Friday, December 31, 2010

I'm a slacker.

You might get the impression reading this blog that I'm an overachiever or something.  And I am, but only in certain areas.  If it's something I enjoy (say knitting) or something of core importance to me (such as parenting), I can be obsessive with the researching and collecting of well, everything...  My book and yarn collections are a testament to that.

When it comes to the day-to-day stuff, I am chronically undisciplined.  I can be a real slacker.

My point: I suck at New Years Resolutions. 

I'm annoyed when January rolls around again and I'm much in the same place.  It feels like I'm always trying to get my act together in the same areas.  So this year, I do want to continue to work on some things... Mainly time-management and the related self-discipline...  But I am not going to post out any resolutions. 

Instead, I wrote a list of things I am glad I worked on in 2010:

* Assuming Positive Intent - I have been working on this a lot. I am consciously trying to assume the best of intentions from my kids, my husband, my friends...  Only God sees the heart and it is not for me to be judgemental (and resentful).  I could go on and on and will likely write another post on this...
* Being more Kind and Gentle - I can be snarky and too sarcastic sometimes.  Along with assuming positive intent, I have been trying to be more kind and gentle to those around me, especially my children.  I have been exploring "gentle discipline" this year and it is working for us.  I have been trying to really embrace that Golden Rule thing.  And you know what?  The more I try to cultivate gentleness, the more content I am and the more I enjoy my kids.

* Getting Out -  Getting the kids out of the house at least a few times a week has been a welcome change in our life.  I am an introvert and a homebody so this has been an effort.  The summer was filled with trips to the beach and taking the oldest to VBS.  Even a short walk to the park can change the day.  And if we have to go to the grocery store I make sure I have plenty of snacks, toys and do it at a time when we won't be rushed or tired.  Revolutionary. 
* Celebrations - I really enjoyed planning and executing the boys' birthday parties and other parties this year!
Ok, I feel like less of a slacker now.  :)  Now for those dishes...

What did you accomplish this year?  Go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back.  You deserve it! :)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Post-Christmas Post

Christmas was great.  It was fun to see the kids actually enjoying and understanding a little more this year. 

Lookie here!

We were blessed with "just enough" this year.  Not too much to be overwhelming, but enough that I feel very blessed.  I also felt like we did "just enough" visiting.  Enough to enjoy it, but not too much to feel so hurried.  We are finally finding our stride.

Handprints and Poem for Dada

Enjoying the New Train Set

We got hit with a blizzard and about two feet of snow the day after Christmas.  Even though I'm a beach bum, I totally love snow.  Of course if we got more than one or two good storms a year the novelty would probably wear off. :)
Blizzard '10

I am working on getting things back to normal this week.  The house is thoroughly trashed.  There are toys EVERYWHERE.  And the kids are getting cabin fever which translates into mass destruction.  (Yesterday they got into baby powder amongst other things. Gah!)   

The tree and decorations will stay up a bit longer. I toyed with the idea of leaving them up until three kings day, but they usually come down New Years Day. We'll see how I feel this weekend.

Ok back to the cleaning thing...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Linkies

Just a few more (short) articles I enjoyed... you know if you have time between the wrapping and the prepping and the cooking...

7 Ways to Make the Holidays Easier and More Fun with Toddlers and Babies

What the Grinch and Expectations Have in Common
Wise words about how expectations rob us of enjoyment and can cause friction w/ our spouses.

Plan Your Perfect Christmas: Embrace Imperfection

What we Tell Our Children About Santa by Pastor Mark Driscoll
Interesting history lesson about Santa and this Pastor's take on finding a middle ground with his kids.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Simplifying Christmas

I know. I know. Christmas is only seven short days away.  Kinda late to be simplifying anything at this point.

I just skimmed through Simplify Your Christmas (Elaine St. James Little Books), a book I first read a couple years ago.  It had some good tips and reminders that I am thinking about right now. 

