Monday, December 21, 2015

Make Time for Quality Time!

Every year I have the best intentions for what I think will make a special holiday season for myself and my family.  Newsflash -- nothing ever works out the way I plan!  This year, one of my big goals has been to try not to get too caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday and make sure that we are making time for quality time together.  For example, while I would love to get my gift wrapping done as soon as possible, I am choosing to NOT lock myself up in my room wrapping while my kids are downstairs playing.  (That happened last year...)  So I still have wrapping to do, BUT, I had fun yesterday afternoon baking with my littlest cutie pie!  And then last night, after dinner, we all sat down as a family to watch "A Christmas Story" which we watch once a year and we all find it entertaining (my little dolly relates to the boy who can't bend his arms because his mother has him so bundled with snow clothes to keep him warm!).  While we did that, my little one and I sat at the coffee table and colored in a Christmas coloring book that she found in her book case -- I always love to color, and we don't do it as often as we should!

Our town does a lot of fun things this time of year and sadly, we seemed to miss most of them this year!  I was sick the day the town did their annual tree lighting, and we were out of town celebrating an early Christmas with family when the town had caroling, hay rides with Santa, a holiday tree festival and activities for the kids.  But, the weekend before that we took a drive up North to meet my aunt and to go to a Holiday Stroll!  The girls and I went and it was fun to see the live nativity scene, the lights and our favorite -- a tiny horse!  So adorable!!  Lots of people there, so my little one opted not to see Santa, but we were all glad that we made the trip to spend some time with our aunt and just to enjoy a nice night of Christmas music and Christmas lights and holiday cheer!

It's good to stop and remind ourselves that the season is not about the gift giving, and that long after the kids have forgotten what is under the tree, hopefully they will still remember the special times shared with loved ones!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Remembering Our Year Through Christmas Ornaments

One of my favorite ways to remember fun and important times in our lives is to collect Christmas ornaments for our family's Christmas tree.  This is always something that I keep in mind when we do something special as a family or go on a vacation -- my favorite souvenir, aside from the pictures that I take, is a Christmas ornament to add to our collection!  Sometimes, it is easy to find a ready-made Christmas ornament in a gift shop, for example, this year our family went with the Girl Scout troop on the famous Cog Railway up Mount Washington.  In the gift shop, much to my delight, they were selling these cute little replica cog railway ornaments -- perfect!  When I got home, I took my trusty black marker and wrote the date on the bottom and wrote that we went with the GS troop and my daughter's friend.  What a cute addition to the tree, and a nice memory when we hang it on the tree!

Another fun day trip that we took this year, was with my aunts, uncle, and my cousin's kids and we took a lobster boat out to the Isle of Shoals!  This was another great day that I wanted to make sure to remember, and for as small a place as it is, they had a gift shop -- no Christmas ornaments, but they did have these cute little replica lobster buoys in different colors and with different numbers.  I picked this one because it had a "9" on it -- the exact number of people in our family that went on the trip that day!  Again, when I got home, I took my marker and wrote everyone's name on the back along with the date of our trip.  I think it is so adorable and it will always remind me of all of the lobster buoys we saw in the water as we headed out to the islands!

After the girls got out of school in June this year, we were fortunate to take a trip to California for a family wedding.  While we were there, we surprised the girls with a day trip to Disneyland!  We had taken them to Walt Disney World in Florida twice when they were younger, but our little one was 2 the last time we went and she has no memories of the trips.  We were so thrilled to be able to take the girls to Disneyland and our little one now fondly remembers it as one of the best days of her life!  Money was tight on that trip -- as was space, with how expensive it is to bring luggage with you on a plane these days!!  So, I used my spending money on souvenirs for the kids but when my dad and stepmother were asking me what I would like for Christmas this year, a Disneyland ornament popped in my head immediately!  And they were the perfect ones to ask for it, because they went with us that day!  We celebrated Christmas with them last week and this Mickey & Minnie ornament was one of my favorite gifts!

The girls and I helped our Girl Scout troop decorate a tree for our town's Festival of Holiday Trees and we had a theme of "Winter Wonderland."  This adorable hat is one of the ones we made for the GS tree and now it has a nice home on our family tree!  Our tree is also filled with handmade ornaments that the girls have made over the years, which makes it even more special to me!

We have another new ornament on our tree, to commemorate another important event in our life this year -- this beautiful ornament was given to us by my aunt and it comes from the hospice organization that cared for my beloved Gram in her last days this past October.  It is a beautiful ornament to remember a beautiful life.

Your "memory" ornaments can be anything -- handmade, store-bought, etc. -- whatever they are, try to keep your tree in mind throughout the year.  You and your children will cherish the memories of times spent together and it makes such a nice tradition to get to reminisce while you are decorating your Christmas tree!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas Card Photo Outtakes

We have made it a tradition to send a photo card out as our annual Christmas card.  Some years I get a great idea and a great photo and I get the cards ordered and out early to mid-December.  Some years, we are lucky to get it all together before Christmas!  This was one of those years...  We have had no snow here and for some reason it has left me less than inspired for the Christmas card picture -- which is funny, because we almost never do an outdoor photo, so what does it matter if we have snow or not?  Anyway, last night I finally got a burst of energy and had the girls put something mildly holiday-ish on (red sweater, "Smile it's a snow day shirt", Santa hats) and set them up by the tree to get some pictures.  Here are some of the outtakes -- I did get some good ones and ordered the card online last night, so we're getting there!!

Nothing like a little holiday wrestling match for the Christmas card!

I was trying something -- did not look as good in reality!  And my eldest daughter looks like "Elf on a Shelf" here!
 Hope you have better luck with your cards!  :)