Showing posts with label christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label christmas. Show all posts

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Eve & Christmas 2015

I love this time of year and  how the season becomes so much more when you have a 3-year old who just gets so excited over every Christmas light, story, and thing. When we were making cookies the night before and Sawyer was telling me how he was so excited for Santa to come, I couldn't help but feel almost childlike again. Kids just do something to the season that makes the spirit of it all just so much more.

The night before, my parents were in town and my Mom and I were able to get a little shopping done before our Christmas Eve service at church. Afterwards, we all took Christmas pictures in front of our little tree and went to church. Our church service was geared towards kids this year, so Sawyer and Rhett were able to join us for the service. The little kids sang carols and then put on a cute little play. It was a lot of fun and I'm so glad that we were all able to enjoy that together.
After the service, we went to a Christmas Eve party briefly before heading home to open up our Christmas pajamas and make some Christmas cookies. Sawyer was very excited and an awesome helper in the kitchen as we talked about this season and watched the cookies bake in the oven. After the kids were asleep, Z and I hung out and chatted. It was a really fun and peaceful night.

The next morning we actually had to wake Sawyer up--I think it's because we stayed up late making cookies, but I was not complaining for those few extra moments of sleep-- and Z videotaped him as he sprung out of bed and questioned why Santa didn't eat all of the cookies--he had 2 out of 3! We then opened presents and Sawyer graciously helped Rhett open his too. Poor Rhett was just so confused and amazed by it all. Sweet boy.

For Christmas breakfast, I made biscuits, a fruit salad, and a breakfast casserole. My Mom would always make something similar for us growing up, so I liked keeping that tradition alive.

After face-timing our families, we enjoyed a lazy day of watching The Grinch and playing with toys. The perfect and most magical Christmas.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas as well and here's to a happy and healthy 2016!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Christmas Traditions

For me, Christmas is a time of reflection, family and traditions. Its what we keep going back to year after year and the memories that we create from those experiences keep us laughing and reminiscing as the years go on. Some of my favorite Christmas memories growing up is looking at Christmas lights with my cousins. We would drive around our hometown and pretend to grade people's decorations based on creativity, abundance, and effort. It was a great way to get all the cousins together for a night of silliness and fun.

Since Z and I have started our own little family, we have tried to create traditions of our own. Here are some traditions that we do and some that we don't do, but I think are fun ideas.

Traditions We Do:

1. Watch Little Women, White Christmas and Have a Little Faith.
  (Have A Little Faith was made in 2011, so it's not an old tradition, but a movie I loved and have watched every year since. It's about author, Mitch Albom going back to visit his old Rabbi and at the same time getting involved in a local church. It's a goodie and one I highly recommend.)

2. Send out a Christmas card to friends and family.

3. Pick out a Christmas tree and decorate it.

4. Listen to Christmas music.

5. Set Up a Nativity Scene. (Full disclosure: we somehow lost baby Jesus!! Yikes! We are improvising right now, but need to remedy this soon.)

6. Make a visit to Santa and take a picture.

7. Go to the Botanical Gardens to see the Christmas display.

8. Make and decorate a gingerbread house. (This is actually a competition in Z's family between all the cousins. Everyone submits a video of their creation and his parents are the judge.)

9. Have Thai food on Christmas Eve. (Z and I were on our honeymoon in Thailand during our first Christmas together and we thought it would be a fun tradition that we remember that time together every year by eating some sort of Thai food on Christmas Eve. Usually, we have it for lunch and then a Christmas dinner with family.)

10. Go to a Christmas Eve service.

11. Make a birthday cake for Jesus and sing Happy Birthday. (This is Sawyer's favorite.)

12. Open family Christmas pajamas that you get the night before.

13. Leave cookies out for Santa and leave reindeer food out for his helpers. Our reindeer food consists of oatmeal and glitter that we leave out on the porch or backyard.

14. Have a big breakfast Christmas morning.

15. Open presents.

Traditions that Sound Fun:

1. See the Nutcracker.

2. Decorate Christmas cookies and bring them to a friend or neighbor.

3. Write a letter to Santa.

4. Get together with friends for an ugly Christmas sweater party.

5. Go caroling.

6. Make homemade Christmas cards and hand them out in a nursing home.

7. Make an ornament

8. Read the birth of Jesus from the Bible.

9. Go to a cookie swap.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Holiday Gifts for Little Boys

Christmas Toys for the Boys

For Christmas, we try to follow the 3 wise men rule. You get 3 gifts--something you need, something you want, and a surprise. For us, it makes Christmas simple, stress-free (at least when it comes to gift giving) and also helps us to remember the real reason that we celebrate Christmas. 

