Sunday, November 30, 2014

How our Thanksgiving was Different

Last week, we were blessed to welcome my Mom and oldest nephew, Landen, for Thanksgiving.  We haven't had family visit for Thanksgiving, so it was very exciting for us.  I spent most of Wednesday evening baking pies and planning my cooking schedule for the following morning.  I was up early to pull the turkey from the brine and get it in the roaster.  I started on the other desserts before moving on to the rest of the menu.  

As the time to eat was approaching, Landen became increasingly concerned about when our guests would be arriving.  I explained to him that he, along with Nana, completed our table this year.  But, at home, he said, everyone was on their way to Grandma Sonia's house to have a big giant meal together.  Weren't we having a lot of people over for dinner?  
He was rather disappointed when I explained to him again that we weren't having anyone else over.  Our military friends were gathering with other friends, traveling to see family, or had family visiting from out of town.  I excitedly pointed out that this year, we were so fortunate to have family visiting to make the day more special to us.  Oddly, what was my silver lining was his dark cloud.  

We typically spend Thanksgiving like we spend every other day--celebrating with each other.  When our families go out to dinner on Mother's Day, gather for a Fourth of July BBQ,  or celebrate the birthday of a grandchild, we aren't there.  Each holiday that we are missing out on the fun of family togetherness with our loved ones in Ohio, I spend part of the day being sad that we are once again not present.  

We continued on with our dinner and have a lovely time discussing all of the reasons we found to be thankful.  Mom kept the kiddos so Adam and I could spend a few hours shopping together.  I thought it was a remarkable day, but even as Landen was leaving, he commented about being sad that our Thanksgiving wasn't like the one he was accustomed to at home.  I'm not sure it ever will be.  

One person's amazing day may be someone else's disappointment....even if they shared the day in the same way.  
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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Shop from home at Minted.com

I love shopping.  It can be hard to do when I'm on a budget or with kids in tow, but there's something exciting about finding just the right item for just the right space.  When our house was being built, I'd spend every free minute daydreaming about how everything was going to be just exactly how I wanted it, livable and beautiful.  After almost two years in our home, things still aren't just so, but I'm forever working on each decorating aspect.
One of the areas I've tried to be more purposeful is the decor I select for the walls.  I try so hard to find pieces that reflect who I am and who we are as a family.  We love the ocean and I think each of us consider the coast our favorite place.  I love to find prints the remind me of the time we get to spend with the sand between our toes.  Recently, I was able to find some incredible pieces at minted.com.
Selection of prints I love at minted.com    

Oh my gosh, though, once you are at minted.com, you could spend a few hours browsing.  What is Minted, exactly?  As I've mentioned, you can find fabulous art prints, art inspired by your own photos, and other beautiful gifts.  You will also see that there is a gorgeous selection of stationery including Christmas & holiday cards, wedding invitations, birthday invitations, baby announcements and so on.  We're talking high quality stuff here.  
Speaking of amazing Christmas cards, check these out.  Seriously, these are perfect for my family!  How cute would my fellas look on this card?!  Plus, it includes free recipient addressing--one more thing I could cross off of my to-do list!
As you can see there are so many reasons why I can't wait to try minted.com.  Head over, check out the site, and after you find a few things you love, make sure you look for the coupon code near the top for Black Friday specials.  
This post is sponsored by minted.com. I received a Minted credit for in exchange for my time and honest review. My love of their art and my desire to cover my walls in it are 100% my own!
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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Thrill of Shopping on Thanksgiving Eve

Sometimes, I'm good at planning and getting things done in plenty of time.  However, this week seems to be an exception.  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I hadn't yet finished my grocery shopping.  This weekend, we are hosting not one but TWO parties on Saturday and I haven't really gotten everything done for that, either.  Maybe it's because we have some family in town visiting for the holiday but it's likely that I'm just getting a bit worn out.  All work and no rest makes this lady with an autoimmune disorder feel icky.  


So on the eve of Thanksgiving, I had no choice but to venture to the grocery store.  I was prepared for the worst: food shortage on hot ticket items, long lines, irritable people....however, I didn't find any of that.  I found plenty of stuffing and gravy, I waited behind just one couple with less than 10 items, and every single employee at Food Lion was incredibly nice.  The place was packed full of people, each of them considerate of their fellow patrons.  As I stood there picking out the best apples for my famous apple pie, I stopped to look around and I smiled at what I saw.




