Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts

On Decorating With Photos


(This new metal print is so cool!  Thanks to Artsy Couture for sending me a metal photo print to review.)

Do you ever wonder if it's narcissistic that we decorate our houses with pictures of ourselves?

A few years ago I heard someone mention how it could be narcissistic to decorate with photos of yourself, and for a long time I wondered if maybe that was true.  I can certainly see how decorating with photos could become narcissistic, like those movie characters who live alone and have a huge canvas of themselves adorning the wall above the couch.  But still, I don't buy that decorating with photos has to be a narcissistic thing.

I've put more thought into it, and even read about it in recent years, and I personally think there are a few good reasons to decorate with photos of your own family.  This is what I think:

1.  Decorating with photos adds to a feeling of solidarity between family members.

I think about decorating with photos differently now that I have kids of my own.  I think that for kids, seeing pictures of themselves with their family on the wall reminds them that they aren't alone - they are part of a bigger unit, a family, and that means something.  They play an integral role in a family, they are woven through the collective family memories that photos represent.  They can look at the walls and visually see their place in the family. In my opinion, that can't help but add some security, knowing your place in the world by being able to see it on the walls.

2.  Photos are memories.

I went to my parents house for the 4th of July, and my sister and I stood looking at an old vacation photo from when we went river rafting.  I mentioned something specific that I remembered about that day, and she mentioned something she remembered, and there we were bonding over a shared memory because of a photo on my parents' wall. I'm the type of person who doesn't really remember things until I see a photo - and then a whole cascade of memories floods in.  Not everyone is like this, certain personality types are much better at remembering and honoring the past in their hearts without any external reminders, but personally, I need the photos around me to remind me.

3. Photos can be modern "remembrance stones".

Remember how the Israelites crossed the Jordan River, and God told them to stack twelve stones from the river bed?  When their children asked about the stones, they could tell them of the Lord's faithfulness to Israel.  Well, to me, photos on my walls are something like a modern equivalent to that.  I want to work on this more in my home, by putting photos on the wall that are not only the perfect family photos, but photos that I can point to and say "Remember when God did that?"  He has been faithful to our family in many ways, and I want the photos on my wall to not just serve as an anchor for bonding and memories in my family, but also a way to point back to God's faithfulness.

Now, on to some practical things...

What is your favorite way to decorate with photos in your house?

Personally, I am constantly changing it up.

-I have small, square prints on a bulletin board above Derek's desk.  
-We have a wall collage of canvas prints.  Two of the pictures are of Derek and me from our 5th anniversary (they probably need updating since we just hit our 10th!), and there are smaller canvas prints of each of the kids' newborn pictures.
-I had pictures hanging along our stairwell, but I recently took those down because I want to re-do that wall.  I'll update when I figure it out.
-A metal print on my piano-top (which is basically my version of a mantel display, since I don't have a mantel).

The metal print is the newest addition to my photo decor - Artsy Couture recently asked if I'd like to check out one of their products and sent me this gorgeous metal print!  In case you haven't heard of metal prints, the photo is actually printed on a thin sheet of aluminum.  The colors are supposed to be brighter and sharper in printing with this method.



I ended up picking a beach photo from our vacation that I knew was not perfectly focused, but I was so impressed when the print came at how crisp it was anyway!  The colors really are gorgeous and vibrant, and it kind of has a certain glow about it that I am assuming is an effect of printing on aluminum.  I love the way it turned out, and it looks just as good as I thought it would on my piano-mantel.






Bonuses to printing on aluminum: it doesn't get retain dirt like textured canvas might, and there is no glass to break if it falls!

I poked around on the Artsy Couture website and they have a ton of options - not just for metal prints, but canvases, wood prints, traditional prints, cards, photo books, etc.  They also happen to be having a sale on large prints that ends tomorrow, so if you are interested, hop on over there and check it out!

What do you think?  Do you decorate with photos or not?  What are your reasons, if you have any?

When You Feel Unsettled



I'm sitting here typing this, and there is a tinge of smoke in the air.  Despite some beautiful flowers poking through the ground and dressing the trees, it has been such a dry spring.  It's hard to enjoy the summery weather when you know the sun is sucking more moisture out of the ground.  I'm praying for rain or a big, wet snow to prevent wildfires this summer.  We've already had one just this week.

