Tag Archives: holidays

10 Thoughts Every Mom Has About Holiday Shopping

This post originally appeared on The Grit and Grace Project.

Holiday shopping. Every year, it’s left to the moms. Well, usually. I pass off a few things to my husband, but generally, I do the lion’s share of our Christmas shopping. I don’t much like shopping in huge crowds, so I’m not usually a Black Friday frequenter – but here’s to you, Cyber Monday! Each year, when I’m going through the list of our family members and close friends we like to get gifts for, I have a series of thoughts that go through my mind… I’ll let you in on my secret questions.

1. Why does anyone need this junk anyway? All those gift kits of men’s “boutique” toiletries, women’s “specialist” manicure supplies, or a box set of cheap, miniature Marvel characters for little boys… does anyone like them? What about those department store “free gifts” when you spend a certain amount? What’s even in those things?! Usually junk, right? It looks nice all wrapped up, but who actually needs it?

2. What’s the point of getting anything for my kids? They are blessed with four living grandparents, all of whom spoil them with gifts and clothes and special time together. My kids are too young to remember who bought them which gift, and so I’m a little jaded about getting them anything from just me and their dad. They’ll have plenty of presents to open even if I buy them nothing. And hey, everything comes in those cardboard boxes they love!

3. Now where did I stash that gift? I’ve got this issue of hiding things from the kids… and myself. I start taking advantage of sales on websites like Zulily in September or so (yes, I’m one of those), so I have to have the top shelf of several to keep the kids from finding them too early. I get bonus points because I have a son with a birthday three days after Christmas, so I’m hiding his birthday gifts as well.

4. Oh, but she’d love to have this, too! I’m so guilty of over-buying for some of our people. When I find more than one thing that’s just perfect for someone, I want to get them all! I love giving good gifts – maybe because it’s not something I’m particularly good at. I find the perfect thing (or five) and I want to get it!

5. Do my kids all have the same number of gifts? My kids aren’t old enough to be counting their presents quite yet, but I definitely look at the piles and see if there’s a significant difference. I know it’s the thought that counts, and that quality is better than quantity, but if my boys have huge piles of presents on Christmas morning, and my daughter only has a couple of things, you better believe she’s going to notice. AND say something.

6. I can’t remember whether I bought that person something… Since I’m often an early shopper, I sometimes forget when I’ve bought someone something. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve got several little spots I hide things, and I frequently spend about a week before Christmas re-finding them.

7. Is this outfit going to fit? I don’t know about you, but every time I’m in a store, looking at clothes to buy for Christmas, or birthdays, I immediately forget what size my child wears, or what they even look like. I hold up a pair of pants (you know, the kind I fold ten of each day) and I can’t tell if they’ll fit my two year old or my five year old. You call it lack of spacial reasoning, I call it holiday brain freeze.

8. Have I eaten today? During the holidays, I’m so overwhelmed with cleaning my house (because I’m usually a host of something or another), cooking something, baking something, grocery shopping or gift shopping, I totally neglect myself. I tend to forget to eat, shower, exercise, and do pretty much anything except my chores, and collapse on the couch with a glass of wine when things finally slow down. So while I’m out in Target, checking items off my list, I often wonder, “Have I even eaten anything besides those samples at Costco?”

9. What in the world am I going to buy for him? Typically, I’m asking this question about my husband. He’s the guy who just buys himself whatever it is he wants. I have to remind him a couple of months before Christmas to please, please just let me get it and wrap it. It won’t kill him to wait a couple of weeks for whatever it is, right?

10. I wonder who is shopping for me right now. It’s not totally selfish to wonder whether anyone remembered ol’ Mom this Christmas, right?

I love everything about Christmas, but these semi-stressful thoughts usually run through my mind every December. Please, tell me I’m not the only one!

A Christmas Itch

This post originally appeared on Everyday Exiles.

Every year at this time, I get the itch.

No, it’s not just my dry skin.

