Unpacking, Putting Away, Getting Out

After our trip to WA to see my side of the family for Thanksgiving, we got back home last night after running into some unprecedented traffic. The girls did amazingly well. I always love getting back into Oregon. Climate wise, one could say that Washington and Oregon are pretty similar, but Oregon is always my favorite.

IMG_3110I detest packing, and I detest unpacking just slightly less. It is all done though, clothes put away, suitcases back under the bunk bed, mail sorted and opened. After conquering the dishes, Abrielle and I got the happy task of taking down the fall decorations and pulling out all the Christmas decorations. I know a lot of folks have already done this, but I’m a bit of a purist and I like Thanksgiving to have its day before I move forward with Christmas.

One of my favorite childhood memories is decorating the Christmas tree. We always had a real one growing up and I loved getting out the tinsel and the ornaments. My mom always had the delicate, glass ones carefully wrapped and she carefully hung those high on the tree. The less fragile ornaments were bulging out of a produce sack and were lovingly sorted through as my sisters and I grabbed for our favorites to hang them. I’ve always been a hodge podge Christmas tree kind of person, although I have admired many carefully coordinated trees as well. When you look at someone’s hodge podge tree, it represents a piece of that family. First Christmas ornaments, old family pictures, that one year with the salt dough ornaments. IMG_3109

Living in an apartment with space at a premium, our tree is a fake, two foot high tree. It’s tiny and charming and this year, really loaded with ornaments. Abrielle is more aware of this season than ever. She saw some Christmas decorations on some light poles and exclaimed today, “It’s Christmas outside, Mommy!” So here’s to the season!

I would love it if you took a moment to comment below and share how you decorate your tree!

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Thanksgiving Eve

When you have two little kids, ages 3 and almost 1 year, packing can take a long time. As in, I’ve spent the last 3 days working on it. We’re headed to my parents’ home for Thanksgiving weekend tomorrow.

When I was a kid, I always felt like the holiday season lasted so long, taking up a third of the year. In reality, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, it all lasts about a month and a half. It’s a whirlwind of shopping, wrapping gifts, preparing food, visiting family, and if you’re traveling…packing.

As we enter the 2015 holiday season, it (like each holiday season) means a lot of things to me…

It’s a time to enjoy special food when maybe the whole year has been a rush of bolting a meal and moving to the next task. It’s a time to recall the best memories of the year. It’s a time to share photos and savor the best parts of the year. It’s a time to reflect. It’s a time to let go of the hurts, betrayals and disappointments of the year. It’s a time to give thanks. It’s a time to celebrate friends and family. And best of all, it’s a time to thank God from the bottom of my heart that this life isn’t it. It’s not the end. It’s just a glimmer of eternity.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

5 Things to Do Before the Year Ends

At church our pastor said, “Only a few more weeks ’till Christmas!” Eek! It really is, and the end of the year will be here soon as well. Here are 5 things I need to do before the year ends.

Finish Alsea’s baby book. Ironically, I’ve done a better job keeping up on her book than on Abrielle’s baby book. Probably because I realized that no, you really won’t remember how old they were when they rolled over. IMAG0323

Buy a new calendar for the year. Amazon has a great selection of inexpensive and fun calendars for the year. We’re getting a Disney Pixar calendar.

Take Abrielle to the art studio. Some friends of ours kindly gave us a punch card for the Young at Art studio that is just 7 minutes from our apartment. I need to carve out some time to take Abrielle to create something.

Make a Christmas wreath. I have a fall wreath that a friend made me, but I would really like to make a Christmas themed wreath for our door. If things go as planned, this might happen at a girl’s craft night!

Make our biannual family photo album. I albumsused to scrapbook but realized I wasn’t enjoying it anymore and it was too hard to get it done with little kids. Now, I create an album online twice a year and order it. Easy peasy.

What things do you need to do before 2016 arrives?

Tradition! Tradition!

That’s a shout out for all you “Fiddler On the Roof” fans out there (of which I’m not one haha!). We’re coming into the season of traditions–fall traditions, Thanksgiving traditions, Christmas and winter holiday traditions. I feel like once you become a mom, you realize how completely responsible you are for any traditions that are going to occur. And it’s when you realize something about all those family traditions you enjoyed growing up. You realize that they were WORK for your mom. Or work for somebody (perhaps a father or grandma). Some adult took the time to plan and create a little magic in a format known as a tradition.

It’s a pretty intimidating task if you think about it. Your son or daughter’s childhood memories could very well be based on the traditions you decide to create. My oldest daughter is  three years old this year and I’m definitely feeling the pressure to start some traditions, partly because I feel the fun of any tradition is looking back on it and thinking, “Oh, we’ve ALWAYS done it that way.” As a child, you just enjoyed the tradition, but your mom had to put the work into making it happen! And now I’m the mom.

One of my favorite holiday traditions as a child was our Christmas Eve treasure hunt. Every Christmas Eve “for as long as I can remember,” my mom put together a treasure hunt for me and my sisters. There was always a prize at the end. We’d follow the clues through the house, into the garage, down to the basement and eventually claim the present at the end. One of my favorite years was the Christmas Eve where we each got a new matchbox car at the end. Mine was a purple, sparkly convertible.

Something that helps me feel less overwhelmed is to remember that it doesn’t take a lot to impress a young child. My holiday decorations or traditions don’t have to be expensive to be memorable. A few things we are doing this year so far to create some memories:

Pumpkin patch. This is easy because it’s free on the weekdays and I don’t have to do any work. I will always be keeping my eye out for free holiday events as the end of the year approaches.

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Decorating for the seasons and holidays. It’s the first year I’m putting some extra effort into this. It really does help create a festive mood. Dollar Tree and Goodwill are a great resource for inexpensive holiday decor.

Reading seasonal books and watching seasonal movies. Think library and Netflix. Can you tell I’m into free/cheap stuff? This year I’d like to invest in a few special Christmas books. I just haven’t decided which ones yet. Have any favorites? Share below in the comments!

Seasons

Fall is my favorite season of the year. I love seeing the leaves go from green to golden. I love feeling the muggy summer weather leave and the crisp coolness of fall take over. I love the pumpkin flavored things and nubby scarves. Right now however, even just looking at a picture of something pumpkin flavored makes me nauseous. And not because I’m pregnant. Because it’s spring, verging on summer.

That’s a long way to say, I love the different parts of each season…as long as they stay in their section of the year. For instance, Christmas is wonderful, but who wants to see a Christmas tree when it’s pool weather?

Pinterest is annoying in this way, because “pins” pop up that are not seasonally appropriate. I absolutely have zero interest in peppermint flavored cookies when I want pink lemonade. Come Christmas though, and pink lemonade will have lost its appeal.

An appropriate verse from Ecclesiastes, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”