This Christmas will be so fun for us. Sawyer finally understands all of the holidays and gets so excited over them. He screams whenever he sees Christmas lights and exclaims, "Oh my gosh, I'm so excited! I'm so excited!" His excitement instantly puts a smile on everyone's face and for that reason, I'm just so, so, so eager for this holiday season. 

That is the biggest reason that we decided that we will no longer be traveling to see family on Christmas. I want Sawyer to throw open his door on Christmas morning and tear through his presents. I want to go to Christmas Eve service and afterwards have him open up new Christmas pajamas to throw on. I'm already planning all these fun things and Z and I are so excited to start our own holiday traditions even though it is a little bittersweet that I won't be doing that from my old childhood home any longer. 

But here are the gifts that we are getting the boys this year and some of the presents that Sawyer will be opening up on Christmas morn:

Land of Nod Sleeping Bag--We travel a lot as a family and I love that these can come with us wherever we go. A little piece of home on the road. Plus, they will be fun when the boys start to have sleepovers as well. 

Pottery Barn Duffle Bag--Sawyer got this last year and we use it constantly, so I had to get Rhett one as well. I love that it's monogrammed and that it can grow with them throughout the years.

Spanish for Kids--Whenever Sawyer gets screen time, we have the cartoons be in Spanish. The Spanish camp--and a few parents who are raising their kids bilingual--do this and we thought it was such a good and smart idea. I love this DVD series, so we'll be getting him another one from them to watch. 

Thomas the Train--Sawyer has been consistently asking for a train from Santa, so that's what he'll be getting as his surprise! This one can do wheelies and back-flips, so I'm hoping he'll love it. 

Rain for Roots:The Kingdom of Heaven is Like This--I've had several friends rave about this CD and say that its good for kids and adults alike, so I'm excited about that. This will be Rhett's little gift, but it'll really be a gift for the family. Right now, we have a CD that we've just about played out, so really looking forward to the change up. I mean, you can only hear Wheels on the Bus so many times. ;)

Baja Baby Night Night Lavender Body wash and Shampoo--I love this all natural body wash and will be getting this for Rhett. He needs anything he can get that allows him to relax at night. 

Christmas Pajamas--These are just fun and I guess break our 3 gift rule, but oh well! I love getting the boys matching pajamas and this year we got ours from Crystal Faye

Other things I loved: This kids water bottle and the kid's drum-set

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Morning 2014

This Christmas was really memorable. We had our old traditions like going to church at my parents, but it was also filled with new ones like throwing out reindeer food for Rudolph. I think the most important thing though was that we spent a lot of time with family, which is always the most important thing to me during the holidays. 

Our big gifts this year were a food processor for Z, a cuyana bag and smoothie maker for me, and a soccer ball, sleds, and a musical guitar for Sawyer. We also got a lot of things for the new baby, which was really fun and much-needed.

(Godmother visits on Christmas morning and then checking the reindeer food)
The following days were filled with family dinners, walks with my cousin and Aunt, and one night Z went on a beer tour with my cousin and Uncle. Lots of family time, which is good because I don't think we will see a lot of my extended family until my cousin graduates in May.

I hope everyone else had a wonderful Christmas! Z and I are now off to Mexico for a few days of R&R before a very busy next few months and a exciting 2015! 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Ways to Celebrate the Christmas Season

The first year Z and I were married, I wanted to make special traditions that were tailored just for us. Some of those traditions have stayed-like getting a new ornament each year-and some of gone to the wayside-like eating Thai food every Christmas Eve.

Now, that we have Sawyer and he is old enough to finally "get" what Christmas is all about, we really wanted to make this holiday season fun for him. Everyday we try to celebrate in some way, shape or form. Each day isn't a big thing. One day it meant making hot chocolate and listening to a Christmas station as we put away laundry or it could be bigger things like seeing Santa or going to an exhibit. But each day, I want to make it a point that this season is special, magical, and one that involves family and Christ.

