Wednesday, December 17, 2014

baking up a kissable batch of cookies

I am amazingly less stressed this holiday season.  Maybe because I have given us permission to simplify.  We are doing a lot of amazon shopping to avoid the stores and over purchasing things we see and throw in the cart.  We have made two kinds of cookies so far...the kiss cookies I drag out.  Syd unwrapped the kisses one day.  We made the batter the next morning.  We let it chill and then made them in the afternoon.  Baked with love and patience.  

My mom gifted me a book with recipes she wrote in her own handwriting.  It is my most used and loved cook book.  Smudges and all. 

Today is a reheated cup of coffee fro yesterday to start the day and a new pot brewed at 10am.  Our holiday cards are in the mailbox with the flag up thanks to Charley.  Laundry was carried up by both boys...baskets to be unloaded today.   A playdate for little gal.  Lunch with a friend at the kitchen table for me.  And hoping to conquer wrapping and chex mix for the great great aunts and uncles in our life.   We are going NO WHERE except to bring the boys to school and to pick them up.  I am determined to accomplish what needs to be done with nothing else added. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Oh the games.
The games.
The "I have to go potty" five times before she falls asleep will end when she turns four....right?

Taking it all in...not taking it all on

A month that involves a lot of waiting.

Waiting to feel better. 
Waiting for holiday celebrations.
Waiting for Santa to come. 
Waiting for packages to arrive.
and this morning my girl...
Waiting for a friend to come visit.

It's Tuesday and I spent some time waiting this weekend and then was a little crushed when I put myself out there with my photography journey and then it didn't quite go the way I had hoped.  But I learned.  I was reminded that I need to slow down sometimes.  I learned so much about myself and was reminded that sometimes it is so easy to get swept up seeing what other people are doing that you lose your own voice or you get swept up wanting things that aren't even on your radar to begin with.  

This holiday season can get like that, too.  Last week I frantically made this advent calendar of activities for our family to conquer this season.  Grandma Charlie was here and saw me hurrying to get it done on December first so we wouldn't be behind.  A bunch of my friends were doing them and I got swept up thinking that I had to do one too.  We opened that first door that I strategically made do-able.  Syd was already in bed though.  So the "read three holiday books as a family.....well,  We hurried through two holiday books instead of three with two kids not three.  And we have yet to do another day and it is now...December 9th.  

The lesson....celebrate what others are doing, but know your limits.  Know what works for you or your family.  And instead of rushing to do what others are doing, be proud of what you are experiencing in life!  

 Did we all go get a Christmas tree?  YES.  
Did we watch a holiday cartoon?  YES.  
Did we decorate the tree? YES. 
 Has our Elf on a Shelf moved every night?  YES (well, he missed on night prior to December 1st so it doesn't count. haha).  
Did Ed and I have date night to get Christmas shopping done?  YES!  
Have we made a paper chain?  YES.
Did we order our holiday cards?  YES.
Did we make Christmas wish lists? YES.
Did St. Nick visit?  YES.

 Take in what is going on all around you...but, don't feel like you have to take it on.  Most likely, what you already have going on is what is right for your family.  And enjoy the wait!  The wait and the anticipation and the preparation for this season can be some of the best parts!    

Friday, December 5, 2014

Links I Love

It's been awhile.  I have really not been reading blogs lately but, I am trying to get back in the swing because they inspired me in so many positive ways and I miss it.  So here are a few of my favorites this week!

The show must go on.  But at what cost? by Brene Brown

Make like Elsa and "let it go"  by Lisa Jo Baker

Christmas morning caramel rolls by Girl with a Blog

And for a big laugh!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Some seasonal thoughts....

This is my favorite holiday song this year.  LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!

Henry is my child who is most excited about holidays and birthdays! 
He is pure joy and excitement.  He loves to remember and remind where things go and how we did things.  He is my reminder that this holiday for children is about tradition, anticipation, magic and joy.  The simple task of making a paper chain can be SO much fun.  So we made time for it.  

The magic of coming up with a Christmas list.  Circling things in catalogs, scrolling through the Amazon toy pages, and writing down his list.  This is what Christmas is about for children.  And we parents worry about greed and too much stuff.  BUT, with a heavy sigh, I also embrace the magic of making their little wishes, this one time of year come true.  

Charley's first big wish when he was a little tot was for this big red rocket.  And even though I knew it would probably sit not played was what came out of his little heart when people asked him what he wanted.  And he got it.  And I was right, it did sit.  But the magic of watching him open it was part of this season and this stage in life.  So Henry got the big plastic dinosaur toy...and I am sure Syd will get her big plastic toy that won't get played with.  

This stage when dreams are dreams and wishes are wishes and they don't think about the expense or the logic.  They are just in the moment.  And I now embrace it.  Because in the grand scheme of life, you are only little and able to dream at Christmas so freely for just a wee bit.  And then the magic becomes a little less magical and the logic of what one should expect for holiday gifts and how silly or extravagant or less magical it all becomes happens so quickly.  

