Journaling My Christmas {Day 18}

025Christmas dinner… for one thing, it’s never quite what I picture. The kids are tired, I’m done with entertaining… seems like it should be a lot more magical than it typically is.

My awesome employer gives us a ham or turkey every year. I love, love, love the ham.  It’s just right for dinner after a long day of doing nothing and goes well with the mashed potatoes, peas and rolls that are required by tradition.

This is the first year that I am doing a gluten-free holiday.  This will mainly affect rolls and cookies.  I am curious to see how GF cookies turn out in particular.  My kids are a little ticked that I am doing ONLY GF but I want to eat them too so they need to get past it.  My goal is lower carbs in general, but Christmas cookies are totally essential, and that’s what New Year’s resolutions are for. 😉  I need to figure out spritz, fudge (no gluten there, but need to make it without hfcs and such) and either sugar cookies or angeletti.

The best part about a GF holiday?  Less tiredness, achiness and general dragginess after a holiday meal. That’s the wheat, y’all…  hate to say it.

(Pic above, Ian wishes the giant fake candycanes were real!)

Journaling My Christmas {Day 17}

Love IanWhat’s left?  Christmas Eve is a week away!

Gifts – grandmother’s flower order. I always do that around this time.  School did not do the Santa shop like they have in the past, so I did an emergency last minute Amazon order so the boys would have gifts for aunts, grandparents, each other, etc.  So those need to be wrapped, just when I thought I was done.

Got to figure out meals for Christmas and cookies/treats.  Gluten free, of course.

School party needs done.  Work is just not getting finished up. I am trying to get out for a 12 day vacation and work keeps bubbling up.  Nothing I do finishes it.

My house is trashed.  I need to spend all day Saturday cleaning so I can socialize and host here for 4 days.

Is that it? It feels like much, much more.  I got up 4 am last few nights because my mind is tumbling with to-do’s and unfinished work projects.  I don’t like doing that, nothing can get done at 4 am but stressing.


(Pic of the day – card from Ian on my Christmas gift. Love that boy so much it’s not even funny.)

Some fun free ebooks

As always – check the price before purchasing to make sure  it’s still free.  And remember – you don’t need a kindle to grab these books.  You can read them on your computer with the free download, or with an app on your phone.

I’ve been dying to try make lotions from scratch so I grabbed this the second I saw it.

Body Lotions :The Ultimate Guide

This looks like a fun fiction read. I have had difficulty making time for fiction lately – hopefully this will keep my attention.


I have no idea how funny this is, but I grabbed it to see what the kids think. Both boys get a kick out of jokes lately so they may have fun with this. If it isn’t funny, don’t blame me!

Christmas Jokes

A few free Kindle ebooks

As always – check the price before purchasing to make sure  it’s still free.  And remember – you don’t need a kindle to grab these books.  You can read them on your computer with the free download, or with an app on your phone.

I am fascinated by the theories behind self control and will power so of course I grabbed these 2 books.

Willpower NOW: How to Develop Instant Willpower & Self Discipline Through The Power of Effective Self Control Techniques (Willpower, Self Control, Procrastination, Time Management, Self Discipline)

Memory Improvement NOW: Proven Strategies to Increase Your IQ & Unleash Memory Improvement Through the Power of Effective Brain Training (Memory Improvement, … Training, Neuro Linguistic Programming, NLP)

I am working through a crochet tutorial online (slowwwwwly) but like having all the resources I can find at hand.

How to Crochet for Beginners: A Quick and Easy Step-By-Step Guide Book on Crocheting for Novices

I heart Paleo books – I’m not where I want to be yet but the more information the better!

Eating Well: The Beginners Guide to eating well with the Paleo Diet (Special Diet, Paleo Diet)

If someone won’t come clean my house for me magically, I guess I could use some house cleaning tips. Especially speed cleaning so I can get on with my weekend.

How to Clean Your House: Clean Your House Better and Faster in Just 30 Minutes (Home Solutions)

Journaling My Christmas {Day 11}

Amazingly, I have everything wrapped! That is usually what I am struggling to do at the last minute – I order all the gifts and have them in hand weeks in advance but somehow fail to wrap til Christmas Eve. Somehow on Sunday I got inspired and found boxes and bags and paper for it all, and actually did something with it.

The fact that I have everything looking all pretty under my tree just amazes me!

Now, this is an easy year because I did do some gift cards, and of course Santa brings everything for the boys so not much to wrap there.

