Thursday, December 28, 2017

There are so do you guys do it? Let me explain.

New mittens that go half way up his arm...they are great for playing in the snow!
Christmas morning cinnamon rolls...since Jeff's childhood.
Cookies for Santa...apples and carrots for the reindeer.
Mom's tree.
Christmas morning with one extra this year. :)
We had snow! on Christmas Eve.
The reason Frankie is in most of my photos...hand up. all.the.time.
He gave me a new yoga we can do yoga together...he does a great downward dog.
{Heart Eyes!!!}
Pajamas from Papa and Nana.
The night before Christmas..and all through the house...
My newest little niece!!! Collette Marie. Such a little dolly.

I have lots of siblings and sister in laws and brother in laws and
my parents are up to 23 grand kids as of last week!
There are 40 of us at the moment...not including grandparents.

People are always asking us...."How do you do Christmas presents with so many?"
We do a grab bag!

This is how it works.

We choose names...within a category.
Women with the women.
Men with the men.
Little girls choose a little girl.
Little boys choose a little boy.
{We pick names early...once we even did it on Christmas Eve for the next year.
That way we have all year to shop and think about the person we are buying for!}

Doing it this way makes it fun for the kids to buy gifts.
My 6 year old nephew would much rather pick out a truck for a boy cousin
than buy a baby doll for a 2 year old girl cousin!

Same with the adults.
I know the guys would rather buy guy stuff instead of shopping at
Ulta choosing perfumes and make up brushes for a sister in law. Ha!

Once the kids are older and can pay for their own gift...they may participate in the adult grab bag.
It's their decision when they join. It usually happens in the late teen years.

We love doing it this way for a number of reasons.

1. You can focus on one person and really put a lot of thought into the gift you are buying.
2. We all save money.
3. Rather than buying bunch of little can buy a bigger, better quality gift.

My parents still buy each of the grand kids a new pair of pajamas for them to wear home.
The kids love it and look forward to changing out of their Christmas clothes into fresh pj's.

Doing Christmas this way works great for our family.
I love how the kids put thought into the person they have.
The kids get so excited to give their gifts because it's them doing the giving...
not just us parents buying and wrapping mass quantity so everyone has a gift.

It's more thought out and meaningful.

....and that's how we do it in our great, big family.

Hope you had a Merry Christmas!!!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The stockings were hung by the chimney...with a lot of aggravation and fighting and then the kids were sent to bed.

A true Christmas story.

Everyone was SO excited!
We pulled bins bursting with decor out of the attic..sifted through the treasures...strung the lights...
Christmas music was chocolate was being sipped...sugar cookies baking...
...we even made a cute little video while we hung the antique ornaments all over the tree.

Idyllic... I know, I know.

Next, I started working on the fireplace mantle.
This is where things began to shift.

Jeff took Frankie upstairs to lay him down for bed and ended up falling asleep as well.
I was a little annoyed...didn't he want to help me place candles on the hearth?
I mean...all men love to do that sort of  thing! least on Instagram they do.
...and Instagram is real. I know it is!

The last pan of sugar cookies burned to black crisps. It smelled lovely.
Then the dear children began to complain about the placement of their stockings...
For the past 15 years they were hung over the opening of the fireplace...
..this year I had a different idea...but my kids don't like that sort of change.
Not when it comes to tradition's sake anyway...

It escalated into me gently explaining yelling that it was
MY decision and MY house and MY fireplace and they could hang stockings in the actual FIRE
if that's what they wanted to do when they grew up and owned their own houses!
But this was MINE! and by golly I wanted it to look nice for the birthday of our Saviour!

Christmas is not about US, children, and where we want our stockings...
it's about making our house look like a magazine for Jesus!
..and I'm pretty positive Heaven decorates with dried oranges and cedar greens! ended with the grand finale of me sending everyone to bed.
I decided I was going to finish decorating alone...
where my heart could be filled with Joy and Peace and no one would complain...
and I could have things my way.  Joy.Peace.Jesus.

So there I was...all alone. 
With my candle sticks and whatever Christmas music I wanted to listen to.

It was nice...for about three minutes.

Then conviction and all the "Mom Guilt" began to settle in....

..Not because I didn't let them hang stockings in the same spot, no, no, no.
As a mom, it IS your decision to rearrange and change up your home if you wish to do so.
It's not like we weren't hanging stockings! ..I moved them three feet over!
and it IS my fireplace!  and I don't want it to look like Disney World!
and that is OKAY!

