Linking up with In The Moment With.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas celebrating the birth of Jesus and spending time with family and friends. I am on day 2 of post-Christmas-meltdown with my kids, and unfortunately I also caught the cold they had over the holidays. Needless to say, both kids are napping and I am sitting in a quiet living room with my hot tea going through pictures from Christmas. And–we still have one left on Sunday!
Christmas Eve is always spent with my parents, and every year we have chili and baked chicken sandwiches. It’s what my dad’s family always did, and this is probably one of my favorite traditions. We also snack on a meat and cheese tray and ALL of the goodies we made the week before–peanut butter balls, fudge, divinity, 4 flavors of hard candy, peanut clusters, butter brickle, and caramels. YUM. It’s hard to stay out of, but I think I will be glad when it is gone. My mom helped Brayden decorate a plate for Santa’s cookies, and they made some cutout cookies for his place. Such a cute tradition to start.
We did gifts after dinner then packed up all of our new loot. Jamie and Eric got Kenley the Disney Princess castle and it has been a HUGE hit. She loves it. It is so cute to see her playing with it. Did I mention I love having a girl? My brother, sister, and brother in law surprised me with a beautiful coat that I had been wanting from a local boutique, and my mom gifted me the Pandora charms that coincide with the kids birthstones. Love. I also received new wooden spoons and spatulas, another adorable coat, and new Pyrex dishes! I love that my mom is practical.
Christmas morning was spent at home, just the four of us. This is my second favorite tradition! I love getting up with the kids Christmas morning and exchanging gifts with just US. Brandon surprised me with new Ugg Moccasins, a beautiful dress/tunic, Starbucks gift cards, and an apple peeler/corer/slicer. I have always wanted one because I am AWFUL at peeling anything–and I think deep down he really just wants me to attempt to make pie!
After we all were ready, we headed to Brandon’s moms house for Christmas with her and Brandon’s brothers. Poor Brayden and Kenley were fighting colds, but they held their own and there were minimal meltdowns. If only I could say the same for the amount of snot. Sheesh! I feel like all I did over Christmas was wipe snotty noses. BUT– I am thankful it wasn’t worse. We had a great afternoon there, ended up with LOTS of Minnie Mouse things for Kenley, a Cars airplane and Nerf basketball set for Brayden, and new sheets for our bed! WOO!
After that, we stopped by Brandon’s grandparents house (secretly I only wanted some cookies!) and then headed home to crash. Such a busy few days, but we are truly blessed.
How was your Christmas?
Merry Christmas, everyone. May today be a day filled with family, memories, and most importantly, thankfulness that the Lord sent his Son to this earth to save us.
This week for the Third Thursday Blog Hop, we are talking about ways we give this time of year. As far as Christmas gifts go, we buy for our parents, siblings, niece, and a few friends. We set a budget per person and usually do pretty well staying within that budget. Brandon and I usually buy for each other even when we say we aren’t going to. I love surprising him with something on Christmas morning! I get Brandon’s grandma’s their favorite box of chocolates, and I always love shopping for my friend Jacqui. I send little gifts to my friends that live far away to let them know that I am thinking of them this time of year. And I am always sure to send out Christmas cards to family and friends.
But giving this time of the year stretches more than just gifts– we set aside a day to bake holiday goodies/candies, and we will split them up to take to other family events or to give away. When we go out to eat, I sometimes leave a bigger tip for the waiter or waitress (something my mom does this time of the year also!) and as a kid I remember getting to choose a secret Santa from a tree and buying for another boy or girl. I hope that when my kids get older, that we will do this as well. It was always so fun to choose something for someone around my age!
Most importantly, I try gifting my time. Spending time with family and friends during the holidays is something I look forward to, even when it isn’t the easiest thing. I love Christmas Eve at my parents house– us all gathered for chili and hot chicken sandwiches–definitely my favorite holiday tradition. I love setting aside Christmas morning for the 4 of us, and just being able to soak each other in. But mostly, I am thankful for the reason for this season, which is Jesus. Because of him, I get to share in these precious moments and reflect on that day so long ago, when he was born. He is the ultimate gift. I hope you all get to enjoy the peace that He brings this time of year!
I won’t lie. A week ago? I was being like Scrooge. I just wanted the Christmas season to be over–when life can slow back into a normal pace. I didn’t want the Christmas tree up, I didn’t want to decorate, I didn’t even want to shop for gifts anymore. I just wished I could blink and it would be over.
