So much of our home is static and doesn't change...but the kids' room needs to change and grow with them. We're about to be on the 3rd bed(s) and 4th set(s) of bedding in 5 years...luckily, I bought duvet covers that match the existing blue and orange--you're welcome, Daddyboy!
It's time to give the kids their own spaces, and I'm so excited! Here's a sneak peek:
Every year after Christmas we get energetic and attack an area of the house. This year we started before Christmas in some of the closets, etc. It felt good! Since last spring, we've been wanting to work on the kids' room...face it, we're not moving anytime soon, so the one room needs to work AND give both of them some private space. And we're working with a limited (read: nonexistent) budget. Daddyboy and I have kicked around several ideas and options, but a few weeks ago I found something that just INSPIRED me. So, today's the day: the kids don't know it, but today is the day we start moving toward their new & improved room. Goodbye clutter, hello...organized clutter?
Every year we open one present on Christmas Eve...new pajamas. I've had a friend make pajamas for the kids the past couple of years to match our Nick & Noras, but this year I found the kids' sizes in matching pjs. James and I didn't have matching ones, but I wasn't stressed--I figured one year wouldn't hurt. Kayci picked out a pair of Ralphie pajama pants for Daddy, and since she got those I let Noble pick out a pair of pants for me while we were out one day. I wasn't really excited about them, but I *was* excited about everyone else's, so I was fine with it. But when I opened up the box that I'd wrapped them in, I found the Nick & Nora Santa pajamas I'd been wanting for a while. James and Kayci conspired to surprise me--how sweet! :) What a fun way to start Christmas!
This is Fred. Fred is the pony Noble will NOT be receiving tomorrow when we get to Ronny's house. I'm not sure how this is going to go over, as Ronny has convinced Noble that Kayci can just move out of their room and Noble can share his (now it's just his) room with Fred.
I just never know what's going to happen when Uncle Ronny & Noble get on facetime...
*If this is a copyrighted image, please accept my apologies.
I love all of my new friends, but there's something to be said for our old friends, too...the people who knew us back when, and still love us anyway. :) This weekend we had the chance to celebrate our old friends' daughter's 1st birthday--just a note, the kiddo never cried or fussed or melted down during the party...a 1st birthday first for us! We had a great time seeing everyone, and I was really excited about our gift. When I saw that it was a Mickey Mouse-themed party, I decided to use the design I created for Layla's birthday, and put it on a pink onesie. I wasn't sure what the rest of the gift would be...and then when I went into my favorite local shop, they had those cute tulle skirts. But, not in her size. So I talked to the lady and she hooked me up with a sewed-elastic band...and I went home determined to make my own. It was surprisingly easy (although I learned several lessons!) and fun. I think I'll be making more of these. In fact, Kayci and I made one for her angel costume on Sunday, too! We used a softer tulle for that one, and I'm thinking there's a reason you need the stiffer tulle. But, it was very pretty and looked all feathery and floaty and ethereal, so, score!
Since I missed yesterday, here's a second favorite thing: that super hero king. Noble was determined that a wise man would dress as a super hero--this costume is a compromise. All the other boys were wearing the typical wise men/shepherd costumes...and Noble wore this. And carried a gold brick. Over the past several weeks we had several fun conversations about his costume--I think his brain just stuck at "dress up" after the ladies at church told them they got to dress up for the Christmas program. Now, I didn't have to go out and buy him a super hero cape, and I could have forced him to dress like I thought a wise man should look. But I wanted to honor his idea, and I cleared it with the ladies at church who were in charge of the kids' program and they were fine with it. It could have been funnier, I mean, worse, if I'd let him wear the mask that he wanted to wear instead of the crown. :) If you want to see video of the kids singing (and maybe one of the kiddos pokes the baby Jesus, don't want to give it all away)...go see James' post on our family blog.
