Tag Archives: Christmas

Christmas countdown!

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is in

3 days!!!!!

So what has the past two weeks looked like in our house???!!

Something like this…….

Baking: The kiddos LOVE this part of the holidays.

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Plenty of chocolate yumminess on the counters. Our mail carrier, trash men, and our neighbors benefit from all these goodies.  Last year, we discovered “Christmas crack”…..research it on Pinterest.  It’s so addictive…..

chocolate chips, peanuts, peanut butter chips, almond bark…..2 hours on low in a slow cooker….DONE!

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And decorating cupcakes gets better when you are doing it with family and friends! I love how my SIL shares her love for baking with my kids!!

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Decorating:

Who doesn’t love hanging beautiful lights, and huge bows around the house?! And I just ADORE these beautiful stockings from Pottery Barn!!!

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Our Christmas tree decorating is not complete without various Christmas favorites, like “The Little Drummer Boy” by Pentatonix, blaring in the background! With a 12 ft tree, decorating is always an adventure.

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 Christmas Activities:

On Saturday, the Fashionista, Mini Me and I ditched the rest of the crew to attend a Christmas play at a local playhouse. With their Bitty Babies in tow, we had a blast!

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As we continue to plug away on our Jessie tree, Miss Missy is also enjoying all her playtime before the Little People Nativity Set.

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Holiday Parties:

Tonight, the hubs and I hit the town for his annual work Christmas party. We love any opportunity to get dressed up, hang out together, drink alcohol and good food!

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Lastly, I have been preparing for our Christmas Mass. Sweet Pea and the Fashionista will be singing in the choir this year, and I always enjoy laying out their outfits for planning purposes.

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It actually takes me a few weeks to get everyone’s Christmas stuff together…..I do LOVE getting everyone dressed for Christmas Mass. I try to have a general color palette that lets everyone be “individual” without too “matchy matchy”. If you can tell, I can’t decide between the two black and white dresses for Miss Missy which is why I have six outfits and not five.

Look for a family shot after Mass on Christmas Eve!

But through it all, the hardest part has been adjusting our attitudes.  Finding less to frustrate and annoy us; hoping for the peace that only Christ can give and truly “entering” into this Season of Advent.

Asking the Lord to help remind us of the joy of this season……

As we continue to light the Advent Wreath, may we continue to soften our hearts to welcome the Christ Child.

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God Bless,

Tammi

Christmas Tree shopping!!

My blog might be quiet…but it’s not for lack of action over here. We are “knee deep” in enjoying our Advent celebrations and traditions.

Finding our Christmas tree is one of our favorites. When my two oldest were young, we would just hit the local parish’s Christmas tree lot and drop $40, sometimes $60, on a Christmas tree. We would just pick one that looked “decent” and have the men help us tie it to the roof of our car. It was a 20 minute “on the way home” kinda errand.

Well…you can imagine our shear joy when we moved to our new home, five years ago, and found out that two streets over, there was a Christmas tree farm. It is a family-run farm with just the sweetest old man who passes out hot chocolate, candy canes, and coloring books to the kiddos.

After visiting our first tree farm, we fell in love with the experience!!!

If you haven’t been…I highly recommend it.  There is just something about running through a nursery of trees and picking out THAT ONE that will stand in your home.

Here is our family getting ready to begin our adventure……

Coats, hats, gloves….and ready to nab a beautiful tree!

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Dad grabs a colorful “tie” from the owner and gets ready for the inspection. He is the resident “tree expert”. Then, the kids will break off into pairs and then go in hunt for a tree.

Then…it begins….the echoing of “Found it! I found the perfect tree!!”

The hubs and I walk from tree to tree examining the kids’ choices and looking for a tree that is pretty full.

After several examinations, DDD found our tree this year! He did great!

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And finally a “We found it” picture!

 Around the time of this picture, we were ready to climb into a warm van and get home!

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Can’t wait to see this tree all “fancy”!!!

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Stay tuned for more pics of our decorated tree!

God bless,

Tammi

Highlights from our Christmas!!!

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth- John 1:14

I love the Christmas season! I love spending Advent getting the kiddos ready for the season of Christmas. You can read about our family’s Advent post here. I love the splashes of Christmas red; the smell of evergreen; and the warmth of baking. I love taking a break from homeschooling and just enjoying the family time. I love singing carols and eating baked goods. I love watching the kiddos make and wrap presents for each other. I love the company of visitors and the multiple excuses for parties!!!