I love whenever I see other blogs and websites that give Christmas ideas and activities, so I decided to include my little list as well. Some of the things are silly, but they are little memories that are quickly becoming my favorite. Also, let me know if you do anything fun over the holidays. I always love hearing new ideas, especially if it involves little ones, and maybe I can add them into our list this year or next.

{Day 1} Bought a chocolate advent calendar.

{Day 2} Bought and decorated our Christmas tree. Can't believe this is the first year we are actually doing this! Every Christmas before we just had a little fake tree that we set up, but this is the first year we actually went for the real deal and I'm so glad we did. There isn't anything better than the smell of a real tree.

{Day 3} Took the long way home-meaning I went up and down two streets in our neighborhood before turning into ours- and we pointed out all the Christmas lights and trees. Sawyer gets so excited whenever he spots a Christmas tree before me. It's too funny.

{Day 4} Had hot cocoa and listened to Christmas tunes on pandora.

{Day 5} Read a Christmas book before bed. It was actually a really great book and I recommend it if you are looking for a good and different holiday book. It's called the Littlest Angel  and apparently its a play too.

{Day 6} Bull Run Festival of Lights. We were going to do this next weekend, but it was so rainy and cold that we decided to switch up plans and do the drive-through festival instead. It was a really fun.  You pay $15 and drive through a festival of lights for about 30 minutes. At the end you are greeted by the Holiday Village where there are smores, a bonfire, hot cocoa, and yes, Santa! Sawyer got his picture taken and hated every minute of it. Poor guy. Santa even gave him a reindeer animal and peppermint stick and he still wasn't having it. Next year!

{Day 7} Botanic Gardens Christmas display. One of my favorite things about living in DC is all the free museums and exhibits. Today, we went to check out out the train and Christmas exhibit here and it was great. I loved looking at the DC monuments that were made out of bark or plant materials and Sawyer loved the trains, especially the Thomas. A bonus is that its so warm in there, so its great on a cold and windy day.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Staying Present This Holiday Season

I remember it all so clearly. I was lying in a clean, sterile room with people around me telling me to just relax and that everything would be fine. That it would all be okay. My husband was knelt down beside me and I remember we were in the midst of a prayer and hurried “I love you’s” when I heard the sound that would change my life. A baby’s cry. Then a collective sound of “awwww” by all the nurses and doctors in the room as they placed my baby, my newborn son, on my chest for the very first time.

I remember him being so tiny and soft and I foolishly thought that this time would last forever. But, of course, it didn’t. First he started to crawl and then he was picking himself up, falling down and learning how to walk. I remember asking time to just please slow down. To let him be little for just a while longer. But time didn’t listen and now that sweet little boy is a little over a year old. 

“Time flies” and “cherish the moment” have been phrases that I’ve always heard. It wasn’t until I became a mother and lost my grandmother that I really understood the power of those words and just how fast time really flies.  

It was also at this time that I realized how much I was distracted by the “to dos” and the technology of life that I wasn’t really focusing on and relishing each moment that came my way.  I admit that I looked at my cell phone way too much and spent far too much time worrying about what to do next-especially when I was in grad school- that I wasn’t in the moment and really connecting with those around me. 

I don’t want this to be a regret of mine. As my son grows up, I don’t want to miss out on the beautiful moments that are happening around me like watching him fall asleep after finishing a bottle or seeing the excitement spread over his face when he discovers a new toy or brushes his teeth-his favorite thing! I also don’t want to miss out on the mundane moments, the moments when the temptation to check my phone is the greatest like during the 45 minutes it takes to feed him sometimes and on the solitary walks to the grocery store.

Aside from that, I also don’t want to miss a connection with someone because I was worried about what would be for dinner that night or the pile of laundry that is waiting for me at home. I want to be better about looking someone in the eye, asking questions, and really listening to what they have to say.

If anything, this year and especially this season has taught me that life is so, so precious. It rushes by without warning and can be taken in a moment. I don’t want to look back and think, “I wish I hadn’t... worried about making my house perfect, cared so much about what people think, etc.” 