Today is the big day--we're taking the kids to see Santa! Just pray there are no big revelations, like the year Kayci was 3 and told Santa that all she wanted was a doll we'd never even heard of before. :) I suspect you'll be seeing pictures tomorrow...
Once a year, we put the kids in the car with hot chocolate (in pjs is my fave!) and head out to check out the lights of Brenham. Pecan street is still tops--and last night they kicked it up still another notch and had Santa passing out candy canes! I think it's awesome that they do that for the kids. :)
I'm not Superwoman; I'm not going to get EVERYTHING done. Weeks like this, I have to keep telling myself that while I'm prioritizing and re-prioritizing and trying to fit in as much as I can without driving myself (or my family) crazy. I'm not going to lie, I'm task-driven, and I love checking things off my list. I love getting things done, especially when I'm challenged with lots of things to do. This week, I've gotten a lot done but left a lot undone, too...which is why, once again, I'm up early to grade (of course, grades are past due, now...sigh. Looks like I slipped up on the prioritizing!). My house is a wreck, too, if you're counting. :)
But every once in a while, I get it right. I am most happy with myself when, in the midst of all the things that need to get done, I can stop and enjoy the little moments with my knuckleheads--it's not their fault their Mommy is an overachieving nerd.
Yesterday was one of those times...I won't go over my whole day (that was an earlier post this week), but it was a busy-crazy one. And I had to go to Region 4 to run a quick errand (that totally benefited me, I won't lie!). I was stressed about Galena Park stuff that I really needed to do and I really wanted to make it in for our big department gathering...but I didn't. But I did make it to Region 4 in time, and afterwards I took the kids to Target for a few minutes to pick up a couple of things. And, I knew after a busy day it would be a reward for them. Little did I know we'd be distracted getting in the door....
...and getting back to the car.
But they were so happy. I was happy, too, and I snapped a couple of pics to share with Daddy. We have thousands of pictures of our kids (yes, literally), but pictures like these are my favorites...the little moments that I absolutely cherish. Part of the joy comes from the fact that just for a while, I put aside my selfishness and my to-do list and my drive and just LIVED with my kids and made the time count instead of just trying to get through.
Every day matters.
And every day, I'm so grateful to have another shot to get the balance right. Or better.
Today, I'll have my work done before the kids wake up (God willing!). Other than a couple of errands, this day is about them...and I can't WAIT!
And my house will still be a mess tomorrow, if you want to know the truth. I don't stress about it too much because I trash it this week every year and James is used to it (August, May, and December, Boy-o...I know, I know).
Probably the only thing I love more than GIVING gifts is MAKING gifts! (I can't stand giving gifts for the sake of giving gifts, though...I like to give stuff that I want to give and the person WANTS to get...but wait, that's a different post...)
Anyway, today was our MOPS ornament exchange. I tried, girls, but I couldn't find a $10 ornament that I was just crazy about. So, I punted--I bought some unfinished signs at Hobby Lobby last Christmas and I had planned to use them for teacher gifts this year, but I never got inspired. Yesterday, when I was in the final stretch for this ornament exchange, I got inspired!
I decided to make a Christmas countdown chalkboard, thinking surely other Moms would like that as well as an ornament. I bought some chalkboard paint (I was out, can you believe it?) and some white vinyl and got busy. This really doesn't take as long as you think.
First attempt: it started sprinkling while the signs were outside drying. Dang it. I brought them inside, and in the process got this one stuck to the paper. Double dang it. No worries, though, I turned it into a one-sided sign and gave it to Heather and the boys as a happy yesterday. (Austin was born today, that's what that sign means!!! Kayci was troubled that it said "1 dayS", but hey, it's gotta work for every other number, too.) I really like that shape...next time I think I'll move the words over to the left a bit more to leave more space for the 'til whatever and less space for numbers. Discuss.
Second attempt: I think I nailed it!, as Noble would say. I really wanted a cross on there someway, and I like the way this one contrasts with the rounded font.
For the back, I added some shapes..figure they could be any season or decor.