It's not the most comforting feeling when we're leaving on vacation this month.

The last couple weeks have been just weird and unsettling.  I hurt my knee two Sundays ago.  Badly.  I was peddling the bike at the gym, and my knee started hurting when I got in the car.  The next morning I couldn't even straighten my leg without pain, much less put any weight on it.  

I had surgery on that same knee seven years ago, so this feeling was familiar.  I was convinced I tore my meniscus again somehow, and I was going to need surgery and be on crutches for six weeks.  I was a soggy mess the rest of the day, crying because I'd be on crutches for vacation, and I had so many end-of-year events that week, and I couldn't take care of the kids...crying just from the stress of it all.  I shared what happened with different friends as my mom drove me down to the doctor's office, who then ordered an MRI.  I was pretty convinced my May was ruined.

Then my knee felt surprisingly good the next day.  And even better the next, and the next, until the day of my MRI, I could almost step on it.  Results came in.  No tear.  I was walking without crutches the next day.  I just don't even see how that's possible with how my knee felt just a few days before.  Because it was bad.  It felt like something had torn, but this week I'd say it's pretty much healed.

I'm crediting all the prayers.  God definitely healed my knee way sooner than I expected, and it was a gift.  

So I'm hanging on to that thought, as I sit here and catch a whiff of smoke, wondering if there is another fire someplace.  Derek isn't home right now, and he has some hard work-related things to deal with that will affect our whole family.  Both of these things are stressing me out.  But then I remember my knee, and I say a prayer and take a deep breath.  Rotten things happen every day, and sometimes they work out, and sometimes they don't, but this week I remember that we have a God who cares about it all.  When we feel unsettled and anxious, we are supposed to come to Him.

"Cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."
1 Peter 5:7

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Philipians 4:6

I know those verses are so much used that they can almost seem cliche, but they will never seem cliche to me.  How amazing is that, that we have a God who cares for us?  And the proof of that is Jesus.  When we trust in Him for our salvation, our eternity is secure in Him.  If He died to save us from our sin, our biggest, most insurmountable problem, then He can handle all these little problems too.  And even if it doesn't work out like we want, we have Him, and that is all we truly need.

So I'll cast my cares on Him, and go work on some packing.

Happy Friday, Friends!

Don't Be Like Bob

(Four of my blessings.)


"Ah, you're Callie.  I've heard of you.  The one thing I know about you is that you have a lot of kids...so I guess I also know that you're insane."

Hardy, har, har.

Believe it or not, someone who was also a fellow Christian, by the way - we'll call him, Bob - actually said this to me once.  I gave out an incredulous "ha!" and then sat there in silence.  This is where I wish sometimes that I was a little quicker on my feet.  What I wanted to say was, "Oh, nice to meet you, Bob.  I guess the one thing I know about you is that you haven't read Psalm 139, where it says children are a reward from the Lord, and a blessing.  Buh-less-ing!"

But of course, I didn't say that, because that would be rude (hint, hint, Bob).

The reason I bring this up is because I saw a sketch on Facebook yesterday that made me laugh (you can see it here).  A stick figure family with six children and one on the way have their mouths hanging open, while another stick figure man says "You know what causes that, right?" Underneath it says "This is Bob.  Bob does not recognize blessings.  Don't be like Bob."

Apparently there are a lot of Bobs out there.  

Of course I thought it was funny because of my own experiences, so I shared it.  And then I sat there and remembered the story I shared above.  And then I had a startling realization.

Sometimes, I am also a Bob.  Because sometimes, I don't recognize blessings.  

Isn't that what discontentment is, after all?  We forget to recognize and thank God for the blessings we have.  We think what we have isn't good enough, or isn't enough, period.  We want more...more excitement, more recognition, more experiences, more things (even good things) - and when we focus so much on what we're missing, we forget about the things that we have.  The things God has so graciously given us.  

Maybe we don't actively ridicule those blessings like my Bob did, we're just overlooking them or minimizing them.  Those are two different things of course, but in practice, isn't it the same thing?  We're an ungrateful people, and whether with derision, or indifference and greediness, we snub God's good gifts as spoiled children would.  And when I say "we", I mean me.  So when I say this next part, it's a challenge to me more than it's a challenge to you.

Don't be like Bob.


Creative Contentment | A 100 Days Project


One of my unspoken goals for the year has been to get better at budgeting.

Recently I was reminded of why I need this so much when a friend mentioned a deal she found on some new clothing items.  Did I need new clothing?  No, but it didn't stop me from browsing the internet in search of a similar deal.  I have three new garments to show for it, and though I stayed within my budget to buy them, and they were good buys that will fit into my wardrobe nicely, it still makes me a little unnerved each time I look at them.  Because I know they were bought from an ugly place.  A place of discontent.

2018 so far has brought to light my personal discontent in ways I didn't expect.  The budgeting and finance issues are just one aspect - at various times over the last few years I have felt discontent with my schedule, discontent with our food, discontent with our house.  I have felt discontent with how ordinary my days are, how little I accomplish in a day, the quality of the books I'm crossing off my to-be-read list, the number on the scale.  I've felt discontent with my homeschool community (or rather lack thereof), and discontent with my walk with the Lord (because I wish I had more time and was better at making it a priority!).  

Basically, I'm tired of being discontent.

I recently saw that the #100daysproject is starting up on Instagram, and I mulled over the idea of joining in.  I did 31 Days Of Writing last October and loved being able to focus my posts around a certain theme on this blog, and I liked the idea of doing it again.  

As I was sitting there, running through different topics or activities that wouldn't be too burdensome in my current stage of life (and also wondering if it's cheating somehow to write about the project on my blog instead of Instagram), I remembered my blog friend Cassidy doing a 31 Days project on contentment a few years back.  Many blog friends have participated in these challenges over the years, but for some reason Cassidy's series stuck with me.  Perhaps because contentment is something I struggle with off and on too.  

Then it came to me: creative contentment.  If I was going to do a 100 Days Project, that's what I'd like it to be on.  Thinking outside the box when it comes to practicing contentment - figuring out strategies to help myself rest in contentment, and improving my circumstances and attitude where I am right now, with what I have right now.

I think I'm just going to go for it.  Will I write every day about this on the blog?  No, but I am hoping to seriously think about and practice contentment in different areas of my life every day for the next 100 days, and write something related to this topic at least once a week right here (and maybe occasionally on Instagram too).  That counts right?  That's my plan.

So consider this the first installment, and expect more on Thursdays or Fridays for the next few months!




Hello, January




Watch out World, I finally discovered I can narrate blog posts into my phone whilst doing something else! This is how it works. I'm currently narrating into my Notes app while driving to the gym (don't worry, it's hands-free with the little microphone on my earbuds). When I get to the gym I have a big mess of a paragraph with no punctuation, but the bones are there, and I edit while I ride the stationary bike. Multi-tasking at its finest! No, I don't get as good of a workout in while tapping on my phone, but what can I say, blogging is worth it to me.

I've been meaning to write another old-fashioned blog post like this for a couple months, but it just doesn't seem to get done between figuring out how to take care of all five kids while homeschooling, so this is my solution for now. 


Back To School

Speaking of homeschooling, as of the second week of January we started school again for the first time since Georgie was born. Five days a week until the end of May will get all of our required days in before summer. That seems pretty good to me considering I took two months off for "maternity leave". I find myself putting a lot more effort and creativity into homeschooling the last couple weeks, more than I did last fall. I think I underestimated the amount of energy that being pregnant took out of me at the start of the year. Even though I have a newborn now, I feel like I'm able to put so much more into our days without getting worn out.

I shared my homeschool bullet journal on Instagram last week (don't worry if you missed it, I will have a blog post about my homeschool bullet journal in the months to come once I refine my process a bit more). So far this method is working like a charm! I really love keeping track of what we're doing this way, and I'm finding it really motivating to write down everything with my highlighting method to make sure we're getting a good variety of subjects in each week. Some homeschool moms really seem to thrive on a weekly schedule for different subjects, but I am doing better with just having weekly goals for our subjects and squeezing them in wherever it happens to work for that week. We've accomplished so much more with this flexible method than we did when I was trying to schedule our whole week out.

Family Outings And My Toy Strategy
Let's see, what else? We've had some fun weekends so far this January. We took a weekend road trip into the mountains and did a short hike with the kids. It was freezing cold, but I tucked Georgie into my Solly wrap, and she was asleep within two minutes, despite my frozen fingers.  It was nice to get outside. It's so beautiful in the mountains, even in the winter. 