I do love Christmas paper but I’ve reached a point where I have a whole bin full and use, what, a roll plus a few bags a year? I have enough to last a decade so what I need to remember is to not buy anything on clearance after Christmas. Even if it’s super cute.

(Pic of the day – for some reason they have been coloring in bed and falling asleep with a bed full of pencils. Ouch.)

sleeping with pencils

A few free Kindle books

Sauteed :The Ultimate Recipe Guide – Over 30 Delicious & Best Selling Recipes

I’m always looking for new ways to cook veggies!

5 Secrets of Goal Setting

This might be a good one for New Year’s resolutions.

Cats! (Discover Your World Series)

My 5 year old is obsessed with kitties – he will love this one!

NOTE: All these books are free as of this writing, but prices can change any time so please check the price before ordering.

Journaling My Christmas {Day 8}

006-001Today’s topic is the Christmas Tree, but the homily at Mass today took me in a slightly different direction.  I am working on evolving some memorable holiday traditions for my kids to look back on and maybe pass to their kids some day.  We do some stuff that they really enjoy – the Advent candles, elf, special trip for the live Christmas tree on the first Sunday of Advent…  Many of ornaments have stories or special meaning and I try to buy something new every year for the Christmas tree.  Next year I also want to start the St. Nick tradition of leaving small gifts in their shoes.

At Mass they talked about the Jesse Tree tradition. Each day focuses on a Bible verse related to Jesus’ family tree, and traces the history through the generations. The tree has a small ornament for each day – it’s typically a tabletop tree and a family activity.  The kids can make the ornaments and I think we could even make some kind of tree together.  I’m going to find a book and make sure that I have everything lined up to introduce this tradition next year. I think the kids will be old enough to understand the stories and follow along, especially Alexander.


Journaling My Christmas {Day 7}

Sensory overload

Seeing…  lots of lights when we drive home after dark.  Looking for the star on the side of Signal Mountain (does some still light that?  I remember it from when I was a kid.)

Hearing…songs that I love. My children have adopted my love of the Band-Aid song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”  Plus anything from the A Very Special Christmas CD from the 80s.  I need to get Annie Lennox’s album too. But I digress….

Smelling… well, the tree obviously. The distinct smell of cold air with fireplace smoke in it.  The very distinct smell of snow coming, which we don’t smell often in December here.

Feeling… cold air, or warm air with a storm coming.  Or both in one day, somehow.  Warm blankets in my old, cold house.

Tasting… something new this year!  The old treats won’t work anymore so I’m learning how to do Christmas baking all over again. But hot chocolate still works the same.  And wine too.

(Today was Alexander’s First Reconciliation, so here’s a picture of him lighting his candle. Below that a link to Band Aid’s video, because Simon le Bon.)

First Reconciliation

Journaling My Christmas {Day 6}

Christmas Cozy….

  • Getting home when it’s almost dark, and turning on lights in a warm house
  • Surprising the kids with hot chocolate
  • Buttered popcorn and Christmas movies
  • Slippers and fleece blankets in the middle of the day
  • The light from the Christmas tree
  • The smell of the Christmas tree
  • A hot dinner waiting after Christmas Eve Mass
  • My warm bed on cold winter mornings


(Today’s picture is cozy  – 2 sweet boys snuggled up watching cartoons.)


Journaling My Christmas {Day 5}

Christmas cutenessChristmas cards…  eek. When I first had kids, I enjoyed taking them to get a Christmas picture taking and using those pictures for cards.  After a few years, my budget got tighter and I found less time to schedule picture sessions, so I started taking the picture myself and ordering cards online.  That worked well and I actually ended up with some decent pictures. Some years were better than others, of course, and the kids were more cooperative some times than others.

This year, I got a good head start on the pictures, but I was underwhelmed by how they turned out.  The boys were in a strange mood that day, and my vision of a nice downtown background turned out kind of dismal looking.  I tried and tried to tuck those pictures into an online template and nothing quite worked.  I haven’t found time to take more pictures, either.

So this will be the year that I kind of miss the picture cards.  I like looking back at the pictures for each year, so I’m kind of bummed. But not bummed enough to stress myself out over it. I have a stash of regular store cards that are cute, so I’ll use those this year.  That way I’m saving a bit of money, too.  I have school pictures that I can enclose for the relatives I know expect pictures.

This is a good example of letting go at Christmas – we can’t do it all every single year – some years we have to let go of certain things. This year it’s the cards.  On the fun side, I’m going to have my kids sign each card themselves – because everyone writes their name quite nicely now!

(2 pictures tonight.  The daily picture of cuteness at the top of the post, and the Christmas card picture that wasn’t below.)