I wrapped it up with two new boxes of chalk, white and colored. Here's the rub: that awesome ribbon it's wrapped in? That's supposed to be the hanging ribbon...but I didn't realize until the end of the project that the pre-drilled holes were too small, and I was in a hurry. Next time I'll have James fix that so I can use pretty, wide ribbon. That color, those stripes...sigh!
I just have to tell you, seeing these pictures still makes me happy--I'm very proud of this project!
I love this time of year...and I hate the way it makes me feel, all at the same time. Try as I might to be more organized and more proactive, everything seems to pile up all at once. Work stuff, volunteer stuff, it doesn't matter--it piles up. You are all in the same boat, I know. So, here's the past 24 hours, by the numbers:
*Not pictured, for PTO:
-over Monday and Tuesday, Heather and I processed 700+ books that the PTO will give out this week.
-500 Capri Sun pouches counted, sorted, boxed.
-42 bags prepared for Capri Sun pouch recycling
-I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot. It was just a normal amount of volunteer work in a very abnormal week.
For Noble's Christmas party:
16 reindeer craft kits
16+ servings of reindeer food
16+ bags of reindeer noses
~50 reindeer cookies
16 containers of homemade playdough, each bagged with a cookie cutter & a printed/cut gift tag
5 "big" teacher gifts
8 "medium" teacher/staff gifts
17 "small" teacher/staff gifts
20 AWANA happies
6 AWANA leader happies
For James' food day today:
-food trays I intended to create? 1.
-prefab food trays I bought at WalMart instead? Sigh. 1.
T-shirt orders today: 4! (Seriously!)
Gifts purchased while I ran errands this morning in between party and prep: 10+.
Assignments graded? Um, less than 50.
Miles commuted to work? 0 so far.
Of the two major work tasks I have on my plate this week, # completed? 0.
Hours of sleep last night? 4.
# of happy kids in my family today? 2.
Is it all worthwhile? Yes.
Do I wish I was less...Kristi...about it all? Definitely.
Will I go to bed happy tonight? Of course!
Will I do it all over again next December? Geez...
So...last year we went a bit overboard with the pumpkins. I'm embarrassed to admit how much we spent. Suffice to say, it was enough that we were going to get our money's worth out of 'em! So, when it was time to decorate for Christmas, I stacked them into snowmen and painted them white. It was a lot of fun, and I was actually sad to take them down in January. Well, this year James got the bug...he even asked some friends of ours if we could have THEIR pumpkins. And some nice pumpkin fairy came and left a bunch on our porch (thanks, pumpkin fairy!)...I suspect because we're the only people around with pumpkins outside after Thanksgiving. Well, yesterday James and Kayci got started. I can't wait to see the finished product! All I know is that this year there are a few different "scenes" going on in our front yard and there will be Christmas lights involved somehow. :)
Bitty started taking piano lessons this fall; today was her first recital. She played beautifully, and I am so proud of her. It's obvious she's got some natural talent, but I think what makes me most proud is how hard she works at it. The kid puts in the time at the piano, and never complains about practice time. She has a wonderful teacher (we love, love Jana Foster!), and it's all been a great experience so far.
I love slightly crazy Christmas trees. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing pictures of y'all's perfectly coordinated trees, but that's just never been my thing. I like trees that tell a story.
Here's Kayci's. Hers is a mix of her favorite colors and ornaments she's made and just random stuff she likes. It looks so cute with the lights on, but it's daytime, so...
And here's Noble's tree. Yes, he insisted that he have the pink one this year. And yes, he does have a primary and gold plastic tree topper that lights up...with a paper plate angel tree topper on top of said tree topper. What's that? Why, yes, that is a mix of dinosaurs, jingle bells, all things sparkly, and pink glitter ornaments...