Here are my (not so organized) thoughts on the book:

* Embrace what you love about the season, reject/eliminate the parts you don't. *

Personally, I love the decorations, music, shopping, baking, eating... the traditions are what make Christmas special for me.  Now that I have my own family, I am really enjoying creating new traditions and passing down old ones.  I love the time to really focus on the gift of Christ... a time to celebrate Him.
What I don't love?  Feeling rushed, pressure to attend every (family) event, not having enough money to buy everything I want to give and trying to come up with gifts for people who never seem to appreciate what you do give.  (I'm sure we all have a few of those peeps on our list.  This year I gave up and they are getting gift cards... like it or lump it!) 

* Cut back on expectations... for gifts, for food, for whatever is stressing you out. *

We have gotten pretty good at saying "No."
Since our first child was born, we decided that Christmas morning is just for us. We make a big breakfast and take our time with the presents.  We will not travel on Christmas Day. We spent years before that driving to three different houses on Christmas Day after being out somewhere Christmas Eve. It was not an enjoyable way to spend the holiday. And there is absolutely no way my kids would be up to that. I would encourage you do to the same: Carve out a special time to enjoy the holiday with just your immediate family... be it Christmas Eve or Christmas morning or the day after... whenever works.

* Examine your motives. *

Do you shop because you are bored or unsatisfied with your life?  In the book she says
Shopping has become America's pastime.  On average, we now spend six hours a week in a mall and only 40 minutes a week playing with our children.
Yikes.  What better excuse to feed our shopping addiction than Christmas!
I am really liking the three gifts rule we are putting in place for the kids this year.  (Three gifts under the tree, one to represent each wiseman.  Each gift with a different theme.)
Some years, the gifts might be more expensive than others, but it is a good limit for me. Otherwise I tend to feel like I need "just one more" thing and before you know it I've gone overboard.  I'm already trying to cheat on my own system by cramming extra little pressies in the stockings.  :)  I figure that will be my wiggle room on the "good" years.
I love shopping and will spend hours and hours "window shopping" on-line.  I fully realize it is an escape.  I love getting packages in the mail!  It gives me something little to look forward to. 
Perhaps this is not an issue for you, but it is something I need to keep in check.

* Simplifying doesn't always equal "less time consuming."  *

Ok some of the ideas St. James mentions might take more time, such as personally responding to each Christmas card you receive instead of sending a mass mailing of cards yourself.  But there is no right or wrong way for your family to celebrate the holiday.  Focusing on the "meaningful" is going look different in each family.  Taking the time to ask yourself "Why am I really doing this?" might lead to some big changes in how you celebrate.  By eliminating the obligations and pressures we put on ourselves, we give ourselves the time and room to make Christmas more meaningful and memorable.

Anyway, I definitely recommend picking up Simplify Your Christmas (Elaine St. James Little Books). (It's out of print so maybe try the library.)  It covers topics including cards, kids, giving, holiday spending, decorating, food, and plenty of ideas for creating a simpler, more meaningful Christmas for you and yours.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Linky Love: Homemade Ornament Roundup

I have been collecting tutorials for homemade ornaments.  These are all easy enough for the kids to help with.  I think this is going to be an annual tradition for us.  Last year W and I made cinnamon-applesauce ornaments and handed them out to everyone on our list.  (You can see one of the cinnamon hearts in this post.)

* Cinnamon Applesauce "Cookies" (basic recipe, but there are tons of variations on the web)
* Salt Dough Ornaments .. a classic!
* Beeswax or Crayon Wax Dipped Pinecones
* Recycle Toys into Ornaments
* Sparkly Yarn Ornaments
* Vintage Glitter Snowballs (part of a series of 24 Handmade Ornaments, though not are as kid-friendly to make)
* Retro Snowflakes
* Sparkling Ice Crystals
* Borax Crystals
* Mice (made from Hershey kisses!)
* Felt Wrapped Trees
* Not technically an ornament but this (unbreakable) felt garland is perfect for homes with little ones.
* Button Wreath
As if all that wasn't enough for you, here is a list of holiday books with coordinating kids crafts.  Most are, you guessed it, ornaments.