In that grocery store was a whole host of folks picking up the last few things they needed to prepare tomorrow's big meal. Whether expecting friends or family to help carve the turkey or if each military family was going to be enjoying the holiday among those with whom they live, they were likely there to buy the fixings for Thanksgiving dinner.  And the thought of everyone making their final selections of food to prepare warmed my heart.  

I'm so blessed to have my family.  I live with four amazing fellas.  I count several military friends as part of our North Carolina family.  Part of my heart forever remains in Ohio with my parents, little brothers, nieces and nephews, and all of my extended family.  We're also so fortunate to be able to afford last minute trips to the grocery store on Thanksgiving Eve for food when others find themselves not able to do so.  

While you may find it completely silly that I was standing next to the apples deciding on Fuji, Gala, or Golden Delicious smiling all goofy like at everyone in Food Lion, that's what I did tonight.  
Now, it's on to pie making.  :)  Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Christmas Traditions, Part Two




Yesterday, I talked to you about our favorite Christmas traditions. I shared with you our list of activities that we do each year as we prepare for our most favorite family holiday. I also mentioned that we would be incorporating new traditions into our Christmas celebration this December as well.  (Please note, this post contains affiliate links.)

 
The Jesse Tree



I've heard of The Jesse Tree several times over the last few years, but I never took the time to really look into what a Jesse Tree is all about.  Essentially, the book The Jesse Tree is a story about the biblical reason for this season and a corresponding ornament to go along with each day. This year, my friend offered to include me in another friend's Jesse Tree ornament swap.  I'm a sucker for swaps so I readily accepted.   I can't wait to show off our new ornaments after the swap.  



Truth in the Tinsel



Honestly, I found Truth in the Tinsel  during a Google search and I cannot wait to get started.  It looks so fun!  It's an e-book with a page for each day of Advent.  It's easy, which I love.  It's crafty, which I love even more.  I'm very excited to spend with the boys each day learning about the real meaning for Christmas.  You just turn to the page for the day, read through it, and create something together.  You can also buy printable ornaments from the site to make your planning even easier!  Here's a list of what you'll do each day:

  • Read Together--a passage from the Bible
  • Make Together--an ornament
  • Talk About Together--discuss what you've read and made
  • Do More Together--bring the lesson into your life with practical applications


I'm very excited to get started on these books in addition to the LEGO bricks and chocolate. Have you ever read The Jesse Tree or Truth in the Tinsel? What are your thoughts?



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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Our Christmas Traditions


The first of December is ushered in with a host of excitement!  I'm a mama big on tradition.  I want for my fellas to have so many memories of a magical Christmas time in our home each year.  This year, I'm combining all of our Christmas traditions into one box that will be "delivered" on December 1.  (In the interest of full disclosure, this box might actually arrive on November 30 because that is when we are putting up our Christmas tree!!)  I want to share with you what we've done in the past and tomorrow I will tell you about what we will be adding to our Advent celebration this year. (Please note that this post contains affiliate links.)

I can't wait to share with you our Thanksgiving traditions next week, because Thanksgiving is one of my most favorite days of the year.  However, if you were hoping to start any of these traditions in your home, I wanted to be sure you had time to acquire the necessary items before December began.  On to the fun....

LEGO Advent Calendar

Each year, we have a LEGO Advent Calendar.  It's difficult to have one, single LEGO Advent Calendar because it's a fight everyday over who is getting to open the LEGO for the day.  In any case, we have that Advent calendar.  Also, if this is something you are interested in doing with your kids, please don't wait until November 30th to buy one.  It's possible you'll find them sold out in most locations (in stores and online) and have to resort to buying the set on an auction site.  And paying nearly double what it cost originally.  Don't ask me how I know this.  



Chocolate Advent Calendars 


I do buy a Chocolate Advent Calendar for each of the boys so they can open their own piece of chocolate for the day.  I suppose if you can't be the one to open the LEGO window and assemble the minifigure that day, you can at least be comforted by a piece of yummy chocolate.  Adisson's not a big chocolate fan, so I end up getting so share with him.  Love that!


Christmas Book Advent


In the few days before December 1, I wrap up 25 Christmas books in festive wrapping paper (clearly unlike what you see above--I'll be sure to get a good photo this year). They sit in a basket near the fireplace or Christmas tree.  Each day, we unwrap a Christmas book and read it together, or the boys take turns reading them aloud.  Honestly, they get pretty excited about unwrapping the books and then I have a hard time keeping their interest if it's not one of their favorite Christmas books.  I'm hoping to add to their Christmas collection this year with some better books.  Look for a book list in the coming weeks.  