And our family tree...Kayci asked me the other day if people would think our tree is crazy because it doesn't match. I said, probably. And I told her that when she grows up she can have any kind of tree she wants...but our tree tells the story of our family, and that's the way we like it here. BTW, it really did feel taller before we brought it home. Oh, well. :)
I am a recovering neat freak...and if my Boy is reading this right now, he's laughing out loud as our house has been in quite the state for too long to even mention.
I'm sitting here and it's chaotic, sure, but as soon as I sweep and mop and we finish our Christmas decorating and move all of the tubs back to storage...it will be clean and neat again. The clean is coming.
And I can already picture what it's going to be like later tonight after the kids are in bed and I get to sit on the couch with my Boy and just enjoy the view of a clean, Christmas-y house.
Just don't look in any closets, drawers, or cabinets, y'all.
My favorite part of decorating for Christmas is getting out the ornaments and telling the story of each one. Well, telling the story of MOST of them while the 3 year old asks for the next one and the next one...
Like James told the knuckleheads last night, those ornaments tell the story of our family.
This year Daddy said they could BOTH put the Angel on the tree.
Every year it feels like the Christmas season REALLY starts around here with the Christmas Stroll and Parade. This year it was on Friday night (I love it when it's on Friday night!), and we all had a blast. Daddy wasn't in charge of the Germania float this year, so that meant the 4 of us didn't have to be there until right before the parade started and that right when it ended, the 4 of us walked off together to go find our family and get hot chocolate (not that we needed anything hot...it wasn't cold outside at all). Usually parade days are a bit more stressful than that, so this was a HUGE blessing. And yes, the float was AWESOME, as usual!
The hardest part of the parade for Noble has always been waiting on the float...but I guess because he's older, this year wasn't too traumatic for any of us. :) And Kayci...Kayci opted to sit on the opposite side of the float from us with a friend. That was a first, and I was reminded once again that she's growing up. Sunrise, sunset...
If you missed the parade, you missed a great time! We're grateful that Adam, Peggy, Emily, Jhido & Nahia made the trek to Brenham, and we enjoyed a little time with y'all after the parade. And I was grateful to have a reason to clean up our WRECK of a house just in case y'all came over afterwards. :)
Ready to go...one of us is grumpy about something. The rest of us don't really care.
When Kayci was 2, Jhido came in from Washington for Thanksgiving and he and Adam spent the holiday with us. We had Thanksgiving at Ronny's and then headed to Fredericksburg for the weekend. That was the first time James and I had been to Fredericksburg since our weekend trip with Jennifer and Steve when Madi was a baby--it had been a while! Anyway, we absolutely LOVED Fredericksburg all decorated for Christmas, and we had a great weekend even despite James' food poisoning (completely unrelated to Thanksgiving at Ronny's, of course). Looking back at pictures of James, Jhido and Uncle Adam at Enchanted Rock, I can't believe how Adam has grown up in the past 6 years--he's grown into a wonderful young man. But he was just a little boy a few minutes ago, it seems...
The next year was our first year in Brenham. Kayci was 3, and we decided to make a big weekend of it again. After Thanksgiving, we headed for the hill country. And again, we had a BLAST! This time, as we were driving through Marble Falls we noticed the lights by the lake and decided to check it out. We had such a great time, and I'll never forget Kayci's conversation with Santa Claus that year (that was the whole, I want the Dora with the thing you push on her forehead and her hair grows)...legend has it, Santa was already done shopping that year but he was able to find the very. last. Dora. doll. in the Brazos Valley for his Bitty. Phew.
And so it went--we went to Fredericksburg and Marble Falls the next year, but not her 5 year old year (Grandpa was sick, it didn't feel right), and then the next two years we didn't even get a hotel in Fredericksburg but just stayed in Marble Falls. This year, we didn't have the budget for a hotel room in Marble Falls or the patience for Fredericksburg (it's just gotten too, too crowded Thanksgiving weekend, so we're going to make that a spring trip for peach ice cream from now on), so we decided to just drive over to Marble Falls after our Friday Thanksgiving dinner at Ronny's. Good thing, since it rained on Saturday, when we'd planned to go!