So this Christmas Henry is busy making his list and it is just so much fun to hear what he wants...whether it is this big truck that can pull 2000 pounds, a robotic dog, or a globe.  These wishes come from his little heart.  And they are precious.  

The entire month of December isn't spent unwrapping gifts, shopping, or making lists.  The month of December is an experience of learning and growing as a giver and a receiver.  We speak of being grateful, appreciating what we have, giving to those who can't make their wishes or even their daily needs come true.   We celebrate family, tradition, and work to continue to instill an appreciation for all that this season gifts us.  

My children are now experiencing traditions that were part of my childhood.  The crazy "Santa gift" party with my extended family that can at times feel so ridiculous.  But they help me shop, fill out the fun and creative tags, they learn to give without being given credit because the gifts are given anonymously.  They learn to pass gives out and to wait.  They learn that this holiday tradition doesn't happen when we go to Ed's house.  It is a Grandma Barb and Grandpa Bob holiday memory.  Along with game playing, cousin time, holiday decorations at Grandma Barb's and more.  
Our Up North holiday with Ed's family offers other traditions that they learn don't happen at our own home or Grandma Barb's.  The Christmas tree that towers to the tip top of their A frame family room, a quiet gift exchange, the homemade egg nog, party mix, polish sausage on Christmas morning, and sledding in the woods.  

At home it's our tradition of decorating our Christmas tree with wild abandon.  They excitedly get their box of ornaments that grows each year.  They open it and talk about each ornament.  They amazingly remember who they got them from and when.  They excitedly load branches too heavy, the bottom to thick, and the top awaits the late hour when mama takes a moment to adjust things a wee bit.  Henry has been watching so closely these last two years hoping his box catches Charley's...even though we talk about how the boxes grow and that he will always be 3 years younger.  

And much of this just happens and becomes a part of them.  I used to stress about the traditions I wanted to have and start and I am realizing that a lot of it just happens.   The children remind us what we did the year before and slowly traditions are built.  

A child's Christmas is not about what the parents always want but, rather a respect of allowing our children to dream, wish, and believe in the magic balanced with instilling the life lessons of the season and an appreciation for family.  As a parent there is nothing more incredible than making their holiday wishes come true, seeing them excited for the simple little traditions, and teaching them how special and magical all of it is.  Because, when it all comes down to this month....  It doesn't really matter what we eat, give, receive, or do with our time and money.  What matters is that we can gather with those we love, fill our hearts and other people's hearts with the things that make life happy, and celebrate our ability to help make this time of year just a little more joyful for others in big and/or small ways.   And to do this without judging how other's choose to celebrate and live this season is the gift we can give each other.  Because whether you Pinterest it up, spend enough time at Church, donate your time or money, travel to see everyone, choose to skip holiday celebrations with friends or family, etc...the most important thing is that you do what is right for your family.

Love Is Christmas by Sarah Bareilles

"I don’t care if the house is packed,
Or the strings of light are broken.
I don’t care if the gifts are wrapped,
Or there’s nothing here to open.

Love is not a toy, and no paper will conceal it.
Love is simply joy that I’m home.

I don’t care if the carpet's stained; we've got food upon our table.
I don’t care if it’s gonna rain, our little room is warm and stable.

Love is who we are, and no season can contain it.
Love would never fall for that.

We sing oooooooooooooooo

Let love lead us, love is Christmas.

Why so scared that you’ll mess it up? When perfection keeps you haunted.
All we need is your best my love, that’s all anyone ever wanted.

Love is how we do, let no judgment overrule it.
Love I look to you, and I sing.


Let love lead us, love is Christmas.
Let love lead us, love is Christmas." - Sarah Bareilles

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

My Little Mary Lou

Her teeny tiny downhill ski gear is sitting in the corner here.  It finally arrived.  They had trouble finding her size, sigh.  So she doesn't get the pink ones she picked out.  They are blue.  And they are so wee.  And she talks about it.  The reality that my Syd will be conquering the slopes this winter has me a tad nervous.  

So I am going to enjoy this safe little quiet gymnastics class she is doing.  She is with just three little friends who she knows.  They are all quiet and in love with the half hour.  And we mamas sit and watch and snap pictures and sip coffee and talk while giving thumbs up over and over.  

Her teacher is sweet.  And the experience has been wonderful so far!  

I haven't blogged enough about this new school year that has mama and Syd adventure time from 9-4 everyday.  I am savoring it and still get a icky feeling in my tummy thinking of how far I have come with my photography and how badly I want to go back and capture them with all that I have learned.  So many photography friends are still in the throws of all their kids home for more time than they are away.  And I am just so jealous of that.  BUT, I only let myself have a pity party for a few moments.  And then I realize how each stage and experience in life has brought us to where we are today....

And on Monday mornings Syd finds herself on the balance beam.  Sure.  Confident.  And simply precious.  And I am there focused on her for those small moments.  


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