IMG_3088IMG_3132This year the children participated in their co-op’s outdoor nativity play. It was awesome! Sweet Pea was given the privilege of playing Our Lady ,while DDD played a shepherd, and the Fashionista played an angel. It was such a beautiful segway into the season of Christmas.

It wouldn’t feel like the Christmas season without SNOW!!!! Thankfully, we got a nice spread right before Christmas.

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IMG_3202IMG_3199The children suited up and made their way outside for some sledding and snowman building.

I was happy to remain inside brewing hot chocolate, and popping popcorn for their movie night.

christmas shotThis was our family on Christmas Eve at Mass! What an adventure! (Let’s just say that Miss Missy found everything interesting and had to LOUDLY discuss it, while Mini Me reminded me several times about how tired she was, as she rolled around the pew kneelers…..good times….) Our parish is very well attended and expected Christmas Eve Mass to be no different. The Mass was beautiful, and was so special to our family as our nephew, and godson, was selected to play the part of the little drummer boy and announce the birth of the King. He led the procession into the church with this little drum, while the choir sang “The little drummer boy”. The priest processed in with a young baby, reminding the congregation of the child Jesus who was born that night. This 4pm Mass is the children’s Mass and father prepared a great homily about the humble beginnings of our great King. He reminded all the children of the joy of the season and all the parents of the need to protect the sanctity of life at all stages.

After dinner, we spent the night decorating our Christmas tree:

IMG_3269DDD got his name pulled from the hat this year to put the angel on top of the tree.

He was pretty excited. …

IMG_3278IMG_3286While the hubs and I put on the Christmas lights, the children watched “Its A Wonderful Life” with hot chocolate. Then…it was their turn to add a few ornaments before heading off to bed. They always wake up Christmas morning to a decorated tree that the hubs and I finish while they sleep.

IMG_3296Christmas morning is a blur. I was up pretty late with the hubs exchanging our presents to each other and wrapping a few leftover presents for the kiddos. We decided last year, that we liked the idea of giving each child their own “pile” of Christmas presents with their own unique wrapping paper. We then lay each child’s personalized stocking on the top of their pile. ( I wish I had a picture but delirium set in….)

IMG_3298This is just about the only picture I have from Christmas morning. It was crazy!!! Tons of screaming, and hugs…..=) As you can tell, Miss Missy had to put most of her presents on or to good use.

The hubs and I went right to work….he was replacing batteries and building toys and I was creating a delicious Christmas dinner.

The majority of our days/nights of Christmas were spent like this:

christmas 3This is pretty much how my daughter spent her Christmas season….wearing reindeer antlers; playing christmas carols on the piano and hanging out in her pajamas.

IMG_3243Christmas pajamas; antlers and our homemade Christmas CDs on repeat!!!

christmas 2Miss Missy let her brother tape a red ball to her nose to make her Rudolph.

IMG_3074Plenty of time for cuddling…

IMG_3421goofing around…..

IMG_3425and loving new toys!

IMG_3423Thanks to an American girl outfit the Fashionista is set for a while! She is having visions of tea parties and fairy adventures!!!

IMG_3427Some funky glasses and a new fake hairpiece made Ms. Sweet Pea’s Christmas quite exciting!!!

DDD was ecstatic to get new “grown up” tools for Christmas. Luckily, we had plenty of use for his tools when it came to assembling his little sisters’ new kitchen. He did such a great job!

Christmas will be running strong for us til the feast of the epiphany. As we gaze at our christmas tree each night, we rejoice in the joy that this season brings our family.

God’s blessings on each one of you!

Tammi

Tip Tuesday: Holiday help!

I have been so busy enjoying this Advent season with the kiddos that I forgot about Tip Tuesday!

So…I’ll keep it simple…..keep it simple.

By thinking of simple things you can do to prepare yourself for company and simple ways you can keep yourself from becoming overwhelmed.

