Making Christmas Memorable for Yourself and Your Kids

Image result for christmas cheer


In this blog post, I wanted to include ways to make the Christmas holiday memorable for yourself as well because I’m finding it easier and easier for the holidays in general to lose their magic and sparkle, but I don’t think it has to! No doubt, finding ways to make it fun for our children can be easier, but I have put a list together of some ways I think the Christmas season can be a special time for parents and children alike.

1. 25 Days of Reading

Wrap 25 books for your children to open every day in December leading up to Christmas. This not only creates a fun moment your children can look forward to every day, but also ensures some family time together as you follow up with reading that book along with them.

2. Look at Christmas Lights

Growing up, I feel like some of my most favorite memories are were the ones that cost little to nothing. This can definitely be one of those memories for you and your kids! Whether it’s driving around from neighborhood to neighborhood admiring others’ hard work or seeing a professional lighting display put on in your local city or town, this can be made into a tradition I guarantee your children will remember for years to come.

3. Baking/Decorating Gingerbread House

This is a great way to stir up holiday cheer for all involved! Not only do we get the satisfaction of enjoying the fruits of our labor afterwards with either some hot cocoa or glass of milk, we also got to have fun as a family being in the kitchen together laughing and making memories.

4. Watch ALL the Christmas Movies

I exaggerate a little, but really, watch a bunch of movies together! Sometimes watching a favorite Christmas movie can be just the thing to help us parents also get more in the Christmas spirit. Do this with your kids but also with your spouse after your kids have gone to bed. Holiday cheer between adults is super important and fun too!

5. Decorate!

I want to start off with this, more or less, obvious way to make Christmas memorable for your family by saying that I feel like there should be no rules when it comes to this. This year, we decided to put our Christmas tree up a couple weeks before Thanksgiving. Some may think this is too early, and that’s just fine for them to think. But in our household, it’s extending our favorite time of the year and allowing us to enjoy the beauty of the lights on the tree even longer! Since my daughter, Isla, is only a year and a half old, she isn’t able to help put ornaments on the tree yet, but this is definitely a tradition we look forward to continuing through the years!

6. Be Generous

Tis the season to be generous to others. Create opportunities for your kids to watch you giving to others whether it’s through giving presents, your time, or even just kindness (especially when we want to be impatient or rude to the people crowding the grocery stores and shopping malls–where did all these people come from?!) Being able to demonstrate generosity in front of our kids is a wonderful lesson we can teach them, and there are many ways to let them join in on it too!

7. Read Luke

For this idea, read a chapter in Luke from the Bible every day in December. There are 24 chapters, so you can get through the whole book together as a family by Christmas. Luke 2 contains the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth, and the rest of the book goes on to talk about his life on Earth. This can be a wonderful tradition to establish as a family that may even go beyond just the month of December! If your family isn’t already in the habit of reading Scripture together, this is great way to incorporate it long-term within your daily routine.

8. Fill in the Blank

Incorporate any other Christmas traditions that have been passed down through your families that you want to hold onto. It can be anything! It’ll be special to you because of fond memories from your past while creating new memories with your children.

I hope this list gives you some ideas if you are feeling stumped this Christmas season. It can feel like it’s a lot easier for children to get into the holiday spirit, and while that may be true, I think it’s also important for them to see their parents taking part in Christmas cheer. It doesn’t hurt if we find ourselves a little less stressed and overwhelmed because of it too!

I’m Grateful For…

Past memories during my childhood that helped to shape my fondness towards Christmastime and the wonderful opportunities that I have no to pass down a lot of those same traditions to my children.

Baby #2 On The Way!

My husband and I recently announced that in April 2020, we will be a family of 4! It’s so exciting to think of Isla being a big sister. We don’t know if we are having a boy or girl yet, but we hope to find out in a few weeks. We are so grateful to be going through this again. I know that pregnancy can be difficult and frustrating at times as you can feel totally out of control of your own body, but I never want to take this for granted either.

I’m getting ready to enter my second trimester, and this pregnancy is definitely going by quickly. Staying busy with my 17 month old will do that! So far, I’m finding it to be very true that your belly can pop a lot faster the second time around! I feel like I started to look pregnant around 8 weeks. Needless to say, I’ve already been slathering the stretch mark lotion on for weeks now.

Overall, there is so much joy and love surrounding this little baby. We can’t wait to welcome him/her into our home. Ross and I feel more relaxed this time around for sure. We are also praying that this baby is super relaxed and loves to sleep! Regardless of how much or how little sleep we get, we feel so blessed to be entrusted with the precious life. You are so loved little one!

Road Trip Hack (I Never Thought I’d Use!)

I was a little nervous about the long day on the road ahead of us leaving for Arkansas (about 12 hours including breaks). Isla hardly likes to be in the car for more than a few minutes sometimes. This time, however, we downloaded some shows that she likes and bought a headrest iPad holder, and let me tell you, that thing was a life saver! It really cut down on the amount of time that she fussed, which helped Ross and myself stay sane!