The bad feeling was from the way I handled it.
I could have spoken calmly and nicely instead of ranting and yelling.

A few minutes later a boy walked in and apologized. I apologized for getting so angry.
Another boy came in..we finished up a few things..then everyone went to bed

You see...
This is how real life goes.

We fail. We do wrong. We act wrong. We feel foolish.
We have to say sorry. We have to ask forgiveness.

Real life is messy sometimes. and we mess up sometimes.
..and that is okay! as long as we fix it.

You have probably heard..."There is no such thing as a perfect family".
Wrong! There is a such thing as a perfect family!

You have a perfect family! How about that?

Within your perfect little family there will sometimes be cranky children and
cranky moms and cranky dads and sisters and brothers who will squabble in the grocery store
and disobey at times and moms and dads will get into arguments and moms and dads will make up and there will be good and there will be bad and there will be days you won't ever forget
and days you would love to forget!

Don't compare.
Don't look around to see what everyone else is doing and then only pick out the good parts!
It's not all good! and that doesn't mean it's's just the way it is.
We live in a less than perfect world where sin pops up all over the place.
Thankfully we have God!

Love your family and find all the good you already have.
I know you have good! You know you have good!
Give yourself a break. Ease up on those expectations and embrace what you have.
Don't strive for what others are your own life doing the things that you are capable of.

Your children are truly, truly, truly a gift! Your husband/wife is a wonderful, wonderful gift!
..and you are a gift to your family!


Monday, December 18, 2017

This week... much too warm for our liking!
High of 47 degrees tomorrow? That's practically swimming weather, NOT Christmas weather.

...Jeff is away for work. {sniff,sniff..I hate sleeping without him}

...with him away, I feel motivated to accomplish things.
I am trying to finish as much as I can before he gets home at the end of the week.
That way the weekend won't be rushed and stressful.
{I'll let you know how that goes...she says while laughing so hard she's crying}

......we will be baking 17,521,375 cookies.
I will also probably eat most of those and then complain about being fat.

...we will be praying for snow!!! 100 inches! sister will hopefully be having her baby!!! She's due any second.
My phone is on next to my bed, ready for that middle of the night water breaking text!

....I tried my first fresh mandarin orange. Why did I wait so long?

...Tyler's girlfriend is coming up from Florida!
My girls are so excited to see her they can hardly contain themselves and
I have the happiest son you can imagine. {wink}

....I am trying to stay focused....focused on the reason for all the wonderful-ness this time of year.
All of this "Christmas" can be distracting..especially when the busy kicks in.
Christ. He is the reason. He humbly came for you and for me.

Happy Monday

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Just a little cute white tray, cookies, those city lights aaaand that's it.

We've been stringing dried oranges and playing Christmas music and baking cookies.
{...and eating too many cookies...but tis the season, right?!}

Little plug for one of my favorites!!!
I love my white tray from Grove Collaborative.
P.S. It was Free. They give presents all the time.

They are a natural company I have been with for the past two years and am SO happy with!
I love the fact that I never have to worry about purchasing cleaning products at the store.
Once a month, an order I create, is delivered right to my door...
..who doesn't love when the UPS man pulls up?!
Even if it's only dishsoap.'s the excitement of the box, right?!

They have all sorts of fun things...not just cleaning products.
You can check them out HERE. will also get $10 off your first order of $20 or more.
You'll love them. I do.
End little plug.

Moving on...
We're watching as many Christmas movies as we can squeeze in...tonight is Holiday Inn.
I'm so glad my kids love all the old black and white classics.
If they didn't...well they'd be forced by their mother to sit and watch anyway!!! {wink}

We took these cool cats to see Straight No Chaser at the opera house this past weekend.

While the group is amazingly talented and their music is really fun...
...I was disappointed by all the adult humor in their show.
Not appropriate for children!...or young men for that matter.
I definitely would have rather taken my daughter to the Nutcracker...which is on next year's agenda.

After the concert we walked over to State Street to see the windows and the Walnut Room at Macy's..
....which I still want to call Marshall Field's . {sigh}

Chicago is so beautiful at Christmas time.
The hustle and the bustle and the lights and the crowds and the street's the best!

I tell Jeff every year that I want to buy a house and live in the city for the month of December.
...and July...and maybe October too. Ha!

But here we our small town an hour away.
...and I love this too. Especially when it snows...which it did a little yesterday.
Now if only a big snowstorm would roll on through...that would be wonderful and Christmas-y!