Christmas is…

 

The Christmas spirit has been shining brightly in our family.  Here is a glimpse of what we have been up to the past few weeks….via ways to define Christmas.

Christmas is…

First and foremost, receiving the most precious and sacred gift God could give, his son, Jesus Christ.

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Wishing family and friends both near and far a Merry Christmas.

May the spirit of Christmas be with you now and all year long. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from my family to yours

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Old and New Traditions

A newer tradition that was started a few years ago is all the cousins get together at my grandfather’s house and have pizza, pop, dessert, and decorate his house for Christmas. It is loads of fun and I love the fact that my children get to participate too.

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It is a tradition in our family since I can remember to go to the evening Mass at Rosary Cathedral  on the 24th (it is absolutely breathtaking…and it is where my husband and I wed), we then go back to my parents’ house for amazing appetizers and Lasagna from Spaghetti Warehouse, the night continues with Christmas carols, my dad reciting Twas the Night Before Christmas, a surprise visit from Santa Claus, and exchanging of gifts.

Giving selfless service to those less fortunate….

We brought in cookies to be decorated and sang carols with residents at Little Sisters of the Poor.  We had such a wonderful time.

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We also joined our playgroup and served lunch and helped kiddos decorate cookies at Beach House Family Shelter.  Cookies were clearly our theme this year. Lol!

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Joy with family….

I treasure those moments with family…whether we are crying or laughing, or laughing till we cry the time is so precious.

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Christmas caroling with friends and spreading Christmas cheer….

I had a gathering at my place for the moms in our playgroup. The only requirement was they had to relax…there was a massage therapist on hand. Everyone got massages; we played a game, had some wine, chatted, and even went Christmas caroling.

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A surprise gift of service…..

The morning after we decorated cookies and sang Christmas carols at Little Sisters’ of the Poor the children must have been pleasantly surprised at how elated the soul feels when serving others. They surprised my husband and me with breakfast in bed.  The big smiles on their faces and the way their eyes lit up with excitement to give us the breakfast they prepared was so endearing and adorable.

The act of giving

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I was so concerned about our eldest daughter losing the magic of believing in Santa Clause that I lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas. Ah, but she didn’t nor did her brother or sister. I had taken them shopping at the Dollar Tree (it is within their budget) for gifts for their grandparents and aunt and uncle. Then they wrapped their own gifts. And on Christmas Eve they were actually more excited about giving their gifts then receiving their one “special” gift from Santa Claus. My heart absolutely melted when they exerted as much, if not more, enthusiasm handing their grandparent their gifts that they bought and wrapped for them than they did to see Santa. The pure joy brought a tear to my eye.

Taking time to remember and pray for the souls who are no longer with us…..

This Christmas was particularly more difficult and emotional for some members of the family. After we opened Christmas gifts at my in-laws Christmas day we headed to the hospital to visit my husband’s grandfather. He had been in the hospital for the past two weeks. It had been an exhausting, confusing, and emotional two weeks for my husband’s uncle and mother. It was one of those situations where you wish you could do something, anything, to help ease their worries, their pain. That was the last time we saw grandpa. He passed away Christmas night. We will treasure the time we had and the memories we made, and pray that he has found peace.

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How was your Christmas Day? How do you define Christmas? Do you have any special family traditions?

Duck Dynasty Ruffling Feathers?

While listening to the radio this morning I found the predominate discussion to be Duck Dynasty. Apparently one of the members of the Duck Dynasty family is being suspended from the show after sharing his thoughts on modern immorality which lead to an uproar in the homosexual community.  (While listening to the banter on the radio I found myself behind a car with bumper stickers that read coexist and can’t we all just get along, in front of me, ironic right?!) The question is why are we making such a big deal out of this? Well, for one it sells…controversy sells. Shocker! And two, the comment was unfortunate, but that’s coming from me, a 30 something SAHM from the Midwest. In case you haven’t read or heard as of yet, this is the offensive comment….

“It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus,” Robertson told GQ. “That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

Let’s be honest, this comment is not tasteful and could be repugnant to any female or male. But it is important to remember who the audience is at this magazine, per their media kit the median demographics for GQ is the 29 year old single male (75%male/25%female readers). Perhaps he should have just addressed the notion that sodomy is a sin and left gender and genitalia out of his comment. I am assuming this was his way of trying to make a heterosexual vs. homosexual joke, Kathy Griffin he is not.  It should be noted that it was evident that his focus was on sin, not an attack on the homosexual community. He continued by stating….

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong. Sin becomes fine,” he later added. “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

It is very apparent that the Duck Dynasty family is Christian, thus have Christian beliefs, morals, and values. So why are we so surprised at his response on sin? He is simply stating that sin is a slippery slope, you allow one sin to become socially acceptable and slowly the rest follow. Perhaps he is now wishing he lead with, and focused more on, the legalization of Marijuana?

And now there is talk about removing him from the show. What? Seriously?! What is wrong with America? What happened to the days of being able to share opposing viewpoints?  Why must every little thing be political these days? I am growing irritated with the preverbal toddler tantrum adults are throwing! Is this the future?  The minute someone says something you don’t like you should attack them, destroy them, and then you will feel better? Has America officially become the ‘dysfunctional family’ of the world? Or did that ship already sail?

A place for Kittens to hang their Mittens

Here in NW Ohio we were blessed with 6 inches of snow and the kiddos could not have been more excited! Don’t you just love seeing their eyes light up when they see snow? There is something magical about those big flakes falling from the sky. It is as if you are inside a snow globe. 

So they put on all their winter gear with much anticipation of the fun to be had and headed out into the beautiful white fluffy snow.  They made snow angels,snow art, a fort, shoved the snow, one even took a dive into the snow (perhaps not the brightest idea but I understood her logic…if you can swim in water why not snow?) and then ten minutes later they came back inside (forgot to mention it was freezing!). Haha!

So they piled inside and shed all their winter gear…mittens, hats, scarves, boots, snow pants, coat, second pair of socks, first pair of sock (Isn’t it funny how it take 20 minutes to put it all on, they play for 10 minutes, and manage to take it all off in less than 3 minutes?!). Meanwhile I prepared some hot cocoa for them to warm up and then got them situated in the kitchen.  While they sipped I slipped. Tiled floor and melting snow is clearly not a good combination. But what’s a mom to do? Hang a clothes line across the living room?

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So I grabbed an old shutter we had lying around and wrapped it in yarn. Put it on top of a rug by the front door with some clothes pins and voila! Now we have a place for the kiddos to hang all their wet winter gear when they come in from playing in the snow. And an added bonus, they always know where their mittens are located.

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This has been working like a charm. It is perfect for homes that might not have a lot of space or lack a mud room. And this Kat could not be prouder of her kittens for not losing their mittens (sorry I had to, when your name is Kat and you have kids that wear mittens…you get the idea). Haha!

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So, have your little ones been out in the snow?  Where do your kittens keep their mittens? Don’t you just love fresh, white, fluffy snow…you know, before it turns into a muddy slushy mess?

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of Parenthood

 

The day started off perfect. We picked the kiddos up from my parents’ house after a fabulous overnight. We stopped at Meijer’s and got a few odds and ends. Most importantly, boots for our son since the forecast called for 6 inches of snow. We didn’t want him to be the only one not enjoying the snow. (BTW we totally lucked out, one of the 6 pairs that were left on the shelf was a size 3, score!)

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Once home the kiddos managed to find their mittens, hats, scarfs, and snow pants with ease. And not one had to pee after getting all bundled up. I am telling you it was like that perfect euphoric day that moms’ only dream of…like an urban mom legend. Haha! Then we all headed outside to enjoy the beautiful snow that graced our yard.  The hubs cleared the snow while the kiddos and I got to work making igloos, snow angels, and more!

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We tend to gauge our outdoor time by the youngest. When her hat, mittens, and scarf are caked with snow and her face is a blushing pinkish red it is time to go in. So we all headed indoors. My husband took our son to a birthday party while the girls and I made hot cocoa and decorated the gingerbread house.

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I so treasured that time together. The girls and I talked about dolls, candy, and the future (immediate future, mostly Christmas and Valentine’s Day) our conversation took me back to my childhood. As I sat their frosting the house and placing one gumdrop on the house, one in my mouth, and giggling I suddenly felt like a little girl again. All my worries about getting everyone’s Christmas gifts, bills, laundry, etc. went out the window and I was totally encapsulated by the moment. I experienced pure mommy bliss. And thank goodness I did because the Mr. Hyde of parenthood was lingering just around the corner.

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My husband picked up our son from the party while I got dinner ready.  We planned on a movie night so that means pizza woo-hoo!  So the kiddos got their little tables out and placed them in front of the television. Our son returned from the party. He had a great time! I inquired about the food situation at the party. To which he replied that he had a little to eat but he was hungry for dinner. So we sat down and started to eat and watch Family Man (love that movie but there are definitely a few parts you need to fast-forward if kiddos are watching). Then it happened! Like a flip of a switch my mommy bliss was turned off!