I’m a ball of fun, aren’t I?
The stress of it all plus some other goings on around here just left me frazzled. In my head, all I could see was Kenley destroying the tree, having to redecorate and rewrap gifts– and I just didn’t see the point in adding ONE more thing to do.
Until last week–Brayden came home from school and promptly told my sister that they made ornaments at school, but there was no tree to put his on.
I decided in that moment that I better find some Christmas spirit, even if it was hard to find. Because the magic of Christmas through the eyes of a child is an incredible thing to behold.
So after our new kitchen floor was put in on Wednesday, we put the tree up. And outside lights. And stocking on the mantle. Brayden loves looking at other people’s Christmas lights and loves turning the tree on, both here and at my parents house. We have read Christmas books about Baby Jesus and the shepherds and his favorite song currently is Jingle Bells.
And on Christmas Eve night when I am rocking my babies to sleep by the light of the Christmas tree, I will be sad that the magic is almost over. But thankfully, Jesus came to this earth on that night many years ago, and because of Him, I get to experience the magic through my children’s eyes.
As the holiday season approaches, I can’t help but love the magic and wonder that comes along with it. But also? It’s a LOT going everywhere to see everyone during the holidays. After Brayden was born, I had the WORST anxiety, so holidays are harder for me. But over the past few years, they have gotten slightly easier and more manageable– so here are my tip for surviving the holidays with toddlers.
ONE: Don’t set yourself up for failure.
Having gatherings that coincide with my kiddo’s normal schedule rarely happens– so just try to be prepared. Make arrangements as best as you can to fit their needs. I try to let the kids rest before we go anywhere, if we have to drive, we leave close to nap time so they can sleep on the way there, and I am sure to pack plenty of toys/games to hold their attention until it’s time to go. Early bedtimes are pretty frequent after holiday gatherings!
TWO: Pack food you KNOW they will eat.
Brayden is a super picky eater–hit or miss with this one! So, I always pack snacks for him to have in case he isn’t wanting to try any of the holiday food! (He HAS been branching out lately– so I am hoping he will do better this year!)
THREE: Involve the kids.
Nothing bothers me more than when the adults are sitting around lounging and the kids are getting ignored. Yes, we all want to escape and have adult conversation, but the kids will last much longer if they are engaged and involved with the adults. Let them pass out silverware (carefully), let them show you their new toyss, or help them with their meal. If they are getting restless, take them outside (weather permitting) for a few minutes to burn off some steam.
FOUR: Create Traditions
One of my favorite traditions that I started when Brayden was a baby was getting him new Christmas jammies to open on Christmas Eve. I have since continued that tradition with Kenley, and hopefully when they are a little older, it will be just as fun for them as it is for me. My favorite tradition as a kid was driving around one evening looking at all of the Christmas lights on people’s homes– maybe that will be something we start for our kids! Whatever it is, make it special and meaningful so they will look forward to it year after year.
FIVE: Be Flexible
As I was discussing this post with my dear friend Tricia, she included this prompt– be flexible. And I think this is probably this MOST important! Kids are unpredictable, amen? So be ready to roll with the punches, go with the flow, and be able to tend to their needs accordingly. One thing I learned when I was really struggling with my anxiety was that I was setting my expectations WAY too high for events, and then when it didn’t go exactly how I envisioned? It was almost crippling. Learning to lower my expectations and be more flexible helped me get through the holidays without working myself up!
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! I hope your day is filled with family, food, and fellowship– we have so much to be thankful for.
We had a wonderful Easter holiday- albeit, busy! Saturday, Kenley got her 6 months photos done by my friend Laura (they didn’t go so well, so we did part 2 on Monday) and then just us 4 adults went out for dinner! With no kids! JUST THE 4 OF US! This has never happened in all the time I have been friends with Laura- and we had a TON of fun. We were only gone for about 2 hours, but it was much needed by all of us!
On Easter, we do the Annual Petersen Egg Hunt- this year, the money egg was $70. Wouldn’t you know, the hubs won. He doesn’t share the egg money, either. Mom hid a few eggs for Brayden at her house, so he got to look for those. He wanted more- but as it turned out, he wasn’t much help in the adult egg hunt! Grandpa hides them too well! We all ate too much food, dessert, and Easter candy, and the kids were wiped- but it was a fun day! Next year, I am going to do baskets like my mom always does for us and do a little hunt in the house. I am already excited!
But the most important thing about Easter was that Jesus rose on the third day- He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed!