Holiday Recap…

Something fun to start with… We woke up to this on New Year’s Eve.  I love the milder fall and winter that NM has to offer, but it sure was nice to see this white stuff covering the ground.



Now that the Holidays are over, and my decorations are all put away… I couldn’t get them down fast enough!  I have had the chance to reflect on it all.

The other day I read a Facebook post someone wrote about how you should never feel guilty because you can’t keep up with the so-called “Pinterest Mom”.  As I read it, I thought that was so true.  I’ve always believed that you should always be the authentic you.  Never feel like you’re not doing enough for your kids, as long as you are giving them all the love that you can.  Because that’s all they really need.

Then after my company left, I got a big wake up call… I realized that was me!!!  I am not trying to keep up with anyone else I know or have seen personally, I am trying to keep up with myself!  This voice and vision in my head of what I think I should be doing.  I love to craft, hand make gifts, bake and make candy.  It really makes me happy.  I feel like that when I give a home/handmade gift, it is more personal.

But then as I look back on the past 6 weeks or so, I have not sat down and enjoyed hardly a single moment of this Holiday season.  I have worked so hard on making gifts and planning and doing our family activities that I feel like I missed a lot of it.  While I was working hard to make everyone else’s Christmas special, I forgot about me.  I’m sure that sounds selfish, and I LOVE doing what I’ve done.  But I had this vision of sitting with the kids, watching Christmas movies, drinking hot cocoa and knitting.  The one thing I wanted, I never did.

And then all of the company… from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

Let me first say that we love our family and we are so blessed to have family that would want to spend their Holidays with us.  The kids love it!!  And we had a lot of fun during their visits.  (I’m sure my mom and sisters are laughing wondering what they’re going to read next!!)

But, aside from the normal busyness that accompanies the Holidays, it is Drew’s absolute most crazy time at work.  So in turn that is harder at home for me.  He gets busier at work, when I get busier at home trying to do all the normal things, plus get all the Christmas stuff done.  And then we add company to that and all that goes into getting ready for and planning for them, then entertaining while their here. Whew!  So, at the end of everyday we are just totally exhausted!! That then can be perceived by guests that they aren’t welcome, which is absolutely not the case.

So, while we love our families and appreciate the visits, we have decided that the Holidays are not the best time for us to have company…  From Thanksgiving-December 26th. After that we would love to have visitors, especially for Reese’s birthday.

And as much as I love making a memorable December for my kiddos with our Daily Activities, I think I’m going to have to make adjustments there too.  We may just do them on the weekends.  And maybe during the week, we can just really focus on having a good dinner together and reading Christmas books before bed.

As for all of the homemade gifts… we’ll see how I’m feeling next fall. 😉

I am a firm believer that when something isn’t working that you need to acknowledge it and make the adjustments that are necessary.  We started that a few years ago, and apparently we still are learning what works for our family.

I have big plans for my 2013, and I think I’ve finally decided on my “word” for the year.  I’ll write more on that next.

Here’s a pic of one project that is high on my list.  For me!! 🙂


I hope you all have had a great start to your year!!




December Countdown- Day 3 & Day 4

Sorry I missed yesterday… it was one of those left dishes in the sink and went to bed kind of nights.  So this post will include days 3 & 4.

Day 3:


This particular activity may not seem exciting to some of you, but in Baylee’s words… “What?! We get to watch a movie on a school night!?!?”  You see, starting Sunday evening to Friday at 5pm, there is no TV in our house for Garner and Baylee.  Reese gets a little bit, since she’s still home all day.  Though today, we didn’t turn it on at all! Yay!!  Anyways, it’s a really big deal for them.  It was probably really good for me too, to just stop for a little while.

Here there are enjoying their popcorn!


Day 4:


So, if you’re confused by this… don’t feel bad, so were my kids.  Usually I go and buy their Christmas PJs for them.  Maybe would have surprised them before bed.  But this year, all three seem to be in-between sizes.  I needed them to go with me so we knew what would fit.  So, we met Drew at Children’s Place to get their annual fleece jammies.  And since they went with us, they got to pick out what colors they wanted.  Garner was the only one that picked a different color than I would have… I would have chosen blue.  They were pretty excited.  And, I went ahead and let them wear them tonight, instead of washing them first.

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After shopping we went to Chick-fil-A for dinner and walked into this…

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And here they are all ready for bed!!


Night night from the Darling Kids!!



December Countdown- Day 2


Today we decorated the tree!!  At least with ornaments.  We will give it the finishing touches later in the week.

This was always a fun tradition growing up.  It was fun seeing our ornaments from previous years and remembering who and/or where they came from.  I’m not sure about my sisters, but I was alway very particular about where my ornaments were hung on the tree.  My “baby’s 1st Christmas” ornament was always near the top… and though it’s  not my favorite ornament for looks, it seems to have the most sentiment.

Now, with an almost 3, 5, and a 8 year old… it’s almost more stressful than it is fun. (I wonder if my parents felt that way until we got older.)  They were just all so excited and have no patience.  But in the end, I am glad they helped and I know they had a great time.  There are sections that are really crammed, mainly at the bottom…  But, it’s perfect and they are very proud of it!