We also took a trip to the stock show on MLK Jr. Day. The stock show is a family tradition going back to when I was a kid myself. It's fun to take the kids now and show them all the animals and wander through all the vendors together (and sometimes go to a rodeo, though not this year). We ended up getting the kids some really sturdy metal toys so they can set up their own little ranch. The set was expensive, but it came with a tractor and three trailers, and fence pieces that fit together, and a cow. The kids have been playing with it nonstop since we got it. We feel a little sheepish for spending so much on it right after Christmas, but this is a toy set that will last through all our kids, and probably even until we have grandkids. It's also an easy set to add to, which is something I'm working toward with the kids' toy collections. I don't know about you, but I really don't like getting random little toys for the kids that will break two months down the road.  I'm trying to narrow all the kids' toys down to a few categories that can be added to - like this ranch set, Legos, pieces to the boys' train set, Calico Critters, and eventually Barbies (yes, I'm getting my girls Barbies - I'm not one of those anti-Barbie people).

A New Bible Study
In more recent news, we did try a Community Bible Study in our area this week. When I was a child we went to our local CBS for years.  In case you might have forgotten, I was homeschooled from fourth grade through high school. CBS was one of the ways we got in our social interaction and Bible curriculum (all at once!). I have so many fond memories of those Bible study days, and I am still in touch with some of the friends I met then.

So I have known for a while that I wanted to get involved again when my kids reached grade school. I decided now was the time. On Wednesday we tried it out, and the kids LOVED it.  It was so cute to hear them talking in the backseat on the drive home, all about the Bible lesson, and what they played in the gym, and the snacks they had. I was also surprised when I went into the sanctuary for the concluding lecture to see Clyde, onstage, dressed in a furry robe. He was acting out John the Baptist for all the moms!  He was waving at me and blowing kisses. That's Clyde for you, my little extrovert! I am looking forward to next week.


This is where I would normally start talking books (because when do I NOT feel like blabbing about what I'm reading?), but I have an entire post waiting in my drafts about my reading plans for the year. I am hoping to have a little blogging time in the morning on Saturday (Derek is so sweet and lets me escape to the coffee shop every now and then).  I have several posts in the works, which makes me want to ask a weird question: which post should I try to get up next week?  My blogging time these days is limited. I'll let you all choose, if you have an opinion...you can help me prioritize!







What I'm Drinking: Coffee with Southern Butter Pecan creamer (because I forgot I was supposed to bring it to our mom's group yesterday - whoops).

What are you drinking on this fine Friday morning?  How is your January going so far?

What A Year! - Our 2017



The house is mostly asleep, and Derek is getting ready for bed.  We watched the ball drop on TV, and I am alone in the living room, typing out this post in an effort to get it up before midnight.  Because this is one of the favorite posts of the year to me - where I look back on the year, month by month, and record everything that happened (I've been doing it for years - here's 2016's).  I love looking at the previous year in one whole chunk like this - it makes me realize again the Lord's faithfulness to us throughout the year.  But more on that at the end.  Let's start with January!


January

-Rang in the New Year with a nasty cold!  I gave up on the one word thing.

-Had to report to court because I got in a car accident in December. The other car was hardly damaged, my car was totaled. Let's just not talk about it.


-The kids and I discovered this cute little creek close to our house!  Fun day exploring outside.

-Did a unit about the presidents in honor of the inauguration, which we all watched together!

-Visit to the stock show.

-Got a haircut with my friend Katy Jo, and she did a fantastic job!  I always go to her now.  Also started buying candy hearts.

-Derek and I went bowling, which we hadn't done in a very long time.  Actually we had TWO date nights in a row!





February

-Wyatt turned six years old!  We did a PJ Masks party theme.


-My lovely sister was on the blog!

-I attempted the Big Backyard Bird Count, and quickly gave up when I was kinda sorta called out for misidentifying a bird.  In the birder's defense, I accidentally misidentified a bird as a really rare bird for my area, so they were just trying to gather more information, but the grilling might have scared me off.

-I got a bunch of Usborne books to use for homeschooling.