This year was wonderful, even though it was a fairly quick trip. We got to share it with Ronny's kids, which is always a good time. The Walkway of Lights, if you've never been, is low-tech by today's standards, but it's just beautiful down by the lake. We love to stay in the La Quinta up the hill and look at the lights from our balcony, but that's another year...
Here are the kids--we love these knuckleheads like our own. I'm so grateful (probably another post!) for all of the time we spent with them when they were little. Ronny and Amy were great about always inviting us to church and school stuff and just having us over, period. And the kids have spent...gosh, I don't know how many nights with us over the years. They've been such a blessing to us!
We weren't sure about Noble and Santa (kids, don't read--Kayci doesn't believe this guy's the real Santa, and she never has. It's okay to talk to Santa's helper sometimes, though). Noble was okay, but it turns out, neither of our kids has a Christmas list this year. Guess Santa gets to wing it!
I was a little worried that Kayci's too big for Santa...turns out, I didn't need to worry. I love that girl!
Keely took our picture. I don't know if you can tell, but it was warmer than usual...my hair was HUGE. :)
And finally, the cousins...I think they're smiling because they know Starbucks is next on the agenda. But maybe they're just smiling because it was fun, and a special experience to share. I hope so. But the Starbucks was good, not gonna lie.
Thanks for going with us, big kids--we had a blast with y'all!
So, this morning James walks out to find me attempting to take a picture of our tree with my jacked up phone. Usually having a broken phone doesn't bother me, but I'm tired of not being able to snap quick pics and blog...how lazy am I, really? Anyway, my sweet Boy takes my phone out of my hand and says, let me work on it. At that point I was totally frustrated with it and was like, "you can't fix it...it's just broken." I may have growled. I'm not sure.
He comes back to the living room a minute later and says, "try it now."
How thoughtful is he? You know, I wouldn't have spent the money on it right now...actually, not until I *had* to do so. But he works hard, and if this makes him happy, then who am I to argue? Besides, how lucky am I to have a Boy who'll spend his freelance check on a phone for me instead of on something for himself? Have I mentioned how grateful I am? :) Thanks, Boy--I loved you before the new phone, and I love you even more for making it happen. You take such good care of me!
Back to the original post: my favorite thing for today? Fir trees! This year we got a Noble Fir--it was too fun to show Noble his name on all of the Christmas trees yesterday, and this one just jumped out at us and begged to be our tree. We'll decorate it this weekend, and the kids can't WAIT. I'm not sure who's more excited, us or them.
And an addendum: my other favorite thing today is 4...for my iPhone 4s. :) I've lost track of how many iPhones I've had since June 29, 2007. This is my 3rd of the 4s, alone. Yikes!
We have pretty strict rules in our house about holidays.
No Halloween talk or decorating until October 1.
November 1, Halloween comes down and harvest/Thanksgiving goes up.
December 1, Thanksgiving comes down...and then things either go really fast or really slow. :)
December 1 is when Advent starts in our house. We have a blast counting down the days until Christmas. When I first started blogging, I posted about what we do to make this time fun for the kids...here's a blast from the past (2008, to be exact!):
This year, I'm not sure what December is going to look like. I'm still in SIMPLIFY mode...but we'll see if that holds. :)
So far, here's what's going in the Advent calendar (not the one I still haven't made, we'll use our "old" one again this year!):
December 1: buy our tree!
December 2: Christmas parade & stroll!
December 3: decorate the tree
December 4: Church and decorate outside
And then each day will be a mix of things we're doing already (Kayci's piano recital, PTO Christmas program, etc.) and Christmas fun (wrapping gifts, making ornaments, making playdough--we need Alex for that one, H!).
Um, have I mentioned that I *love* Christmas? :) This year, I just want to do a good job of focusing on the why of Christmas, not just the whats...our kiddos totally understand about Jesus' birth, but it can get lost in the Santa and reindeer and elf stuff that I love so much.