It’s hard to get pictures when you’re busy helping, so that’s all I was able to get.  More and more I am finding that I want a new camera… Digital SLR, maybe Santa will bring me one next year.

Tomorrow, I will be putting a tree up in our bedroom.  It is my favorite room in our house, it’s very spacious but also cozy.  A Christmas Tree and a fireplace both glowing in the dark… sounds perfectly romantic to me.

Here’s a quick pic from dinner tonight… Reese’s first corn-on-the-cob!  It was a big hit!


We had a great start to our week and I hope you all did too!



The Countdown Begins!!


The countdown to the most Magical day of the year, has begun… at least for children.  I remember when I was growing up the anticipation of Christmas morning was so exciting.  Laying in bed trying to stay awake to hear the reindeer’s hoofs on the roof, then waking up to all of those gifts left under the tree and stockings overflowing. And to be repetitive, it was Magical.  I of course knew what the REAL meaning of Christmas was, and as a family we participated in all church activities.  I wish I had the picture of one play I participated in… if I remember correctly, the costume/uniform was awesome! 😉  We spent time with family, friends and each other.  I loved it!!

Now that I’m a parent I want  this time of year to be just as magical for my children.  Christmas morning was different for me and my husband growing up.  Santa was a big deal in my family, usually brought the “big” gift and more.  My husband’s big gifts usually came from his parents and Santa filled stockings and brought a little something.  Therefore when we began this magical responsibility as parents we had to decide which route to take.  Being that I’m the one that takes care of the planning and most of the shopping… we do it more like my parents did.

So after a couple of years of just doing without much thought, and then a couple of years of falling into the materialistic part of Christmas, it was time to make some changes.  Though Santa is still big in our house, we have been working on refocusing the attention during the month of Dec to family and of course the birth of Jesus Christ.  Three years ago we started this transition, and not without family drama.  Change is hard for everyone, especially when disrupting traditions.  But it was time for us to create our own traditions for our little family.

That first year we decided that all gifts would wait until Christmas morning.  There were other factors that played into that decision… in a nutshell, by Christmas morning our children were already so overwhelmed and exhausted that we didn’t get the best of Christmas with them.  And without being overly dramatic, it was heartbreaking.  So we spent the month of december that year crafting, baking, spending time with family and then celebrated at Mass on Christmas Eve.  Then Santa came and we woke up to a day filled with gifts from him and family.  Aside from the drama and being absolutely exhausted at the end of the day… it was all worth it.  I felt very peaceful about the decisions we had made and so grateful for my husband and I coming together to make the changes that were best for our family.

Then my OCD took over last year… for all of you that know me, I’m sure you’re laughing and not surprised.  I am not sure how I came up with this.  I maybe heard it from a friend that a friend of theirs was doing it, or maybe I read a blog that mentioned it.  I don’t know, but I was all in!!  For the month of december, I planned something “Christmasy” (I like to make up words.) or family focused to do with the kids everyday.  You can see what we did last year if you look at my Dec and Jan archives… too many different posts to link them all here.  Anyways, it was awesome!!  The kids were so excited to get up every morning to read that little card with the days activity.  Some things were just things we would have done anyway, and some were new.  For 23 days, it refocused their excitement to what we were going to do TOGETHER that day.  And now for the last month or so, they have been asking me if we were going to do it again. #parent success!!



Like last year and many years before… as long as I can think back.  December 1st always is the day to start Advent Calendars.  So that’s what we did.  Cheap chocolate filled ones… and to limit the fighting for this particular thing, we got 3.  The excitement for such simple things in priceless.


I hope you all find fun ways to celebrate this month.  I will try to post everyday about our activities, and maybe pics of my december daily album.  Happy December!!!



Days of Christmas 21st-24th

Last one!!

21st Day of Christmas:  Shopping for Siblings!!  I took Garner and Baylee, separately, shopping for their siblings.  They had a $10 total limit and that included buying a gift bag to put their purchases in.  So we shopped at the Dollar store and the Dollar Bins at Michael’s.  They had  a great time!!  And they really got some pretty great things for each other.  I had already done Reese’s shopping for them. 🙂


22nd Day of Christmas:  Surprise!!!  Well, when we wrote this on the card we didn’t realize that we would be the ones that actually got the ‘surprise’ of the day.  We were woken up by Garner, who had glued his eye shut!!  With Super Glue!!!  Needless to say, that is what we dealt with all day.  His eye was completely open by Christmas… Thank Goodness!!!   We did take them to ice cream in the afternoon… the actual surprise of the day!

23rd Day of Christmas:  Christmas Lights!  We took our annual Christmas Lights drive.  We saw some pretty awesome displays!

24th Day of Christmas:  Color Gingerbread House!  This was an OK activity.  It was one of those Cardboard houses you put together.  Due to Reese’s age, we only allowed crayons.  It would have been much better with paint or markers.  I didn’t really like any of the pics from this activity, so here’s one of us watching The Night  Before Christmas!!

