25 days of Christmas List

(download this photo for free here!)
The girls in my new home group are totally responsible for this idea.  :)  I know a good thing when I hear it!  I was listening to their conversation about making a "25 days of Christmas" list to do with their children and families and spoke up, saying I'd had every intention of doing such a thing last year but a lot of the activities just didn't happen.  

This year we're in a much different season as a family.  The girls are older obviously and can handle more "big girl" types of fun than they could previously.  So I'm very excited to give this idea another go!  Just a little extra something each day to make Christmas and the arrival of the winter season seem just as it is…….magical.  

Here's a look at our list for the season.  Many of these might sound a bit vague to you, (like Snowman Day) but I like it that way.  It leaves room for each family to customize the day to fit their needs.  A lot of these ideas are crafts or simple activities to do at home with the girls and some are family outings we'll take together on the weekends. 

I'm not about doing more or rushing more but I am looking forward to being more intentional about including extra pockets of joy during the month of December!  If things start to feel too stressed or rattled or forced….easy enough, we just skip that day's activities-no big deal! 

I have a few other ideas on how to teach the girls about giving that aren't included on this list.  I'm eager to share those with you soon as well! 

You are welcome to download this photo to print out for yourself! You can find it on my flickr page here.

Happy 25 days of Christmas!

Decorating for Christmas! (the tree! the lights! the sparkle!)

Friends, we decorated "early" this year and I only let it slip a tiny bit on IG.  People really get their feathers ruffled over early decorating.  With all the sadness that's in the news, I find it one of the silliest things ever (in the history of ever) to fuss about who decorates when.  My grandparents leave their Santa Clauses up in their living room year-round and I love it.  But I figured with Thanksgiving over I could finally come clean and confess we decorated for Christmas a whole week BEFORE Thanksgiving even arrived.  Shocking!  I can hear the gasping from the crowd even as I type that very sentence. :) 
In all seriousness, we found ourselves on a rainy Saturday evening wanting to stir up some fun.  I convinced Brett to get the tree down from the attic, even saying "You can watch football after even! Just please get it down?"  Of course, sweet husband he is, he would have gotten it down anyway without the thrown in football bribery.  I put the tree up (it's artificial) and strung lights on it as quickly as I could because the girls were hopping with excitement, eager to get their hands on the boxes of ornaments.

We don't have fancy ornaments or a themed tree.  We don't usually buy new ornaments.  My goal for the tree was to delight the girls to no end with it.  To let them decorate it, let them feel each ornament and enjoy the process and the tree the whole season long.  So, if you're looking for a perfectly styled tree, this isn't it! 

See how much fun decorating the tree can be?! 
I truly did enjoy this time with my girls.  It was one of my top favorite tree-decorating memories yet…right up there with my memories of decorating the tree as a child.  We always turned Christmas music on, had hot cocoa, and spent time together as a family. 

Since the tree has been decorated it's been "redecorated" by my two stylists more times than I can count.  And at our house, with ages two and three, that's ok with me. 
I threw this little mantle together that evening…and loved it. 
(is that bad to say?  I hope not.  I think everyone should love their home!)
A cozy, warm evening at home….
Here's a sunny peek during the day! I was going to wait 'till the house was perfectly cleaned to take these pictures and then in the next second realized how utterly ridiculous that is and totally not the point of my blog at all.  So what you can't see here is how dirty the house is. :) 

 This mantle is homemade and thrifted….as usual.   I made the paper trees, the painted paper decorations on the tailgate, and the branch tree!
This little tree was so much fun to make! It's simply branches attached with fabric and string and ribbon and all the good stuff.  Anthropologie has a lot of branch type decor this year for like close to $100.  I'm thinking the free branches from my yard sound a lot nicer. 
The other spot I restyled for winter is this one.  I suppose looking at this picture I seem to have hearts already prepared for Valentine's Day as well… Those are actually our thank-you hearts.  I'll write about them soon, for now we're just now putting them into action.  

I plan to string some lights on the front porch and maybe decorate another area or two in the house.  As always, I like to decorate in a kid-friendly and budget-friendly way.  And time friendly! If you're a mama, you know how most of our days are spent on simply keeping things running: laundry, dishes, cooking three meals a day, teaching kiddos, etc….

but I also love a pretty house.  I hope to show there is a way to have both! :) 

I'll leave you with a favorite….a huge, make tears fill my eyes, favorite.

{Happy} Thanksgiving and my Betsy's 2nd birthday!

Today is not only an extra-special day for giving thanks,
it's also my Betsy Grace's 2nd birthday! 

Many words are stored and mulled over and reflected on in my mind about last year and the specialness of Betsy Grace and how I've had the honor of watching her fully step into her.  Not just a baby personality…but a Betsy Grace personality. 

For today, let's dance and giggle and celebrate.  Let's chase and laugh and wear party hats.  Sing happy birthday 'till we're hoarse.  Cheer and clap and gulp back tears at the amazing bucketfuls of thanks we have to give for the hand of God on our lives over the last year.   Let's show gratitude for this sweet, happy, mama's girl named Betsy Grace. 

A winter list.

fuzzy socks
overcast days
piles of wood
warmth of the fire
two, then three cups of coffee
your frosty breath suspended in air
steam billowing from your tea cup
frost plus sunshine=sparkle
slowing down
snuggling under piles of quilts
a sleeping cat at your feet
lamps, lamps, and more lamps
the scent of homey candles
cold toes
gathering: wood, friends, presents, thanks
doing less but living more
starting over
bare trees
embracing the dark by adding more light
twinkly stars
movie watching
book reading
baking lessons
the anticipation of snow
the rhythm of building fires
simmering pots of soup
staying home
decorating for Christmas
Jesus talk
getting back to the basics, like friends and family
Christmas movies
Christmas music
brightly colored birds against grey skies
birds flying in a "v"
checking the mail
saying yes
saying no
being still
playing chase and hide-and-go-seek
football watching
early bedtime
thinking less
enjoying more
shadows and light
finding shelter and warmth inside

This is our winter.

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