Our trip was going to consist of a lot of going out to eat, which also made me nervous since Isla really doesn’t like sitting still for long. Since we were on vacation and figured all rules were going out the window anyway as far as screen time, we decided to use the iPad during meals as well. I never thought that would be me as a parent, but here we are. She survived, we survived, and we’re all fine and adjusting to our normal routine now that we’re back home (no more iPad for a long time!)

When going on any sort of vacation with little children, it can be hard to find a balance when you’re wanting to enjoy your time as well while balancing tantrums and correcting wrong behavior constantly. Distractions can be helpful but also trying to make sure that your kids are doing plenty of things that are fun for them as well is what will make the time away more enjoyable. This is also coming from a mom of one child who is less than 2. I’m sure when there is a sibling in the picture and she’s a little older, I’ll have more hacks that’ll hopefully work even better!

The Truth About My Hair

Postpartum hair loss has been real for me. 15 months after Isla was born, I faced the truth—I needed to cut my hair…short. To be honest, I was a little nervous but mostly excited to embrace a new change! Nothing like postpartum hormones forcing me to get a new “do”!

My hair has been breaking off so bad, and I had my hair in either a ponytail or bun for months leading up to my hair cut. The length that my hair did have wasn’t even worth holding on to. It was thin and see-through, and severe breakage created some super short looking layers.

Outside of hormones, I’ve also considered that I need to increase my intake of nutrient dense foods that contain iron, zinc, and omega-3s, so I’ve added things like flax and chia seeds to my oatmeal in the morning, for example.

Everyone’s postpartum hair journey is different, and this has been eye opening for me. I wasn’t aware just how much the breakage and thinning out of my hair prevented me from feeling like I’m fully recovered from having a baby. I’m more accepting of where I’m at in my road to recovery, and I’m just going to embrace this shorter hairstyle for a while!

Get Your Sun!

I was laying outside while Isla was napping today, and as I was feeling just so thankful to feel the sun on my face, I remembered how this time last year felt very different.

My husband and I moved 3 1/2 hours away from our family 6 weeks after our daughter was born for a job opportunity. We were nervous to move away but also excited that it allowed for me to be a stay at home mom. Our time away from family in Paducah, KY only last a couple months (for reasons that unfolded while we were there), but it was not a walk in the park at all. In fact, a walk in the park is literally all I wanted to be able to do. We lived in the second floor of an apartment building, and it was the middle of summer, so the days were extremely hot. We have a small dog, and she maybe went out once a day while Ross was at work. It was all I could do to scoop up Isla, put Ella on a leash, and walk down the steps to let Ella do her business as quickly as possible so I could run back into my apartment. Looking back, I can see just how fearful I was of everything. Our complex had a pool and we went there maybe twice. I thought that going to the pool was “getting out” and I’d be so proud of myself. Being a new mom in a new city was probably the hardest thing I’ve done. Isla was very fussy, I never drove anywhere because the car would get so hot from being outside, Isla would cry the entire 5 minute drive to get coffee, and nothing seemed worth it to me.

I remember Ross coming home one day, and I told him I hadn’t felt the sun in what felt like days. He was shocked and immediately encouraged me to go outside on a little walk while he stayed with Isla. Do you ever feel instant relief from stress when you walk outside and just absorb the sun? This summer, I’m allowing myself to feel those positive effects that being outside can give me and thanking God for those moments. I don’t take them for granted anymore! In the future if I have any more babies, I am going to take those moments, daily if possible, to go outside for a walk or even just to stand in the sunlight. And if any of you are a mom-to-be or have ever struggled with PPD, start with going outside and let someone watch your baby for a few minutes even, if you’re able. It’s not a cure-all, but it’s a start!

Date Night!

During my birthday weekend, we had Isla’s grandparents watch her not just once, but twice! That is rare for this momma! One time it was for a dinner date with just me and Ross, and the other time was for a double date with my sister and her husband.

My heart didn’t realize how badly I needed that! It was such a reset for me to leave Isla for a couple hours, knowing that she was having a blast, and spend some time with my husband with my undivided attention. I really hope to make this more of a routine! Even though I know there are people that would love to watch Isla, I feel like I have to be so selective as to when I use those “cards” so that I don’t wear anyone out. I know that’s not how people actually feel, but I can convince myself otherwise at times.

Not only do Ross and I need that time together, it’s also so healthy for Isla to have time away from me too! We struggle with getting her to stay in the nursery at church right now, and I’m hoping consistency and patience will help her to stay down there the whole time one day!

Right now I’ve only had Isla’s aunts and grandparents watch her, and I know the day is coming when I may need to hire a sitter to stay with her, so I’m wondering how you guys have helped your kids be ok with a sitter who isn’t family watch them?

My new tip for getting in date nights (or date days if your schedule allows!) is to put it on the calendar! Schedule that sitter or grandparent to watch your kids as much as weeks in advance if you can and let it be something that you really look forward to! Spontaneous date nights aren’t as guaranteed to happen, so be sure to plan ahead for those couple of hours of kid free time to reconnect as a couple.

Self-care Anyone?

