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.)


Journaling My Christmas {Day 4}

taekwondo snowmanI remember the year I got a dollhouse.  My parents made it from scratch from a kit of some sort.  I must have been 9 or 10?  It was so amazingly cool!  Gingerbread trim, wallpaper inside.  It wasn’t the plastic, barbie type you see all over the place now. They had to stay up late at night and probably cuss a lot to assemble the thing but it dazzled me on Christmas morning.  Absolute perfection.

This had to have been 30-35 years ago and I have brought it with me through many life phases.  I still have it today, it’s my laundry room waiting for me to do something with it.  Some of the gingerbread trim fell off, there is no furniture and the wall paper screams “cusp of the 70s and 80s”.

I keep it though and I will restore it one of these days.  As a child I loved tiny things and miniatures.  I wanted to collect little bits of furniture and tiny dressed-up mice.  I think that love is still within me – a couple years ago I visited a new client and was in awe when I realized they were running a miniature shop.  I ooh and ahhed over their creations on display.  I also love the idea of fairy gardens – the potted gardens with little gazebos and tiny tea sets for fairies.

Writing this inspires me to look at how I can refurbish my old dollhouse. I’ll need to find parts, and figure out how to fix the broken pieces.  I am sure it will take some investment of cash and time, but what a wonderful way to revisit the loves of my childhood and the time my parents spent on a Christmas gift for me that year.

(Daily picture – taekwondo ornament, because we love TKD around here!)

Journaling My Christmas {Day 3}

002I normally like a low-key Christmas season – I prefer to keep the list of events I commit to kind of short.  I’m an introvert, which means I always feel better if I have time to recharge. This is twice as important to me during the holiday season.

However, every year it feels like way more events pop up than I originally expected and this is compounded by my kids being older and developing social lives of their own.  We have school stuff, church stuff, events for my work plus family and friends.

I try my best to keep in mind that it’s OK to pick and choose – it’s OK to say no to some of the events. They all look fun and I’d love to spend time with all these people but some years it’s just not possible!  Some are a must – we have to go see Santa at some point this month.  I look forward to our annual brunch at work and of course all the parties and pageants at school.

As much as I love all the festivities I also do my best to make time for quiet, unplanned time with my kids watching Christmas movies and eating buttery popcorn.

(The photo for the day is self explanatory, I think.)

Journaling My Christmas {Day 2}

060I remember the Christmas season being some how colder, crisper and brighter than it is today. Well, it’s stillcold a lot of the time (I don’t believe in global warming) but something seemed more vivid – the night stars were bright – cookies were cookier… huh?  I remember getting dressed to go to a party at my school, and how much I loved my lacy/velvet 70s dress.  Was it velvet?   I probably had white tights and Mary Janes because that’s how we rolled.  I remember cookies with those little silver beads on them – what are those called?

Somehow the smells seemed unique to the time – the scent of a fireplace fire (which I’d love to have now), maybe hot apple cider or simmering spices.  Frankincense and myrrh.

Funny how our mind can do a good job at remembering the fleeting details – the smells, the texture of the cookies and the feel of the cold night air, but the specifics are long gone.  Maybe it’s the impressions and feelings that matter for the long run.

(The picture above is a note that Ian left under the tree for Santa.)