I get the itch to play that Christmas music, get out my decorations, and even to watch those cheesy movies. You know why? Because I truly do believe it’s the most wonderful time of the year. My home state has a chill in the air – but not too chilly, because, let’s be honest, enough is enough when it comes to cold weather. Lights are beginning to twinkle at some of the houses on my street. Stores are full of Christmassy colors, freshly baked treats, and boxes of glittery cards to send to loved ones. It really, really is the most wonderful, incredible time of the year.

But it isn’t the borderline-oppressive red and green decorations, the Christmas cookies, or even the sweet-smelling wreaths and garlands that make this the best time of year. No, it’s much more than that. It’s the general feeling of goodwill the circulates, because it’s even more apparent than usual that we’re part of a bigger story. The story that began all this stuff, this gift-giving and song-singing, is a story that has always been written. In fact, it started who knows how many millennia ago, before the beginning of time as we know it. And it’s still going on now; we’re not to its end. This narrative, the story of all of us, it’s not even remotely over.

You see, God knew this story was going to play out like this. He knew each of us, before we were knitted together in our mothers’ wombs, before our great-great-great-grandparents were even thought of. Before the flood, or even Adam and Eve. God is so far out of time as we know it that He probably feels like all that stuff was just this morning. He has known forever that we wouldn’t be perfect, or even good, without His help. He knew we’d screw up and need some serious intervention. But He didn’t stop loving us or start holding back His help. He provided the ultimate way for our saving, a way to let us be closer to Him. He had this majestic plan to send His Son before He even created us!

What does all of this mean? It means is that we have been given the greatest gift possible. We’ve been given the most perfect gift in the form of a helpless babe in arms. What kind of God sends His love to someone like that? As it turns out, an all-powerful, forever-gracious, fully righteous God sends His love like that. Love came down, under a bright star, in the dead of night, to an unwed mother and a frightened earthly father. Love came down to give hope, to live a perfect life, to be persecuted and crucified, to make straight a highway for our God to literally come alongside us. Jesus was the first Christmas gift, the most mind-blowing and expectation-shatttering gift ever.

Now, what does all of this mean for us? It means that we can call on God for anything and everything. It means that through Jesus, we are made holy and righteous, and God sees us that way. It means that, through Jesus, we have literally been given every spiritual blessing. Did you read that right? Every. Spiritual. Blessing. (Ephesians 1) That means we have the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5). We can pray directly to our Father and receive the ability to do works, just as Jesus did (John 14). We can ask Holy Spirit to intercede for us (Romans 8).

Currently: Christmas Time!

Y’ALL. I started this post in plenty of time to get it ready for posting last Wednesday, but then I FORGOT. SO! Here’s my Currently post for December, a little later than it should be. Oops.

December is here! Advent is here! And I am literally the happiest person. It’s my favorite time of year. Everything is extra beautiful, covered in greenery and frost, anticipation runs through our veins, and gift-giving abounds. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. So, since it’s the first Wednesday of the month, I’m linking up with Anne in Residence and Catherine of A Short Blonde for December’s Currently party.

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Lighting || both of our Christmas trees, and our front porch columns! If I had my way, I’d probably cover everything in lights because I love them so much. But Hubby thankfully anchors me down a little bit. Here are our trees and front porch!

Spending || a little less than usual on Christmas presents, I think. I’ve just slowed down a little on how much I’m doing. I know my kids will get plenty from their grandparents, too, and Hubby and I aren’t getting anything else for each other because we just splurged on a Vitamix and a couple of pieces of furniture. I don’t want Christmas to feel “small” for anyone, presents-wise, but I doubt that will be a problem!