Shhhhh!  We made these for the Grands last week.

Anyone have others to share?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

my day so far: excuse the lack of grammar

preschooler woke me up at 6:30am...  not unusual but the peed on bed/sheets/comforter was... (way to NOT put a trainer/diaper on the kid last night, mom.  Uh doy!)
grouchy, clingy toddler... again, not completely out there but the quickly ensuing poo-plosion was a bit much...

"Can I have a lollypop?"  "Not now."  "Whyyyyy??" "Um because it's 8am and you haven't eaten breakfast yet."

fed the kids, nurse the tot, feed them both more more more  (Seriously these guys would eat non-stop if they could... but not at dinner.  That is a whole 'nother category apparently.

Boys play w/ playdough... "mommy come eat these cookies I made!" (repeat that about 10x's)

"Can I have a lollypop? Gum? Snack? Can I? Can I? Huh? Huh? Huh?"

IMPROMPTU DANCE BREAK.... evacuate the dance floor...

check up on my holiday orders on-line... call customer service to find out an item I ordered awhile ago is no longer available, but yet is still showing up as available for purchase on the site and is showing up as "backordered" on my account... JCPenny, you are on notice!  (along with Kohls but that is another post)
weeeell I thought I was finished Christmas shopping for the kids...

laundry, dishes, laundry, laundry, laundry

"ok WHY are you completely naked?"  (this is a new thing and it results in whining b/c he is cold. no duh.)

"Don't play in the toilet!" 
"Don't put that washcloth/toothpaste/etc etc in the toilet!"
"Don't climb on the stereo speaker!"
"No you can't go out front and mess with the Christmas lights."
"Don't propeller your brother."
"Please stop taking the ornaments off the tree"
"Please plug the tree back in."
"Put the fan back in your room if you would like to keep it."

"I'm cooooold!"  "How about we PUT SOME CLOTHES ON then?"  o.m.g.

(aww they are playing megabloks together.  cuteness.)

baby won't nap

feed them both lunch
story time
let's try that nap again...
"I don't want to do quiet time!!!"  (yeah, yeah, I know, you tell me

Finally, quiet. 

I am thinking about my morning and laughing because it is not an unusual morning for us.  We sure cram a lot in there, huh?  This also explains why my house is pretty much a disaster and why I honestly don't care one lick about that today...  Life with tiny kids is crazy exhausting and I am still enjoying it.  (Unless you talk to me between the hours of 4:30pm-6pm. I am not enjoying much of anything at that point.) 
Maybe the years of sleep deprivation have warped my brain??
Still 5 more hours 'till Papa K gets home...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's the most wonderful time...

I have to admit, I've been a little scrooge-like for the past couple years.  2008 sucked all around.  I had just had a baby in 2009. 

But this year?  I am absolutely loving it!  Of course it helps that at four, my oldest is finally old enough to understand and enjoy some of the traditions.  (Last year it seemed to go over his head and he was completely out of sorts on Christmas day.) 

I went shopping on Black Friday afternoon with him.  I still don't think I'm the doorbuster at 4am type.  I much prefer on-line shopping.  :)
But it was great to go in the afternoon.  They had a full staff so there were no lines.  And while I missed out on some stuff, there were enough deals to make it worth it.  We stopped at Starbucks for a chocolate milk (his first!) and a peppermint mocha for me.

W loved decorating the house!  I unpacked the ornaments and he put them on the tree.  I put some special ones towards the top, but he did about 85% of the decorating.  He even put some ornaments on his kitchen set.  How cute is that?

Of course putting the lights on the house with Daddy was pretty much the highlight of his year.

I finished the book advent.  Eventually I will make some eco-friendly reusable wraps for these, but since I have an obscene amount of wrapping paper in my attic I picked a roll and got to it.  Wasn't sure where to put these, but they look pretty nice by the tree. (Like the number labels? Yeah, they are just plain post-its w/ marker. LOL)

Now I am waiting (no so) patiently for all my mail order goodies to make it to me.