Christmas Movies


We have a collection of Christmas movies and watch them all month long.  Our absolute favorites are Home Alone movies (the first and second movies are the best, in our opinion).  We love The Santa Clause movies as well. I'm pretty sure we have nearly as many Christmas movies as we do Christmas books. It's something we do together as we work on crafts and making gifts--we just get really excited to watch Christmas DVD's.


Elf on the Shelf
Each year, our Elf on the Shelf arrives with our Advent calendars.  Freddy, our cute little elf, has been around for several years.  He never ceases to amaze the kids with his antics.  I heard from Freddy a little early this year and he tells me he's arriving with a new mission this Christmas season.  He's going to show the boys how awesome it is to be nice, helpful, and considerate.  No more messes to clean up in the morning.  Sure, he'll still be funny and silly sometimes, but he wants the boys to know that he's a good, thoughtful elf now.  If you haven't already purchased an Elf on the Shelf, now would be a good time or you can look into some of the other ideas that are similar in nature.  

There you have it, our list of daily activities for December.  While we will continue with the above activities this year, I'm so excited to tell you about the new traditions we'll be starting.  I can't wait to show the boys some of the more important reasons we celebrate Christmas.  Stay tuned for tomorrow's post!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday
This past weekend, we visited Washington, D.C.  We lived near D.C. for a few years and loved the frequent trips we made to our nation's capital.  We were blessed to have a quick weekend trip for some marriage and family workshops and were thrilled that it would take place in Washington, D.C.  So here are some photos from the weekend!






















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Friday, November 14, 2014

Why I'm Shopping on Thanksgiving



I love a good deal!  A family of five living on a single income (ok, truth be told, I do work about 5 hours per week right now), I've learned to budget, stretch a dollar, save a dime, whatever you call it--that's where I aim.  When Black Friday rolls around, I don't often miss the chance to shop.  If I can't make it out, Adam saves the day by picking up the "must-haves" on my shopping list.
I'm fully aware that Black Friday has become Shop on Thanksgiving Thursday.  And I'm aware that people are rather disgruntled about the idea of retail employees missing time with their families so we can get a TV at an AMAZING price.  So a boycott is called.  "Don't shop on Thanksgiving!"  "Let people enjoy time with their families!"  Ok, I hear you.  


But....


I'm still shopping on Thanksgiving.  Where is the outcry when nurses have to work on Thanksgiving or Christmas?  Where is the boycott when the letter carrier has to miss his son's baseball game because he's delivering your mail on Saturday?  The police officer missing a dance recital, the soldier missing ....well everything, where is the demand for family time then?  

We don't say anything about that because that's the job, right?  That's what they have chosen to do--just like retail employees.  When you work in a retail establishment, especially as a seasonal employee, you have got to figure you're going to draw the short straw at some point and have to work a holiday.  

It's never fun to miss out on time when your family is gathered together.  I know this because each Thanksgiving, my family members in Ohio are gathered around tables where we won't be seated.  We aren't there to laugh over mashed potatoes, eat Granny's homemade mac-n-cheese, or watch all kids enjoy time with their cousins.  We miss out on all of that incredible food, the arguing with your bossy aunt over who's doing dishes, and then standing at the sink with your brother, soap up to our elbows, cleaning cranberry salad (because who on earth eats that stuff?!) off of Grandma's holiday plates.  If you have to miss that, I'm sorry; I know that feeling.

We won't make it home for Thanksgiving.  My husband's job as a soldier has us too far away from family to make the drive for turkey.  We have to save our time to see family over Christmas.  It makes me sad, especially since Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but that's the job, isn't it?  I mean, he chose the Army, again and again (and again). Essentially, his job is keeping us from that big family table for yet another year.  And that's just how it goes.

As I shop, I'll be courteous and kind to my cashier and other store employees that evening. I won't push or shove for a $4 mini-crockpot or shank someone for an iPad.  I'll smile and thank them for their time, though the paycheck should really do the trick.  After all, these holiday-working employees do get paid to work each time they clock in, including Thanksgiving.  If you want to boycott Wal-Mart, go ahead.  That's one less person in line in front of me.  


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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

I see it all the time on the 'net so I figured I'd give it a shot.  What is "it," you ask?  Well, it's 
Wordless Wednesday

The idea is that I post photos with no words because the picture says it all.  I hope I can showcase some more of the photos I take each week so they can live somewhere other than a file on my phone.  Here goes:











(Psssst, I've already looked it up but comment below if you know what kind of bug is pictured!)

There you have it!  My first Wordless Wednesday post.  Excited for future posts!  Next week should include some amazing pictures from our nation's capital!
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