-I took a bunch of Valentine's photos of the kids! I love Valentine's Day.  I shared a bunch of old movie ideas for Valentine's.  I shared how my parents always made Valentine's Day special for me.  The kids sent Valentine cards.  I shared a bunch of Valentine gift ideas.

-Wyatt lost his first toot! The tooth fairy visited.



March

-On March 5th I found out I was pregnant! We took pictures and announced a week and a half later! Read the Baby #5 story here!

-I visited an antique mall with my mom and sister (the day before I took a test and found out I was pregnant!).

-I thought I should share a day in the life post with four before we announced we were having FIVE, so you can read that here.

-I secretly watched a lot of TV in the week and a half before we announced, to distract myself from my excitement and early pregnancy symptoms.

-Gwen surprised me with a paper bracelet one morning and it pretty much made my day!


-We made a difficult decision to search for a new church.



April


-We took a trip out to visit our rancher friends and had such a beautiful time visiting them!  My dear friend Holly also gave me a turntable, which I have wanted for a very long time!  Finding records to play on it has been one of my favorite things this year!

-Had an ultrasound on April 12th and saw our sweet baby moving on the screen!  I turned 8 weeks pregnant and felt like I was already starting to show!  I turned 10 weeks pregnant and bought some maternity pants (already).

-Celebrated Easter and did a bunch of Good Friday/Palm Sunday things with the kids!

-Got a new couch cover, which was very exciting.

-Lots of trips to the museum and zoo.

-The exhaustion really hit this month. I was so tired in the first trimester this time.

-I wrote about helping Clarice adjust to the new baby, and I'm happy to report now that she has done amazing with Georgie!



May


-I finally shared all my audiobook secrets on the blog!

-We went on vacation to Arizona! I brought a bunch of books. Saw Mesa Verde, the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Lake Powell, and Meteor Crater.

-We visited my grandpas' graves in advance of Memorial Day. It was neat to let me kids see all the headstones and talk about how men have died for our freedom.

-Celebrated my first Mother's Day as a mom of five on the road to Arizona!



June

-Derek finished our porch extension! It turned out beautifully.  We also got new appliances!

- I shared a little bit about our previous year of homeschooling kindergarten with preschoolers and toddlers underfoot.

-We visited the church we would end up choosing as our new church home, even though we didn't make a final decision then!  We also enjoyed a lovely park day that same day.

-Celebrated my birthday! Entered the last year of my 20's.



-Went to the homeschool conference and finalized my curriculum picks for first grade.



July

-We found out the gender of Baby #5 and had a gender reveal party!



-Derek and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary.

-Chopped my hair off and got new summer makeup.

-Decided to do a maternity capsule wardrobe for the remaining months of my pregnancy.

-Went to a family reunion on Derek's dad's side!

-After visiting at least ten churches over the last several months, we finally decided on our new church home!



August

-I sent in a letter to apply for an inactive status on my dental hygiene license.

-I felt like I started nesting at the end of July and beginning of August.  I organized a lot, and drank a lot of coffee, and watched a lot of TV.


-I flew out to New Orleans to meet Derek, since he was there at a work conference! It was a wonderful trip!  We counted this as our "babymoon" since we never got to have one with any of the other kids.

-Wyatt started first grade at home!


-I started our baby's quilt.

-Went to visit the city's botanic gardens.



September

-I talked a barista out of a pumpkin spice latte on September 1st.


-Finished the baby's quilt in record time! Finished putting the nursery together.

-Went on a gorgeous fall hike.

-Went Christmas shopping!

-Got our maternity pictures taken by my dear friend. It was pretty much my dream maternity photo session.

-I discovered the joys of making play dough and wearing leggings.

-I made a fall wreath with felt flowers for our front door.

-In case you couldn't tell by now, this was definitely a nesting month.  I finished a ton of pre-baby to-do's and thought of a few more.




October

-I decided to do a blog-every-day challenge in October on memory-keeping.  Wrote a lot of thoughtful posts as part of it, and it was fun to just blog without over-thinking it.


- I tried to take the kids on separate "mom days" before the baby came!

-We went to our dental office's fall festival and the kids got their first taste of mini golf. Clarice especially took it very seriously.

-Derek took Gwen on a princess movie date and she loved every second of it!

-Derek took Wyatt to his first CU game.

