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! πŸ˜‚

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 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

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. πŸ˜†

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 πŸ˜‚

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! πŸ˜‰

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

Posted in Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites {#47}

Hello and Happy Friday! How’s it going? We’ve had a good week around here, and it actually felt like winter! We are back in a school groove with only a few evening activities, and we’ve been enjoying the holiday season so far.

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

Favorites from this week:

Angel Tree:

Purchasing gifts for families on the angel tree is one of our favorite family traditions. It’s fun to let the kids pick out gifts for the kids on the list. As a family, we sponsored a boy and girl and then Hayden and Hadley’s pod also bought presents for a family as well. Of course, I try to instill in the kids to always be grateful and always help those in need…not just during the holidays.

Black Friday Discounts:

I’ve never been a Black Friday shopper, but we took advantage of a sale at a local retailer once I saw that our weather was taking a turn to the colder side early this week. Hadley’s coat was 50% off and Hayden’s was 30% off. My kids know I love a coupon and a discount. I tell them they should never purchase anything full price. πŸ˜†

Candles:

After picking out the kids’ coats, I made a stop in Bath and Body Works and picked up some holiday season candles. They had buy 3, get 3 free, so I picked up two hand soaps, two 3-wick candles, and then 2 single wick candles. On my way to the register a nice customer handed me a coupon for a free single wick candle, so I ended up with a third candle! I was very appreciative.

I always pick up the ‘Winter’ candle every year. It has such a clean and fresh smell. I love it so much.

Running Buddies:

The weather was warm enough on Sunday for a run, and I looked out the window to see Trav and Hayden stretching after their afternoon jog. They looked like twins! Homer didn’t get the invite for the run!

Turkey Rice Soup:

We usually use the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving for soup on the Friday after Thanksgiving…but I didn’t end up making the soup until Sunday. It was the perfect Sunday night dinner.

SnOMG:

Monday and Tuesday mornings we woke up to snow! I knew there was talk of colder weather and some precipitation, but I was still surprised to see measurable amounts of snow both mornings.

We got those Christmas lights up just in time!

I usually make snowman pancakes on the first snow day of the season. With virtual school for the foreseeable future, I’m not sure we’ll get a traditional snow day any time soon. So, I went ahead and made snowman pancakes for the kids on Monday morning.

Tuesday’s snow stuck around for a couple days and was enough to play in. The kids dressed accordingly for recess at the pod and then Hadley played with her friend in the snow for a couple hours after school. Hayden did as well, but he was nowhere to be found when I wanted to take a snowy pic!

Homer:

I found Homer on the couch all snuggled up on Tuesday afternoon. Both kids swear they didn’t cover him with the blanket, so who knows! Homer is either into trouble or snoozing! There’s rarely an in between.

Starbucks:

I made not one, but two trips to Starbucks this week. I wanted something warm to drink, but I’d already had my morning coffee; so, I ordered a London Fog tea during both visits! So good. I enjoyed them from the quiet of my classroom.

Winter Decorations:

Over the weekend, I put out our Christmas decorations. I couldn’t help myself, and I did make a trip (or two) to Michaels. I use most of the same decorations each year. This year, I actually did take the time to get rid of the fall decorations I haven’t used in recent years and will do the same when I put these winter decorations away in January.

I picked up two of these crock lanterns and put tealights in them. I also purchased four snow covered swags for our front windows and a few other items. Of course, everything was 50% off and teachers get an additional 10% off all their orders, so I used that as well.

I purchased the basket with wreath at TJ Maxx.

Christmas lanterns // swags

The Return of Red:

Red doesn’t come until December in our house, and he made his arrival right on time on December 1st. On the second night, he left the kids their “Want, Need, Wear, Read” list to fill out, so he can report back to Santa.

He filled in a couple of “needs” for them πŸ˜‰

GG:

My mom is in town visiting and took over virtual school yesterday. With over 30 years experience teaching 7th grade English we knew the kids would be well supervised.

Favorite gift idea:

I debated on sharing this as to not give away a gift for a few family members, so I will just share this sneak peek.

Every year since my kids were born, I’ve ordered this desk calendar from Vistaprint for my immediate family. I always place the order on Cyber Monday because they offer a great discount. Once my brother and sister-in-law had their kids, we started to include their photos too.

I upload the photos (and we use the same pattern of January is a pic of my kids, February includes a pic of my niece and nephew and then some months, like October, is the four kids) I placed this order late Monday night, and it already arrived yesterday! As usual, it turned out perfectly, and we can’t wait to give it to them. (I even order one for myself and my brother’s family)

Like I said, I’m sure my family is expecting this gift. It’s one I love giving, and they love receiving.

Selfies:

Found this gem on my phone, and it made me smile!

Friday Funny:

Y’all, I feel this deeply. haha

My brother decided to remind me this week that I’m almost 41. Wow…40 has gone by quickly!

