’s mom.

On Christmas Eve, we headed to church. After church, we drove and saw a house that goes all out on their lights, and then came home. Once home, the kids got in their pjs, exchanged gifts they picked out for each other, and put cookies and milk out for Santa. Then, they went out in the front yard to sprinkle reindeer food, so Santa could find his way!

Christmas morning, the kids were up at 7:00. Hayden was up first and then woke up Hadley. We opened presents, had breakfast, called family to wish them a Merry Christmas and hung out. Santa brought Hadley a bike that she was dying to try out, so we took Homer for a walk while the kids rode their bikes. The 60 degree day was perfect for bike riding and walking Homer.

For dinner, I made my first ever ham, and we had green bean casserole, twice baked potato casserole, and rolls. Then, for dessert, I made Shay’s Peppermint Mocha Bundt Cake. So delish!

While we missed seeing our KC family, we had a nice day and evening at home.

Elf on the Shelf Part 2

After I posted about what our elf, Red, has been up to, Red was #Homered. Hadley screamed so loud, I thought Homer either brought another dead bird in the house or he had Red. Well, he had gotten ahold of Red. Hadley cried and was afraid he wasn’t going to be able to fly. Hayden remained calm. haha. The next morning, they were pleasantly surprised that Red’s elf friends helped him feel better.

Red also played Hangman, got stuck in a lantern and decorated it with stickers, drew on our family photo,and left snowmen donuts for breakfast.

The last few evenings with Red, he left the reindeer food, the book The Night Before Christmas and then sat in the tree, so he could watch the kids open presents on Christmas morning.

Side note: when we had the cousins over, Hadley made the board say “Merry Christmas.” I’m just now noticing she left out the “I” haha

It’s always nice for Red to pay a visit and keep tabs on behavior, but I’m sure he’s always happy to head back to the North Pole when Christmas is over….especially for the fear of being #Homered again. haha

I’m going to enjoy the Christmas decorations for a couple more days, and then it’s time to get the house back to normal.

I hope you had a great Christmas. As always, thanks for reading!

Have a great day,

Jen

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