Our 3 year old stated she had to go potty so she ran upstairs. Our oldest daughter started to complain, weep, and whine about her day and how it wasn’t fair that her brother got to go somewhere but she didn’t. Our son stood up and expressed that he wasn’t feeling very well. He made it up two whopping steps before vomiting everywhere!  He then expressed that he had already eaten a lot at the party (um, ya think!?) Meanwhile our 3 year old who has been trying to master wiping after going #2 managed to use an entire roll of toilet paper which shockingly did not flush. Oh the sounds! The smell! The horror! AHH!

Parenthood…in the words of Forrest Gump…you never know what you’re gonna get.  Surprisingly those perfect blissful moments make all those nasty, toilet clogged, vomit clean up, while listening to a child whine moments totally worth it! True?

Christmas Craft: Elf

 

We made Christmas Elves last week with the intention of placing them on top of Mason jars filled with homemade hot cocoa mix for teacher’s gifts. But the kiddos fell in love with their little elves, gave each a name, and they are officially part of the family. Haha!

Here’s what you will need to make your elf:

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  • 2 felt sheets (two different colors…we chose a dark and light green but you can use any color you wish)
  • A few pom-poms and buttons (one for hat, two for shoes, and any additional embellishment for hat trim)
  • pinecone
  • 1 wooden doll head (with hole in the bottom)
  • 1 sharpie to make eyes/face
  • ribbon for a small scarf or you could use some of the leftover felt
  • crafts glue or hot glue gun

Directions:

Draw an isosceles triangle (roughly 5inches in height and base of 3 ½ inches)

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Cut out triangle

Place glue on one side of the triangle and rolled into a cone for the hat

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Cut small trim for hat, 3-1/2 inches x ½ inch…(or whatever width your little helper like…haha!)

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Glue trim to bottom of cone/hat

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Glue head on pinecone

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Glue Hat to head

Add embellishments to hat, pom-poms and/or buttons to top and side of hat.

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Cut long skinny legs for the elf, roughly 7 inches long

Place glue on the first inch and roll up the felt for the shoes

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Add pom-poms or buttons for shoes

Glue legs to bottom of pinecone

Add face with sharpie marker

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Add ribbon or felt for a scarf

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And done!

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These little guys make great tree ornaments, gift toppers, decoration, and friends. Haha!

Do you have a favorite crafts you make during the holidays? Maybe a special Christmas ornament? Feel free to share. Also please feel free to share any links you may have with fun crafts.

FYI…I came across some great ideas at the inspiration exchange.

Why Frozen is my new favorite Disney film!

This past weekend the kiddos and I had the privilege of seeing Disney’s Frozen. To be honest I hadn’t much expectation for the film other than to entertain the kiddos for a couple hours and to possibly contribute to dinner conversation later.

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I mean let’s face it it’s just another Disney “Princess” film and I am pretty sure we are all use to the drill by now. You know, something horrific happens to a parent or parents (often the mother, ever noticed that? What does Disney have against moms? Think about it, Jasmine, Little Mermaid, Snow White, Cinderella, BAMBI!). The princess gets herself into life threatening mischief, a prince saves her, and they live happily ever after.  And what do you know; within the first few minutes guess what? (Spoiler alert) The parents die. Shocker! Then a prince comes to save the day. Wow, didn’t see that coming! Haha! But wait….I was wrong!?

At one point during the film I actually found myself so enthralled that I was bribing my 3 year old to hold her bladder just for a minute longer so we could see what would happens next. Congratulations Disney, you did it! You finally broke the mold! Frozen is officially my new favorite Disney film.

 

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Frozen is chalked full of such valuable lessons on life. It was so refreshing to watch a Disney film that had a nice combination of fantasy and reality.

Reasons why Frozen is my new favorite Disney film:

  • The prince didn’t save the day, the princess did!
  • Princesses don’t wake up looking pretty.
  • We learned that when people express significant anger fear is often the underlying factor.
  • We learned that you can’t be selective with the emotions you stuff…if you try to stuff fear or sadness you are no longer being genuine and you miss out on love.
  • You can’t hide from your problems they will eventually catch up with you.
  • The longer you conceal your feelings the bigger the eruption when they do final surface.
  • Be cautious when ‘love at first sight’ strikes!
  • Ask for help.
  • Go after the ones you love.
  • She chose her love for her sister over her own life, her own happiness. A true selfless act of love…beautiful!
  • They did not live happily ever after…there was no princess bride at the end. I admire and appreciate that so much. I think it is so important that marriage isn’t rushed and who knows? Maybe after some soul searching they did get married or perhaps they found some issues they couldn’t resolve? I have a feeling that whole troll family thing might not sit well with her sister. Haha!