During the holiday season, things feel busied and rushed. Especially now that we are closer to family and actively trying to make new friends and a community here in Northern Virgina. We have presents to buy, parties to go to, cookie exchanges to attend, and family gatherings to drive to, but if you struggle with the busyness of it all like I do then this is a challenge to you too. Take time to figure out how to stay more connected. For me, this holiday season-or just more often-I'm going to leave my cell phone in my car when I'm going out with my friends or I'm just not taking it out of my purse. I want to focus on what I'm doing with my friends instead of checking the time, looking for a text, or seeing if anyone has called. I also instituted a house rule that my loved ones have to give each other a hug and a kiss every time they go. Life is never too busy to give a quick hug or say, "I love you" before you rush out the door. We also have a date night on Sundays. Z and I grab a glass of wine and talk about our week's schedules, fiances, us, and Sawyer. It gives us a time to relax and make sure those important details are touched upon.

These are some of the things that I'm doing and I hope you don't think this sounds preachy because I do NOT have it all together. There are countless times throughout a day that I fail to live up to the Mom, wife, and person that I want to be. But I would love to hear from you and learn what you do to cherish those around you and how to you stay present during life's little moments. I need all the tips and advice I can get! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Traditon: Christmas Letter 2013

Merry Christmas, friends! I hope everyone is having a wonderful Tuesday! We are having our first snow day today and it's so fun! I love not having a excuse or reason to get out of my PJs. :)

Now that I finally got all of our Christmas cards out, I wanted to share them with you! This year, we went with Mixbook and I love how they turned out. They remind me of the ones that we did two years ago and I think that's why we chose them. Z loved that design and said he wanted to do it again so he could remember all that that year entailed.  I agreed. I can't wait to look back on all the Christmas cards and reminisce with Z and Sawyer about where we were and what we did together. It'll be so fun.

Also, thanks to my sweet neighbor for coming over and taking our picture. I realized once I was doing our cards that there weren't a lot of pictures of the 3 of us. It was  either me and Sawyer, Zach and Sawyer or picture of just us. Thankfully, our neighbor saved the day and I love them.

(You can see past Christmas cards here and here)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas Traditions

I'm a big fan of Christmas traditions. After Zach and I got married, we spent our first Thanksgiving and Christmas talking about all the traditions that we wanted to start with our own little family. We kept a list and even though Sawyer is still a bit too young to enjoy or understand all of them, we are going to keep 'em going. Here's our list and we've added some this year thanks to Pinterest and a few creative blogs-looking at you, Colleen-who've given me some new and fun ideas.

Our List Right Now:
1. Visit Santa.
2. Decorate listening to Christmas music.
3. Make and decorate Christmas cookies.
4. Watch a tree lighting ceremony.
5. Build a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.
6. Adopt an Advent Angel.
7. Make a birthday cake for Jesus and sing Happy Birthday to him.
8. Decorate a Gingerbread house(This is actually a pretty serious thing in Z's house. His parents send all of his siblings a gingerbread house kit and they all compete over who can have the best one. It's really fun and connects us all even if we can't be together.)
9. Drive around and see Christmas light.
10. Drink hot cocoa and watch a Christmas movie with the family.
11. Write and send Christmas cards to family and friends.
12. Buy Christmas pajamas for the family.
(This was us last year)
13. Eat Thai food on Christmas Eve for lunch.
(We started this during our first year of marriage. We celebrated our first Christmas in Thailand and always wanted to remember the fun time we had and to tell our kids about it, so Thai food and Christmas it is!)
14. Attend a Christmas Eve service.

Things We Are Going To Start with Sawyer:
15. Make a snowman pizza
(My grandmother made us homemade pizza on Christmas Eve. She had a old family recipe and for years, that's what we had. I want to carry on that tradition, but add a fun twist and make snowman shapes out of the dough.)
16. Leave out cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer
17. Put out a Nativity scene. 
(I want Sawyer to know the reason for the season, so I'm on the hunt for a Nativity set. If you know of one, let me know!)
18. Give a Gift on Behalf of Jesus
(So, I really want to start this, but Sawyer is going to be too young for the next couple of years. What you do is you give each of your kids $25 for Christmas. This money has to be given away though to a charity they want to support or a cause they believe in. It teaches them that Christmas is about caring and loving others and not all about how many presents they got.)
19. Check out and read holiday books to Sawyer
20. Write a letter to Santa

And we also decided that we are going to do something a little bit different this year instead of give a lot of presents and gifts. I got this idea from a friend and I thought it was brilliant. I'll have to share it with you all later this week.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Christmas Day 2012

Christmas day was fun! We started off with coffee--much needed since we were still on West Coast time--and presents. Sawyer wasn't interested in it at all this year, but he DID get some pretty fancy presents that I think he'll learn to love as the year goes on. 