So I’m a clean person and I take basic care of myself. But have you ever experienced times where you just seem to be falling apart and need to up your self-care game in order to keep up? Well, that’s been me for the last couple months. But I haven’t been investing the time or money in myself to fix those things that have been needing extra attention. It can be so hard for me to justify it sometimes!

My youngest sister texted me the other day saying, “take care of yourself.” And it kinda stuck in my head. Why is such a basic concept becoming more and more foreign? Needless to say, the theme of self-care was carried out during my birthday when I opened my presents from my sisters and got all kinds of fun shower/bath goodies. Ok guys-I’m getting the point!

But in all seriousness, I am getting the point. My random patches of eczema that I’ve never dealt with before, extreme thinning of the hair, painful razor bumps (change out your razors ladies), and exhaustion are wearing me down and keeping my mind occupied on those things instead of my husband, precious baby, and anything else that is more worth thinking about.

As moms, wives, sisters, daughters, and friends, we wear many hats! A lot of people need us throughout our day, and we can tend to forget that we can’t fire on all cylinders if the tank is drained. Self-care is not equivalent to selfishness and is a healthy practice to start if you haven’t already. You are worth the time and money to make sure you feel your best. After all, if you aren’t cared for, how can you care for others well? If someone hasn’t told you lately, well, “take care of yourself!”

Rough Weekend

You all, I’m realizing that the longer I am a mom, the more help I need! Over the weekend, Isla ran a low fever mixed with congestion. It just sounded like she could hardly breathe while laying down. She sounded so pitiful. I did everything I knew how to help relieve her discomfort. And it still wasn’t working. Night #2 of not being able to get any sleep made me lose my patience so much faster. I hate when that happens because I know Isla doesn’t want to be in her situation either and not being able to communicate clearly what’s bothering her makes it even more difficult.

As I was grumbling on my way to Isla’s room at 1:30 in the morning after hearing her cry for a few minutes through the monitor, Ross reminded me not to do anything out of anger. It was what I needed to remember that none of us are going to act our best when deprived of sleep. Before going into her room, I felt a patience come over me and I rocked her in my arms for 45 minutes as she fell back asleep for the rest of the night. She even slept in the next morning! Praise the Lord! These moments continue to remind me that in the thick of the hardest moments, remember that it’s only temporary. You’ll never regret those moments where you dug deep and prayed that the Lord would give you the strength to show unconditional love and kindness even when you’re sleep deprived.

I know I need to continue to lean on my husband for help when I’m feeling physically and mentally weak. Similarly, I want to rely on my fellow momma friends who go through the same things that I do! We may not all have the same triggers, but we all experience those moments where we feel like we’re about to snap. And I’ll be the first to say if you are ever in that moment, reach out please! Us moms need to stick together! My goal is to continue to have less and less of these moments lacking in love and patience, and I desire encouragement and accountability as well.

Zoo Day

This week Isla and I were invited to join my friend Elise and her daughter Maddie at the zoo. My mother-in-law, Karla, and sister-in-law, Rachel, were able to join as well, and I’m so glad we went! Sometimes I need a push to get outside of my typical routine with Isla, and I’m always so glad I end up doing it.

The word “perfect” describes the whole experience. It wasn’t very busy, the weather was absolutely amazing, they gave us free Dippin’ Dots, and our kids had zero meltdowns and were happy the whole time.

There were many moments during the day where I just smiled and thought about how thankful I am to have these opportunities during the day with family and friends because I stay at home with my daughter. I realized how grateful I am to be able to make these precious memories every single day. My dreams of motherhood are being realized right before me, and I need to be present in every moment!

Isla is growing up so so fast. She amazes me with all that she picks up on constantly. And I am so excited to make outings like going to the zoo something we do more often.

Forever my Baby

Today I went in your room to check on you after having quiet time for about 15 minutes. I walked in and almost started to cry. All throughout the day you’re so busy exploring, walking, talking, eating, smiling, that you had me fooled into thinking that you were such a big girl. Part of that is because you are such a big girl. But when I walked into your room today and saw you sleeping so peacefully, I saw someone who is still just my baby girl. Please don’t grow up too fast. I love watching you learn and grow and figure out everything about this world, but we should not wish time away or want to speed up the process. During those moments where I watched you rest today, I wanted time to stand still. Next month we celebrate your first birthday and I am so excited.

You have a certain smile that you give when you are super proud of yourself. It is very distinct and it cracks me up every time I see it. I mostly see it when you learn new things like walking, figuring out where the Tylenol is so you can see if there’s any extra medicine to suck out of the syringe, and figuring out how to push a button on a toy to make it turn on. I love that smile because it’s yours, and I now understand when other parents who have given me wisdom before you were born say that time goes by so fast and to enjoy each moment because in the blink of an eye they will be all grown, and for me, I’m not sure I’m ready for that. I probably won’t ever be ready for that. But please always give me that smile to reassure me that it’s just part of life, and I need to put on my happy smile too because I am so so proud of you and I love you more than you’ll ever know.

Written March 27, 2019