Category Archives: holiday

The Advent Activity Calendar: Year 5

This marks our fifth year of the Advent Activity Calendar. I love the tradition this has created. Rylee remembers it now and has asked for it for the last 2 years. Reese isn’t there yet, but when she got home from daycare last night and saw it all set up, she was super excited. And Lincoln? Well, as with any third born, he’s still just along for the ride at this point.

My plan was to get it all set up after the kids went to bed on the night of November 30, so that when they woke up December 1 it would be waiting for them. Alas, in true “World’s OKAYest Mom” fashion, it didn’t happen like that. But I DID manage to get it set up during my lunch break yesterday (working from home has such great perks), so it was waiting for them when they got home from school. On December first! So still a win in my book!


Being that this is the 5th year we’ve done this, I tried to mix in some new activities along with the standard favorites. I’m marking the new ones with a * in my list below.

Here’s the list of what we’re doing this year:

December 1: Make beaded candy canes. – Think pipe cleaners and plastic beads.*
December 2: Reindeer Games – Play pin the nose on the reindeer – a game kit I found at JoAnne Fabrics.*
December 3: Deck the halls!
December 4: Go shopping for the local food pantry. – Every year the elementary school does a food drive for our little community. I give each kiddo $10 to buy food.
December 5: Do you wanna build a snowman? – Decorate bedroom doors like snowmen.
December 6: Elf Yourself! – use a photo of your face/head and create a body/hat/etc to look like an elf*
December 7: Gingerbread Dice Game
December 8: Melt Snowflakes – remember those little plastic beads you melted with an iron when you were younger? Those.*
December 9: Giving Tree – choose a tag off the giving tree and shop for it
December 10: SANTA project shopping – SANTA stands for Sharing Among Neighbors Toy Appeal – another local community project. Each kiddo gets $10 to buy various stocking stuffers to donate to the program.
December 11: Go get a Christmas tree!
December 12: Decorate the Christmas tree
December 13: Make popsicle stick trees*
December 14: Winter activity book – whatever holiday themed activity book(s) I can find in the Dollar Spot at Target.
December 15: Preschool Christmas program!
December 16: Paint snowflakes – big wooden snowflakes I picked up at JoAnne’s.*
December 17: Family Christmas movie night!
December 18: Family baking day
December 19: Wrap Teacher gifts
December 20: Decorate a gingerbread family
December 21: Eat snowman pancakes
December 22: Read Christmas books by the fire with hot cocoa – we get a new Christmas book (or two) every year
December 23: Go look at Christmas lights
December 24: Write a letter or draw a picture for Santa
December 25: Time to celebrate!

It’s FriYay! – Pacific North WET Edition

It was a short work week… why do short weeks always screw with me so badly!? I can’t believe it’s Friday. If you remember last week, I was looking forward to planning our first camping trip as a family of 5! But now it’s raining and it’s supposed to continue all weekend. So we’re not going camping. Normally, I’d say let’s go anyway! But tent camping in the rain with 3 kids sounds kinda terrible.

Awesome things from this week…

1. Having an extra day to spend with the family! Sure it was 4th of July, but other than some really yummy BBQ food, it was just like any other day for me because I left the BBQ we were at around 7:30 to get Lincoln home for bed. Fingers crossed next year will be the year we’re finally able to drive one car and stay all together again!

2. It was fun having some friends stay with us on Sunday night. All the kids play so well together and it’s fun to watch Lincoln try and get in on the action with the bigger kids.

3. Monday night I spent some time purging my closet. ThreadYall is gonna get a clothes swap next week. Haha

4. Wednesday night my mom and I took the kids to an outdoor family-friendly karaoke night. The girls LOVED it. They sang two songs, “Trouble” by Taylor Swift and of course “Let it Go” from Frozen. Before we even left, they were saying they want to do it again.

5. The girls both let me french braid their hair this week!

Pics from the week…

Human bowling // Red Neck Waterslide! Oh yes. we. did.

Independence Day Kiddos! All of the heart eyes for this one.

Just Reese. In her truest form. So fiery. I love it.

My morning call buddy.

Karaoke ladies. Terribly quality photos (and terrible singing), but they had so much fun.

Like I said… my morning buddy. This particular morning he was trying to steal my coffee.

Things I’m looking forward to next week…

1. I would say our first camping trip as a family… but rain.

2. The girls have VBS next week. Rylee had SO much fun last year and Reese was so bummed she wasn’t old enough to join in.

3. Since we’re not going camping for the weekend, we’re talking about heading up to Portland on Sunday. We got a family pass to OMSI that we want/need to use and I haven’t seen my sister and nephew for far too long. After getting to see them on a weekly basis for 5 months it’s been really weird to not see them for the last month.

4. I leave Wednesday for ThreadYall! My annual girls weekend with my phone friends also known as TheThread. If you’ve been around here awhile, you know what I’m talking about. This year we’re headed to Raleigh.

Christmas Magic

The moment of Christmas Magic officially hit me this year. It came at about 10:30 PM on Christmas Eve as I flopped myself down on the couch after the last gift was assembled…completely exhausted. I pictured the look on Rylee’s face when she saw the pile of gifts under {and around} the tree. How she might react when she realized Santa had come. How excited she would be when she opened her “big gift” from Santa. I imagined how much Reese would enjoy playing with her gifts.

I thought back to all my years of childhood and how much I loved Christmas growing up. Right then is when it hit me.

My parents created this magic for me every year. And not just for me, but for my 3 siblings as well. I never once thought about it before that moment. But right then, I could picture my parents staying up late on Christmas Eve…filling our stockings, pulling gifts from hiding places, finishing last minute wrapping.

Now here I am, getting to create the Magic of Christmas for my kids.

Parenthood is truly a trip. And you better believe the very next day I made sure to thank my parents for all of their hard work over the years keeping that Christmas Magic alive.

*****

We scaled back our typical Christmas decorations this year because of a certain mischievous almost one and a half year old. I put up the Advent calendar for the second year in a row, though Rylee didn’t seem particularly interested in too many of the activities. I didn’t push it. We didn’t have our annual “Sisters Baking Night”. When it came to opening gifts, Reese wanted nothing to do with any of it. I think it was sensory overload for her.

Rylee, on the other hand is right at the perfect age for the Magic of Christmas. This is the first year she truly got it. She colored Santa a picture and rolled it up in her stocking for him to find. She left Rudolf and the other reindeer celery {we were out of carrots} and was thrilled to see that they were gone when she woke up Christmas morning. When she visited Santa earlier in November, she told Santa she wanted an iPod touch. At first, I thought there was no way in hell Santa would bring her one of those…then somewhere along the way, Santa had a change of heart and ended up reformatting my old iPhone; loading it with {free} games and some of her favorite music. Santa even left a little note typed out to read when she turned it on. We hardly took any photos, and we didn’t take any video but her reaction to all that is something I will remember forever.

Christmas this year was exactly what I was expecting, yet nothing like what I was expecting all at the same time.

Overall? The magic was there, and it was perfect.

*****

Our Nativity had a couple extras this year…apparently there was no room at the Inn for Mickey or Minnie either.

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Our tree after Santa came…one of 4 total photos I took the entire day with my “good camera”.

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Reese checking out her car…pretty much the only thing she wanted to play with…and ironically enough, the only gift that didn’t involve unwrapping something.

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Rylee showing her sister her new iPod!

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Us.

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Let’s Talk Christmas {Cards} – A Minted.com Review

When it comes to all things Christmas in my house, I have the following rules:

  1. No Christmas until after Thanksgiving.

Simple rule, right? Now that it’s officially after Thanksgiving I can let you in on a teeny, tiny secret…I broke my own rule. I started looking at Christmas card designs last week. I couldn’t help myself. And to be honest, I’m only a little bit ashamed because when Minted.com contacts you and asks if you’d be interested in reviewing their site, you say yes. YES! Right then and there. Then you start browsing all of their awesome holiday cards.

If you’re not familiar with Minted, they are an online stationery store powered by a global community of designers. I’ve been lusting over various cards on their website for quite some time and their 2013 Holiday Card Collection does not disappoint.

When it comes to Christmas Cards I have 2 rules {I know I have so many rules}:

  1. Must say Merry Christmas. {what can I say, I’m a traditionalist}
  2. Must contain at least one photo. {I’m apparently also a narcissist}

Here’s what I love about what Minted.com has to offer:

  • So many to choose from!– I’m not going to tell you how long I looked at all of card designs…1. because I lost track of time and 2. because I may or may not have been at work. At one point I had over 15 tabs open as possible keepers. I’ve since narrowed it down to three, but I never even looked at all of the options. They also have a ton of non-photo holiday cards to choose from…you know, if you’re not the narcissistic type.
  • Truly customizable– From the accent colors and scalloped edges to the paper weight and message options, you can do just about anything you want with each card design. Want to match the accent colors to the clothes you’re wearing in your photo? Totally doable. Want to make it a folded card to include your annual holiday letter inside? Done. You can even move elements around within the design.
  • Easy to use– You can upload multiple photos at once, you can edit them, you can customize every step of the way, previewing every change you make. It’s very straight forward. You can even upload the addresses of your recipients and they will address them for you!

And because I know you’re all nosey like me curious…here’s the three I’ve narrowed it down to…

 Screen shot 2013-11-29 at 4.30.11 PM  Screen shot 2013-11-29 at 4.29.59 PM  Screen shot 2013-11-29 at 4.55.13 PM

So which one did I decide to go with? Well wouldn’t you like to know. I guess you’ll just have to wait until you get yours in the mail to find out!

If you’re still in the market for some holiday cards…go check out the Minted.com selection!

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Disclosure: Minted.com provided me a credit in exchange for my honest review of their website and holiday cards. All opinions are 100% my own.

Yup. Thankful.

Holy crap just realized I almost missed posting today! I guess I got too caught up in sleeping in until 8 am, not showering until 11 am, cooking a perfectly timed and quite delicious thanksgiving spread ready at 5:30 PM sharp, then eating dessert and playing board games for the next two hours.

Today was unlike any other thanksgiving we have ever had we went exactly zero places and didn’t even have anyone over until after 5:00.

I think every year since I’ve been out of the house I’ve remarked how “that didn’t even feel like thanksgiving”. I don’t think anything will ever feel like thanksgivings from my childhood…maybe because I’m the one doing the cooking, maybe because of family dynamics, or maybe because it seems like we have a different plan every year. There’s no real tradition yet. Now that the day is done I can say that’s exactly how I felt again this year. But..There were people I love. Lots of good food. And plenty of laughter. That’s definitely something to be thankful for.