Waking up bright and early on Christmas morn! 
Some of Sawyer's gifts! My favorite was the wooden rocking horse that our neighbor gifted to him. I think it will look perfect in his nursery. I also loved the personalized stocking that his CeCe--my Mom's name for herself-- got him for when he celebrates Christmas at her house.

 Obligatory family photo and yes, as corny and as silly as it is, Z and I are wearing matching pajamas and next year Sawyer will get some as well. Thankfully, I have a husband who will humor me and go along with this idea.

Christmas night we had my Aunts, Uncles, cousins and grandparents over for dinner and gift-giving. Catching up  and seeing everyone made me thankful to be moving back to the east coast. Family time is one thing not to be wasted. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Christmas Eve 2012

We're BACK! 

After being gone for 2 weeks, we finally made it home late last night! And even though we had a blast back east, it really feels good to be back home and sleeping back in our own beds.  

Christmas Eve was really special this year. That morning, after standing in line for over 2 hours, Sawyer got to see Santa and sit on his lap! Even though, we were obviously excited for this photo-op, Sawyer was not. He slept through the entire thing. Oh well, next year! 

Afterwards, we went home to get ready for the Christmas Eve service at my parent's and Grandmother's church. 

 Heading to church on Christmas Eve.

Sawyer with the presents. 

Nana with her great-grandchild.

After a evening full of family, presents and homemade pizza (yup, thats how we roll on Christmas Eve!), we went home and slipped in our Christmas pajamas before calling it a night.  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Holiday Tradition: Christmas Letter 2012

Christmas cards are one of my favorite things about the holidays. I love getting them and I love sending them out. This year, since my family and I are on a budget, I combined Sawyer's birth announcement with our annual Christmas card. Sweet Lauren at Choosing Joy designed this for me and then I printed them off at Staples. The whole thing--plus envelopes--cost me $35 which is a lot less than last year's card. Plus, I think the quality is just as good and the design just as cute. Its a small way I'm saving money this holiday season, but still keeping our Christmas letter tradition alive.

Any tips on how you save money over the holiday season?

You can see last year's Christmas card here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Holiday Tradition: Junior League Home Tour 2012

Last weekend, I went with 4 of my girlfriends to the Junior League Home Tour.  This is one of my favorite traditions--it becomes a tradition after 2 years, right?--and I loved being able to kick off the holiday season with this event. This year featured four homes that were beautifully decorated by local interior designers. Being a home and interior design junky, I loved gawking over all the decorations and getting a peek into how others decorate. 

House 1: 
Loved this little girls room and how they made it into a pink winter wonderland.

House 2: 
This house was out of control. Not only did the owner have a skinned zebra on his office floor, but he also had a full gym, gorgeous pool and kids house for their four kids. Yes, you read correctly, the kids had their own house to entertain guests. Insane. 

The couple had four kids and this is the house used to entertain their friends. There was a loft upstairs, a movie theater in one of the side rooms, a great pool table and a 50s style kitchen with a cute breakfast nook. I wish you could see how large these kids were living. 

View of the back house from the gym.

The next two pictures is the family's driveway. Great for large, fancy parties.

 House 3:
House #3 was very clean and modern. It boasted artwork that has been featured at MoMa, heated floors, and a beautiful pool.

Awesome and fun way to display kids artwork. I will be doing this when we have a house next year and  start to settle down. 

House 4:
House 4 was very much my speed. It was modern, but with a mix of Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel design. I love houses where I feel like I can cozy up on the couch or where my kids can spill something and it be completely okay.

The one funky element was how they set their formal dining room. Very futuristic and not what I would have picked, but to each their own.

I loved the white couch and fuschia pillows.

Great outdoor space where I could see myself drinking a cup of hot cocoa while watching the kids play outside.

Touring these homes with my girlfriends and seeing how everyone decorated for the holidays really put me in the holiday spirit. So much so, that we went to the Christmas tree lighting that night--props to my husband for standing in the rain--then came home to watch Holiday Inn.  Yay for holidays and the traditions that follow. 

And if you are interested and need some more decoration inspiration, you can see last years Junior League Home Tour Post here

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