Here are some of my difficulties/problems and possible suggestions:

If you are having company for a Christmas dinner:

  • write out everything that you need to have done by dinner time. Be specific. Then work backwards. What needs to be done the day “of”? what can be done a day before ? or two days before? Get the kids involved. How can they help?
  • Grocery shop at least two days ahead of time…..by yourself, if possible. (You need a clear head..haha) Spend the day before prepping food; making side dishes and finishing desserts.
  • If you have invited children, tailor your menu for a minimal mess in your home. I would NOT recommend serving a red sauce with pasta when I know the parents and I will be dining and barely overseeing the children. Serve something with little care for the “fingerprints” you will encounter. I would recommend a nice baked macaroni and cheese with a vegetable and some fruit. Place cheese and crackers on the table or a nice veggie tray for the kids to “pick” at. Serve apple juice or a fun sparkling white apple juice to minimize the damage left by spills.
  • If you get an offer to bring something…take it! Suggest things that don’t require re-heating such as a cold salad, bread or wine.
  • prep ahead….diced veggies while you are making lunches during the week. Make pies or desserts in the evening.
  • give some time to your decorations…giving a little “love” to your centerpiece or table arrangement can really speak volumes to your guests.
  • I love some of the ideas that you can find on Pinterest. I love the idea of using little stockings to hold your silverware…so fun and festive!

I always have guests that stop by during the holidays:

  • I have a few “guest ready” things on hand during the holidays. I like to have fancy cheeses and a few bottles of wine on hand. You can check out my blog post here on some cheese ideas. Pair these with some grapes on a platter and you look so prepared!!! I also recommend grabbing a few frozen appetizers that you can pop in the oven for guests. This time of year, the grocery stores often have a few puff pastry appetizers, mini quiches or mini hot dogs. I also purchase additional candy treats to put out: hershey kisses, snicker bars, or m&ms are some of my favorites.
  • Stock up on some quick freezer dinners for the kids. My kids LOVE chicken nuggets and fries. They can eat out of the freezer for a night!!! This is awesome when you are enjoying a conversation with guests but feel guilty about needing to feed the kids. And let’s be honest….sometimes you are just exhausted from all the wine and hang out!!
  • I always make sure I buy 2 boxes of disposable kleenex hand towels for my downstairs bathroom. Ain’t NOBODY got time for spreading germs!!! haha.

My kids and I love these! They are lightly breaded and made with all white rib meat. No weird forms…just chunks of chicken.

If you have you been invited to someone else’s house for dinner?

  • I would definitely contact the host and see what you can bring. If you are traveling, suggest that you bring a nice wine or fresh bakery bread to accompany dinner.
  • Be punctual. There is nothing worse than a family that decides to come “fashionably late” for dinner. “Fashionably late” is reserved for college kids and parties that are an “open house” style. If you want the invite to be offered again….definitely be on time!
  • If you are enjoying dinner with family or friends who live close by, consider bringing a food “gift” for your host. One year, I brought my sister- in -law a breakfast casserole when she hosted my family for Thanksgiving dinner. My thought was that after cooking all day…it might be nice to get a break the next morning. She was so appreciative and it hardly took any time.
  • After dinner and/or dessert, I would recommend assisting the host in clearing the table. Many hostesses, like myself, do not like guests to help with dishes but clearing the table is always a blessing!

I plan on making a ton of cookies for the Christmas season:

  • Prep for all your holiday baking. I like to bake cookies for my holiday cookie exchange, on the same day. There is something amazing about fresh and chewy cookies. However, it can really destroy your kitchen, if you do not plan ahead. If you are attempting to bake multiple batches of cookies, I suggest portioning out all the dry ingredients in a gallon size lock bag. This can be done several days in advance.
  • Write out all your ingredients and the amounts you need. Make sure you have enough of each ingredient. Having to stop baking to run out for a missing ingredient is no fun.
  • Always bake with parchment paper, especially if you only have one or two cookie sheets to bake on. You can just slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheet and let it cool, while you throw the next sheet of parchment paper on and a new batch of cookies in the oven…no need to wait for a pan!
  • If you have little kids helping….let them do tasks that are set up with little frustration for you, but that they find fun. I will let my kids crack the eggs into a small glass bowl and then pick through it for shells. I let them help with the measuring of flour and sugar but…be prepared for a mess.  I also might only let one or two kids help per cookie. We typically make about 2 -3 different kinds of cookies to give out to neighbors, friends, etc.

It is so hard to find time to really live out Advent myself….