And I understand what a hypocrite I am, talking about keeping it simple while I'm looking around at our Elf on the Shelf (Taylor, who's 6 years old this year!) horsing around on the duck and the two wrapped gifts on the table (they unwrap a book a day)...but really, for me, that IS simplifying. :)
I'm NOT doing 12 days of Christmas this year...that was something I loved last year, but that can totally go. That's progress, right?
I'm NOT making my new (sniff) Silhouette Advent calendar this year, because this mouse doesn't have time for that cookie...and the new banner, and the new stockings, and the new tree skirt...it was not a good 4 weeks of stressing about that stuff, and I've given it up. :)
I'm NOT doing snow & snowmen this year, unless Kayci insists. I'm serious about keeping decorations simple.
And last but not least, a favorite thing...another of my favorite December blog traditions:
Today my favorite thing is quiet time in the morning with my Boy. We've had an hour to sit here and read and, for me, to do my quiet time...now I'm on the computer for a bit before we get up and he heads off to Bible study. This time with him makes all the difference. :)
I'm still amazed that Noble just wrote his name out of the blue last week--trust me when I say that teaching him to write was NOT on my radar! Sure, we've been talking about the letters in his name forever...I was happy he'd mastered that. Just goes to show what kids are learning when we think they're "just playing," right, girls? :)
When I think of Christmas, I think of the month leading up to Christmas...
...Advent activities (and this year, making our new Advent calendar!)
...spending a month immersed in reminders of what Christmas is really about, and celebrating His birth
...and wrapping gifts
...and receiving Christmas cards
...decorating the house,
...inside and out,
...and the tree
...wrapping books for the knuckleheads to unwrap each day
...watching them decorate their own Christmas trees (guess who's called the pink one this year?!)
...time with friends and family
...looking for Taylor the elf each day
...watching Christmas movies
...listening to Christmas songs (especially the ones Kayci plays on the piano!)
...telling stories of Christmases past
...sharing family stories and traditions with Kayci and Noble
...hearing stories about when Daddy was little, and their family traditions
...there's so much to love about this season.
Now that we're back home and Thanksgiving is over, I'm ready for the Christmas season. But I refuse to be rushed into it...we'll do it one day at a time, and we'll enjoy each day as it comes. I'm hesitant to let go of the anticipation that comes with Thanksgiving...I'm not in any hurry to get the tree or decorate the house (partially because our house is still TRASHED from Thanksgiving preparations and fun). I want to hold on to this feeling of something awesome heading our way.
Something awesome is heading our way, and my prayer is that we'll all enjoy the ride this holiday season. We have so many blessings, so much to be thankful for. I don't want to lose focus...especially during this season, I want my family to keep first things first: faith, family and friends.
And I want to keep first things first, too, and not get bogged down in our busy schedule. Keep me accountable, friends!
Here are some of the shirts I've done this week...I have had a BLAST!!
This one was inspired by Rachel's pin, and it's the only one I printed (instead of using vinyl). Love it!!!
Jennifer saw Noble's Bearkat orange shirt and thought it would be fun in Preston's school colors. I was more than happy to make one for our Godson!
We were unable to attend the twins' party a few weeks ago, so these were overdue. My first Christmas shirts!
Mandy had the idea for these a while back, and I had so much fun with them! I added the onesie, based on the cute one that's floating around Pinterest. :)
Okay, a little brag and a little inspiration: Noble wrote his name for the first time...surprised the CRAP out of me!
I bought these cute vintage-y ringer tees for the knuckleheads but I wasn't sure what to do with them. Truthfully, both kiddos have Christmas tees already, but I couldn't pass up that soft cotton. I was watching Noble write this morning, and it totally came to me...luckily, I hadn't taken the other shirts to the press, yet! I'm sorry, guys, but these make be laugh!
I have one more group to share, but we'll all have to be patient!