Choosing || which of our family photos we’re turning into canvases for our own home, and which we’re giving to our parents! (Did I just ruin their surprise?) It’s the biggest decision to choose a favorite photo from our recent session with Urban Bloom Photography when they were ALL.SO.GOOD. Here’s a little preview…

Sending || Christmas cards! I just finished addressing them and put them in the mail yesterday! It’s one of my favorite things to do at Christmas, and I absolutely LOVE getting them in the mail! I ordered a few less than last year because I always have ten or so left over and now I’m afraid I’m going to have to order a few more! YIKES.

Singing || ALL of the Christmas music. I love Christmas music, specifically Christmas hymns and songs about Jesus (because I’m a worship leader, duh) and also just regular songs about snow and Santa and the whole deal. This year, EK is remembering lyrics and learning Christmas songs at school so it’s extra fun to sing with her!

Leave a comment and tell me what you’re up to Currently!

‘Tis the Season – of Indulging Your Taste Buds!

During the month of November, I’m participating in NaBloPoMo, where I try to write and publish each day.

I don’t know what it is about this time of year that makes me abandon any sort of diet or food regulations I might normally have going for me. Perhaps it begins with Halloween and the amount of candy that enters the house. Or it might have to do with being inside more often… which typically leads me to baking a lot. Or maybe it’s just that the holidays are full of sugary treats and fatty, sharable sides. Who knows. But what I DO know is that I LOVE food that tastes good.

Now, for me, saying “food that tastes good” covers a multitude of sins. I love fancy meals. I love farm-fresh eggs and meats. I love organic fruits and veggies. I love cuisine from all over the world (here’s looking specifically at you, Italy and Thailand). BUT! I also love a good slamburger (the term coined by my husband for a greasy burger from a no-name burger joint). I love a late-night hotdog from a street cart. Coldstone ice cream creations can cheer me up any day. My kids don’t have to beg to get me to eat at Chick-fil-A. To me, they taste good. And that’s what matters.

But this time of year, I lean in to those home-baked cookies, the cinnamon-sprinkled drinks, and the heavily-buttered breads or potatoes. I want large cuts of fatty meats (hey there, prime rib!) and richly-flavored, creamy soups (butternut squash soup, anyone?). And who can blame me?! It’s getting dark at 5:00pm and I’d like to have some compensation for the stealing of my daylight.

So today, I celebrate the pumpkin muffins with maple-pecan drizzle, the eggnog spiked with bourbon, and ramen from the Bahtmobile (our local Asian food truck). I celebrate shortbread cookies, King’s Hawaiian rolls (why are they so good?!) and 18-pound hunks of prime rib – if you’re having Thanksgiving lunch at our house, anyway. I celebrate good ol’ GBC (if you’re from around here, you should know that’s green bean casserole) and mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and Honeybaked Ham. It’s going to be a good couple of months, y’all, in the world of flavors. Indulge. ‘Tis the season!

Things Toddlers Say

Good morning and happy Tuesday! I hope everyone had a lovely Mother’s Day! We definitely had a great day – I was resting up after the race, and we visited Hubby’s mom, had dinner out with some friends, and topped it off with gelato. I call that a good day! Here are this week’s funny quotations from the kids. Enjoy!

One evening, we saw this beautiful sunset with the rays coming out…IMG_3866EK: It’s Jesus! His light is there!
J: I see his arm right there!

D comes to me, holding The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Me: It’s a book about the caterpillar!
D: Meoooowwww!
Me: Very close.

EK: Oh no! There’s a fire ant!
Me: Just flick it off the porch.
EK: But what if it STINGS me?! It’s the kind!

Talking about riding her plasma car in the yard, EK: That was. So. Darn. Fun!

EK, talking about my race: There might be bugs.
Me: Yeah, I hope they don’t bite me.
EK: You’ll be going so fast, they won’t even be able to.
Me: *glowing*

J, on Mothers Day cards: I don’t know how to make a card! It’s so hard for a baby or even a kid!

EK wanders upstairs at 11:30pm: Dad, I left my bunny outside. Can I go get it?
Hubby: I’ll make sure it gets back inside.
EK: But I’m worried that an owl will get it and feed it to its owl babies!
Hubby: But it’s a stuffed bunny. It’ll be okay.