And that is it for the Days of Christmas!!!  We all really enjoyed having an activity to do everyday leading up to Christmas Day!  It was wonderful bonding for our family.  It made us really focus on the importance of spending time together, and not to focus on the materialistic holiday it has become for so many.  This is a tradition that will continue for years to come.  It may get a little tricky when we hit teenage years, but we are up for the challenge.  I will post a few pics of Christmas Day on another post.



Days of Christmas 17th-20th

Catch-up Part 2!

17th Day of Christmas:  We had Surprise Visitors!!  Drew’s parents came for the weekend.  It was a long few hours from the time the kids read the card to when they got here.  It was a fun surprise!

18th Day of Christmas:  Wrap Teacher Gifts! I had stuff that I had bought last year for their teachers… along with a bag full of my goodies.  They had fun wrapping the gifts themselves and writing their cards!!

19th Day of Christmas:  We read Christmas Books by the tree!  Here is the selection they chose!


20th Day of Christmas:  We watched the movie, “When Santa Comes to Town”.  I have no pics for this day. 😦

Only 1 more post to go… 21st-24th!!  YAY!!

Days of Christmas 13th-16th

Finally!!!  I am getting this done!!

13th Day of Christmas:  We had a candle light dinner!  Spaghetti was on the menu.  I wasn’t able to get very good pics… for obvious reasons. 🙂  The kids were so calm, we may have to do this more often.


14th Day of Christmas:  We had a picnic by the tree!


They were still hungry after eating EVERYTHING I had put out, so they found the crust!!

15th Day of Christmas:  We delivered goodies to our neighbors!  We had a couple that weren’t home, but we enjoyed visiting with the few that were.

16th Day of Christmas:We watched the Polar Express!!  It’s one of our favorites.  Reese loves to sit on the table to watch TV.  We can’t keep her off, so we quit fighting with her about it… for now. 😉

Sorry about the lack of details.  I just want to get these pics up… my mom keeps checking for them!!  Love you Mom!!!



12th Day of Christmas

Today’s card said,

“Gingerbread Houses! For Real This Time 🙂 ”

So tonight was the night!!!  I found the pre-made houses at Walmart, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to building them myself again.  Maybe when they get old enough to do it themselves. They were super excited!!!  Drew helped Baylee, I helped Garner… And for this I am going to let the pics tell the story!


They were so proud of them!!!  Next year I may have to make one myself!!



11th Day of Christmas

Today’s card said, “Game Night”

It is a goal of ours to have weekly Family Game Night, though we haven’t managed to accomplish that yet.  But tonight the kids chose to play Wii Bowling and Sequence for Kids.  I think those were the games we played on our last game night too.  They must like them.  🙂  Everyone had a great time, except me… I got what I think is a migraine headache.  I was able to finish bowling (and Win!), but I wasn’t able to play Sequence.  Therefore I don’t have pictures of that one.  I think Garner won that one.

We had a good night, but there was some whining coming from Baylee…  It was a great teaching opportunity to explain what being a ‘good sport’ was all about.  It’s really something we’ve never had an issue with her about.  But she’ll get lots practice in the future.  🙂

Here are a few pics of the evening…

Notice Reese in the background… that was her seat the whole time.  She would move her arm like we would to bowl and yell, “Go….”.  Then she would clap and yell, “Yay…”.  So cute!!!

Our Scorecard… Me, Baylee, Drew and Garner.  I was pretty proud of Garner, he really started to get the hang of it!  101, not too shabby for only playing the game a couple of times before.

What games do you all play for family game nights???  I would love suggestions!!!



10th Day of Christmas

Today’s card said, “Gingerbread Houses”

I had bought these cute kits from World Market… we even went to the local candy store to get a few extra things so the kids could make them more personal to them.  The plan was to get started right after Reese went to bed… she wouldn’t be helpful with this project.  So, I was reading the directions and realized that once I got the pieces all put together, they then needed to sit overnight before we could decorate them.  Ummm, no!  We will be taking them back and getting different ones somewhere else.

Plan B (That I had about 10 seconds to come up with before meltdowns started): Peanut Butter Balls

They were disappointed about the Gingerbread houses until they were given this idea.  By disappointed, I mean for 2 seconds while I finished my sentence.  Then they were excited and ready to get to work!!

It was pretty sticky…

Reese even helped stir a little. 🙂

Then It was time to get down to business!!  There is no way to stir in all of that powdered sugar… You have to use your hands!!

And here’s what they look like after they have been rolled and dipped.

I think that they should help with these every year… and eventually take it over.  They rolled balls for a little while, then it was time for bed.  Then Drew helped me for a little while. And with all of that help… I didn’t finish them until midnight!!  It is quite the project! 🙂  But, every year that I make them I remember sitting in my Meme’s kitchen sitting on the bar stool mixing them up for her, while she stood at the stove dipping the ones that were ready.  I love starting the same traditions with my children, and hopefully grandchildren down the road!!!