  • Create some quiet time for yourself, reading a daily Advent reflection. Many Catholic websites offer this service during Advent. It can really help to gain a better focus for your day. You can look into one here.
  • Spend a few minutes a day thinking about the birth of Christ. Read books about the Nativity to your children. Take part in a live nativity play or attend one! Give yourself some time during your day to push yourself to prepare for the birth of Christ.
  • Clear your heart of “clutter”. Do you need to ask someone for forgiveness? Are you holding on to a grudge that is harming you from the inside? Utilize the sacrament of Reconciliation…many parishes have additional times in the evening during the week before Christmas to participate in this sacrament.
  • Most of all, spend this time…..being selfless. Ask the Lord to help you be a “giver” during this season. Give of your time, your talents, and your love to all those around you.

Wishing you the Merriest of Christmas. May the Christ child reign in your hearts!

God Bless,

Tammi

Rediscovering Advent!!! (this is a long post!!)

Advent is such a beautiful time of anticipation.

The children really enjoy this time in our house and how we prepare our hearts and home to receive the Christ child. This year I was very convicted by our parish priest to really live “little Lent”, which is the season of Advent….. to “rediscover” the joys of awaiting a Messiah. I want to deck the house out in purple and have the children live this Advent season in a different way than we ever have. So here are some of the things that we are doing….

I ordered this cool purple table cloth from Amazon that should arrive tomorrow for our dining room table. I figured our advent wreath in the middle would be a beautiful addition.

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So I thought I was going to be super “clever” and put up beautiful purple bows on our Christmas tree for Advent until we awaited the Christmas season…..Silly me to think that I would be pioneering a new thought!!! Check out this gorgeous tree from Catholic Inspired!!! I mean…so beautifully done. I figured the hubs and I could put up the tree and our white lights and then add some purple bows and purple balls…simply gorgeous!

Looks like I will also be grabbing one of the baby doll cribs for this idea. We love to put up our nativity scenes without baby Jesus and further grow the anticipation of awaiting the Child Jesus.

I contacted Sarah over at Three Roses Design to see if she could  create me a banner in pink and purple “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” banner…and she did!!!!!

She sent me the link today!!!

Print It Yourself - Instant Download Digital PDF -  O Come Emmanuel Damask Bunting or Banner - Purple & Pink Advent Colors - 15 Flags

I have replaced my mantle candles with purple pillar candles as well. I’m excited to see how everything comes out and will post pics when I can.

We have also decided to add this book to our nightly prayer time with the kids. I recently found out that there are three books in this series.

advent bookWe read Jotham’s Journey last year and will read Tabitha’s Travels next year. If you are interested in these books, you can purchase them on Amazon. com.

During this season of Advent from now until Christmas Day, we are going to spend more time “anticipating” than celebrating the Christmas season. We are going to spend from Christmas Day til the Epiphany in the Christmas season. (I will blog on our Christmas celebrations in a later blog.) Here are some of our Advent celebrations……

  • Learn about some great saints and heralds in the bible. John the Baptist was a herald of the gospel, proclaiming the coming of the Christ. We will spend a homeschool lesson talking about his life and sharing some honey and tea in his honor. We will talk about what is means to wander in the desert and make a “fast” later in the week from TV or a fun snack. We will also discuss the various “players” in the bible.
  • Make a Jessie Tree. The kiddos and I decorated paper ornaments last year and laminated them to start our first Jessie Tree. We found a great printable online that included bible verses. We can learn about great “players” in the bible and about Jesus’s family tree. (You can click on the picture for the link to print some of these out.) We use a small fake tree that I bought at CVS years ago.

  • Write a loveletter. I am going to write up a loveletter on special paper for each member of my family.  Tuck it into their stocking for Christmas day. Tell them how I feel about them and why I love being with them.
  • Learn a Christmas carol. We will pick a Christmas carol and learn all the words to perform as a family for our family Christmas party.
  • Advent Angels.  We will prepare homemade presents for our cousins for our annual gift exchange. We will offer nightly prayers for the advent angels that we have selected.
  • Celebrate Feast days. We will celebrate the feast of St. Nick on Dec. 6; the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 9, (since the 8th falls on a Sunday during Advent); the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12; and the feast of St. Lucy on Dec. 13. ( I will do a separate blog on these.) However, since the Feast of St. Nick is on Friday, I will share those traditions with you now. On the evening of the feast of St. Nick, the children gather around my husband or I and we read them one of the stories about St. Nick. Typically, this story:

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This typically leads to a little discussion about how we can be “St. Nick” to people in our lives. The children then ask how they can be “St. Nick” to others throughout the holidays…. They might wrap a story for a sibling and say that it is from “St. Nick”. Then we help the children put out their shoes so that someone who “wants to be like St. Nick” can leave them some candy and toys in their shoes.