Frozen will be one Disney movie that we will definitely be adding to our home library. Thank you Disney for giving my girls a princess movie filled with fantasy and strong moral undertones. And a movie my son and daughters find entertaining (my son thought the snowman was hilarious…he kept laughing his infectious laugh, I loved it!)

Have you seen Frozen yet? If so what was your take? What is your take on the whole princess fairytale/fantasy? Is it good for little girls to have such unrealistic ideas in their heads? Please share. 

Acts of Kindness Challenge!

Have you ever been sitting in your car at a red light and suddenly you find yourself thinking about a certain friend, relative, or neighbor? Thinking about the relationship and how much it means to you. And how you should really give them a call, invite them over for dinner, or perhaps visit them at their retirement home? Then what happens? The light turns green and the thought is left behind.

Or perhaps maybe you have considered giving your time at a local food shelter or even making it a family affair but quickly excuse the idea. You are way too busy with work, household responsibilities, running kids around, etc. You’ll reconsider when the children’s schedules aren’t so hectic and work let’s up a little, maybe next year?

Maybe your spouse has been bugging you to go on a date.  But you keep putting it off until you have enough money budgeted for a fancy meal and night out on the town. You’ll go in a couple months once a few things are paid off.

What if there were no more tomorrows? Those friends, relatives, and neighbors would never know how much they meant to you. And the people’s lives you could have touched and whose lives could have touched yours through volunteering will never happen. Why do you keep putting off gratitude until tomorrow? Why do you keep putting off acts of kindness until you have more time, more money?

 

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I hadn’t really considered how often I put off small acts of kindness and gratitude until I received an email from a gentleman about his wife who is a cancer survivor. As I read the email and watched the video it touched my heart deeply.

Heather is an 8-year survivor of mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure. When she was diagnosed, she had just given birth to our little girl, Lily. Heather was told she only had 15 months left to live. I was quickly thrown into the role of caregiver and together we decided we would do whatever it took to beat the cancer. Nearly 8 years later, Heather is cancer free and doing what she loves most; raising Lily. Because she beat the odds and is one of few long-term survivors of mesothelioma, it is our mission to spread awareness of mesothelioma by sharing our personal story.

If her cancer has taught us anything, it’s the value of life and the value of gratitude. Her diagnosis was in the Holiday season, and every year around this time she gets what we call the “Holiday Blues” Therefore, she created “30 Days of Thankfulness” where she acknowledges something in her life that she is thankful for every day throughout the month. (Taken from email that was received)

I think sometimes we forget just how important small acts of kindness can be. We almost fool ourselves into thinking that sending that text, card, calling, paying for a perfect stranger’s coffee, etc. isn’t significant enough. Will it really affect them that much? Will it really have any impact on them? Why should I even bother?

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After watching and reading Heather’s story it really got me thinking about others who might be experiencing the holiday blues so I did a little research. Depression and suicides rates are at the highest during the holidays. So yes, it turns out that an act of kindness could have a significant impact on a person’s day, holiday season, even their life! Often time’s people keep their emotions and struggles bottled up. Who’s not to say that receiving that card via snail mail, an invitation to dinner, or having a perfect stranger pay for their coffee might be just what they needed to prevent themselves from taking catastrophic steps.

So the challenge is this…

Don’t put off small acts of kindness. We are not promised tomorrow. Start today. Start small. Stay small. Remember it isn’t the grandeur of the gesture but rather the love behind it. Starting this week put some action behind those kind thoughts. Do at least one small act of kindness each week. It can be well thought out like a special card or package in the mail for a friend or a random pay for a strangers coffee/food. There are only 52 weeks in a year. We should be able to come up with 52 acts of kindness. That’s right; this challenge is running ALL YEAR! Are you up for it? I think you are! I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the results and consequences that your acts of kindness will have on your own life.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Call a friend or family member you haven’t spoken with in a long time

Send an “I am thinking of you” card to family/friend

Send a car package to family/friend

Put together a kit for homeless (Ziploc with small toiletries)

Make a meal for homeless shelter

Offer to babysit for another family (and don’t expect anything in return)

Help someone for FREE (clean house, yard pick-up/maintenance, help with taxes, etc.)

Pay for the person’s order behind you in the drive-thru

Leave waitress a nice tip

Feed the meter for someone

Leave coins in vending machine

Offer to go shopping for elderly neighbor

Shovel neighbors drive

Mail money to a perfect stranger with a small encouraging note

So what do you say? Are you up for the challenge? Have a past experience or act of kindness to share? Have any ideas to add to the list?