Favorite Mom Meme:

Tis the season for my kids to think we are millionaires πŸ˜…

Weekly Recap:

Looking back, I sure shared a hodge podge of faves from the week. All things considered, we had a pretty good week. Now, bring on the weekend!

Thanks so much for reading, and don’t forget to check out the other ladies’ posts too!

Take care,

Posted in Holidays, Traditions

Tis the Season!

Well, Thanksgiving was already a week ago, and we are in full Christmas spirit in my house. We’ve taken Christmas card photos, picked out our tree, decorated, welcomed our Elf back from the North Pole, and even had our first snowfall of the season!

Today, I’m sharing the details of our decking the halls and Christmas cheer so far this holiday season.

Starting with…this meme…

It cracks me up. I’m either watching a holiday baking show or Ozark. My tv watching goes from G to rated R real quick!

I mentioned in Monday’s post that we were pretty busy on the Friday after Thanksgiving. One of our errands was stopping by our favorite place to pick out the Christmas tree for our living room. The weather was perfect for wandering around to find just the right tree. Well, technically the kids each found a “perfect” tree, and had to rock, paper, scissors over which tree we’d bring home. Hadley won.

This is also the place we usually go to see Santa. Unfortunately, Covid is cramping Santa’s style this year! I know there are probably other options, but this Santa is our fave, and I guess for now, we’ll have to live with this very 2020 Santa experience. (or lack thereof)

Y,’all, this Santa really is the best!

A few Santa pics through the years…

Top: 2017; bottom left: 2016; bottom right: 2019

2020:

I’m assuming my kids won’t be “believers” for much longer, so I actually did tear up taking this pic. As the years pass by, I do miss the innocence of having little ones and seeing Christmas through their eyes. They are still excited for the holidays, but it’s just different than when they were little.

Travis strung the lights on the tree Friday night, so we could decorate on Saturday morning before everyone got busy.

I put any leftover ornaments not used on the living room tree on the artificial tree in the sun room. I think this is our fourth or fifth year getting a real tree for the living room. Last year was the first year we put our older artificial tree up in the sun room, and I’m glad we did that again this year.

We now have a total of five trees up in the house.

  • The kids each have a small tree in their rooms.
  • We have the artificial tree in the sun room.
  • The real tree is in the living room / office area.
  • and… I (Trav) moved my new pencil tree to our bedroom.

Then…we had to have a talk with Homer about behaving and not taking oraments off the tree.

“Who, me?”

He looks innocent, but last year he had a real knack for #Homering nostalgic ornaments and family heirlooms. πŸ˜‚

I was hoping we could trust him because for the month the skinny tree was in the sun room, he didn’t bother a single ornament. But…within an hour on Saturday, he’d already taken three ornaments off the living room tree. So, I moved most of the ornaments up higher (even though he can still probably reach some), and now our tree is decorated like it was in 2010-2012 or so when we had two toddlers!

On Friday, I also had the kids dress up, so I could take pics for our Christmas cards. I always think I will have my act together in the fall for family photos for our cards, but that never seems to happen.

The last time we had a fall family photo for our Christmas card was 2014…

This year, the kids were adamant we bring Homer again for the photo, so I decided to head back to where we had our 2014 family photos, the Henry Clay Estate. I knew we’d have space to walk around and would be able to keep our distance from people and enjoy the beautiful weather.

When I saw the bench, I knew I wanted to have the kids sit there again, but later noticed they put their hands in the same spots they did for the photo years ago.

This was a very how it started…

how it’s going…

moment! πŸ˜†

I will share our Christmas cards (and photos that made the cut) when they arrive. I always order from Shutterfly and take advantage of the Cyber Monday deal they always have.

And…to really keep the spirit alive, Red, our elf, arrived on Tuesday morning. My kids were panicking a bit because some of their friends’ elves arrived after Thanksgiving. I told mine that Red was probably still in quarantine before safely entering our home (just kidding!) Really, I reminded them at Red doesn’t show up until December first, at the earliest!

When we were talking about our elf’s return, Hadley did ask how long the elf will visit. I said, “Well, I guess as long as you believe.” She said, “Well, shouldn’t you always believe?” It was the sweetest and something I need to remember for the next 20+ days πŸ˜‰

Upon Red’s arrival, he brought the book that we’ve had since 2012. We know he’s our elf because he has the book and a few years ago, he glued a cotton ball to his hat, and the residue has been there every since. Also, last year Red was #Homered, and his torn hat and bandaged hand proves that the right elf came back to our house from the North Pole.

I know these holidays are going to be different (and I’m tired of saying that!), but I’m thankful some traditions remain: decorating, Christmas tree picking, fussing at my kids for pictures, and the return of Red are only the beginning.

I hope your December is off to a great start! See you back here tomorrow for a hodge podge of Friday Favorites.

Take care,