I took these pictures last year on the feast of St. Nick:

st. nick 1 st. nick 3The kids love the excitement of coming downstairs to check their shoes to see what St. Nick left them.

  • We also keep a collection of books in a basket near our fireplace. The children enjoy flipping through these seasonal books and reading them with mom or dad. Here are some of our favorites:

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As a family, we made a decision years ago NOT to incorporate Santa into our holiday traditions. We have plenty of family that do, and our children have always done a great job not challenging other children or family about his existence. We tell our children that Santa Claus came from this belief in St. Nick and a desire to celebrate the birth of Jesus though presents. This is a great book to illustrate the true meaning of Christmas.

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You can get all these on Amazon. I tend to buy a new Christmas book or two every year to add to our collection. These are a few of our favorites. I  know I have more packed in our Christmas bins that I will find later. =)

  • We also make a special trip to the library and take out other books about Christmas. This is a great time to learn about Christmas in other cultures and countries as well. Ask the librarian his/her recommendations as well. Librarians are a tremendous resource. They might also know of local events for celebrating the holidays.
  • Purchase and wrap our advent angel gifts- our church has ages and suggestions of kids who need stuff for Christmas on construction paper angels taped around the back of our church during Advent. The kids pick a child that is close to their age; shop for them, and wrap the present.
  • Pick out a Christmas tree.- Support a local tree farm and they will let you pick your tree out yourself. We only paid $35 for our 11 ft tree last year. The kids also got coloring books, candy canes and hot chocolate from the owner.
  • Christmas treeIndoor snowball fight. We started this tradition last year. It’s a “girl verse boy” game in our house. I grab two laundry baskets full of matched white socks. The boys get one basket and the girls get the other. Than we man our “forts” (blankets thrown across couches and chairs) and the game begins. It’s hilarious watching people run out of “snowballs” and get pelted as they try to gain more around their forts.
  • Look at Christmas lights.
    We typically try to go look at Christmas lights on the feast of St. Lucy as she is the patron saint of lights. I will say that we look at Christmas lights as often as we can when driving home from activities or family gatherings.
  • Have a family “purge”. This advent season is a great time to go through our toys and clothes and to think of those less “fortunate” than us. We have everyone in the family to pick a few things that they can give away or offer to someone else.
  • Perform thoughtful deeds. The children and I are starting a campaign called Touched by His Light.much like the “Random Acts of Kindness” that are on Pinterest. We will be spending much of our Advent and Christmas seasons looking for ways to spread the love of Christ with those around us. We will be working on different activities that cost money and some that are just giving of our time. (check back at the beginning of next week for that blog as well…)
  • Have a Christmas dance party. The hubs has spent some considerable amount of time creating Christmas CDs of our family favorites. We love to pop these in during car trips and family hangouts. A dance party over the holidays is always predictable!!!
  • Visit or perform in a live nativity. For the past two years, the children have participated in a live nativity with our local co-op. It is such a joy to watch them!
  • Decorate the house to Christmas music. The children love to prepare our house for the upcoming holidays. Everywhere there are reminders that we are preparing our home to welcome “the King of Kings”!
  • Christmas 2Christmas 3Make Christmas cards for the military. The kids loved when we did this last year. They got so creative with some of these cards.
  • cards for soldiersChristmas caroling for the elderly. I am trying to arrange an opportunity to do some Christmas caroling for some of the residents of an assisted living establishment near our house. I used to work for one of these facilities when I was a teenager and I remember fondly how much they enjoyed having kids come. =)
  • Decorating the Christmas tree. Our family will spend Christmas Eve decorating our Christmas tree for Christmas morning. It is such a special time for us. For the kids, it one more reminder that Christ is born the next day!!!

As we enter into this season of Advent, like the manger, may we make “room” in our heart for the Christ -child. May he find your heart to be open to Him and the love He has for you.

God bless,

Tammi