J and D were having a tiff, and J finally hit D. EK walked away from the fight and said, “That’s on you, buddy.”

Hubby made homemade pizza…
J: This green stuff in the pizza that I don’t want to eat is mint. Can you say mint?
Me: Actually, I think it’s arugula. Can you say arugula?
J: Arugula! Great!

Me: I’m glad you guys didn’t watch any tv today. It’s good for you to do without tv sometimes.
J: Ha! Yeah, yeah, yeah…
Me: *fearing teenage years*

What have your kids said recently about each other? Do you have any funny sayings from Mother’s Day?

Currently: Christmas Edition and Photo Explosion!

Well, it’s time for a little Christmas update! We had so much fun hosting my family here for a few days, eating a TON of food (can you say 8lbs of prime rib?) and sweets, and giving and getting copious amounts of presents. Hubby and I spent most of Christmas Eve leading worship at three services at our church, thankful that our kids could enjoy the day with family, even if it was without us. Here is a little more about our Christmas, and what we are currently doing…

Smelling || my new candles from my brother and his girlfriend. They. Are. Magical. And no pun intended! 

Playing || dress up! In addition to a few new games and building-type toys, the big kids got several new dress up outfits, and they’ve been hamming it up big time. They both love playing dress up and pretending, so between my mom and me, we spoiled them with some new outfits. 

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Eating || this hunk of prime rib. It was so amazing I forgot to take a picture of it cooked before we ate it all! 

Enjoying || several days with family we don’t see as often. It might’ve felt chaotic with so many people and so much stuff, but I totally enjoyed it.

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Waiting || to take down our decorations and lights until New Years. I really enjoy the way my house looks when it’s this time of year, so I am rarely in a hurry to take them down.

Anticipating || seeing Moana later this week! I’m excited to go to the theatre again, and I’m hoping the kids all do as well this time as they did when we saw Finding Dory a few months ago. Snacks seems to be the best thing for maximizing their attention span.

Well, that’s pretty much it for what we’ve been up to. Here are a few more pictures that don’t really fit anywhere, but are super cute. I sure love my people.

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An Advent Calendar of Surprises

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus

Recently I was chatting with a friend who was flabbergasted that I’m basically done with my Christmas shopping. Really, that’s just because I love Amazon and I’m at Costco once a week. It makes it a little easier for me. But still- it made me feel really good about how well I was doing in preparation.

I finally have my decorations up now, including an Advent calendar that I made several years ago. I love the idea and doing a little something each day, and I’ve done something different inside it each year. Since my kids are all under age 5, they are just now getting into knowing what I’m reading to them, or looking forward to the activities that are in there. So this year, I filled the little pockets with Bible verses (mostly chronological, about the angel coming to Mary, Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem, etc.) and Christmas-themed family activities that I ripped off of several different folks’ ideas on their sites (watch a Christmas movie, sing a carol, etc.). Then I stuck a few jelly beans in five random pockets as a fun surprise. 

But I didn’t do all of this and prepare it until we should’ve been on day 3. We had already bypassed two whole days of December and it was the afternoon of the 3rd before I got started. So naturally, it’s a little scattered and low-budget looking. I didn’t print beautiful cards. I didn’t even write very clearly on half of them. I wasn’t super creative. You might say I was a slacker.

But giving my kids something to look forward to each day was important to me. I wanted them to look for a little surprise, and to wonder whether today was the day with candy. I wanted them to read a verse each day about Jesus’s coming, and have the reminder of what Christmas is about.

My kids don’t care that it could’ve been a little nicer or that I was two days late. They love surprises, and they love having a thing to look forward to. That’s all advent is, anyway: the looking forward to things to come. It’s the anticipation of Christ’s arrival, and the coming of a king. It’s a surprise, a glorious and wonderful surprise, the saving of souls and celebration of the saints.