-I started an Etsy shop (oops, did I forget to mention that? I did.).


-I told many, many people that I was sure we were definitely going to our due date.

-Georgiana Bea was born on October 30th, two weeks early!



November

-We headed home from the hospital on November 1st!

-I suffered through a lot of back/shoulder pain for the first couple weeks postpartum, which was weird, but Georgie was a dream baby and started sleeping through the night at a couple weeks old.

-Spent most of the month hanging around the house and settling in with our sweet girl! But Derek and I did go out to a movie on November 10th and everyone who saw us was quite impressed. Georgie was declared the "cutest baby ever" by the concessions clerk.

-Celebrated Thanksgiving with Derek's family!


-I attempted to go postpartum jeans shopping.

-Georgie turned one month old.



December

-More hanging around the house and settling in. 

-Lots of Christmas gatherings. 

-Sugar cookie decorating (twice, because the first batch got ruined with sour frosting flavoring). 

-Made a gingerbread house with the kids on Christmas Eve Eve.

-GEORGIE SMILED!



-Rang in the New Year with a two month old!


So here we are, on the last day of the day of the year. Today is that day in the middle, when we all are looking back and forward at the same time. We look forward to everything we think will happen in the year ahead, but the year before is still fresh, reminding us that we can never really know. Every year holds some surprises. I didn't suspect on last December 31st that I'd be holding the best kind of surprise before the 2017 year was out!  What an unexpected blessing this whole year has been.

So today I'm looking back with gratitude on the beauty of God's plan for our family as it has played out over the last 12 months...and I'm looking ahead with anticipation for what the next 12 months might hold. Maybe there will be unexpected joys, maybe unexpected sorrows, but I'm so thankful that God is in His heaven, with His gracious hand over it all.

Happy New Year, friends!  May His faithfulness be more apparent to you than ever in 2018 - or if you've never put your trust in Jesus to save you, I pray that this is the year you will.


The Christmas My Camera Missed



I didn't get a good picture of me and Georgie yesterday.

I was upset about it last night.  I couldn't believe I failed to get a non-fussy, non-blurry picture with my baby daughter on her first Christmas morning!  I rely on my pictures to be my memory-keepers, because I feel like I don't remember things if I don't have pictures of them.  Some tears might have been shed (and I partially blame exhaustion and postpartum hormones).

Once I settled into it a bit though, I realized that maybe I don't remember things as well without a picture, but maybe that's partly because I take so many pictures.  I let the camera do the work for me instead of taking a second to memorize the moment.  And maybe I need to hold the pictures a little more loosely and hold the mental snapshots a little more tightly.  Because there are some things a picture doesn't capture.

Like the grin that jumps to my face when my kids can hardly sit still for excitement, and my newborn's head bobbing around trying to see everything with her wide eyes.

Like the excitement on the kids' faces when they bring the presents they picked especially for me.

Like settling in on the couch to feed Georgie and watching the kids (and Derek) construct train tracks, and build race cars out of legos, and arrange furniture in a dollhouse.

Like playing Scrabble with my husband, and drinking wassail while listening to our new vinyl record of old songs on the turntable.

Like having my baby fall asleep on my lap while the last of the wrapping paper flies.

Like the translucent (but long) eyelashes that brush her tiny little cheeks.  Like the feel of her breath, rising and falling, while snow falls and joyful noises sound in the background.

Like all the kids tucked away in bed, listening to the account of the birth of our Savior one more time before we turn out the lights.




















Overall, it was a lovely Christmas, and I'll store up all the images I missed with my camera in my heart.

Did you all have a good Christmas?

All The Christmas Favorites - A Survey



This has been such a fun Christmas season!  I didn't expect that this year.  I thought we'd be a lot more stressed with balancing Christmas preparations and a newborn, but it's been the opposite - I've kept my expectations low, and it's ended up being the least stressful Christmas I've had in a while.

Unfortunately that also means there are things that didn't happen quite in the ideal timeframe...like this Christmas survey I saw several weeks ago. I am just now sitting down to fill it out, and it's certainly made the rounds in blogland already!  But here we go anyway, just for fun.

1. Real tree or fake tree?  We always go with fake.  I have one vague memory of getting a real tree as a child, with impressions of wet feet, crying siblings, and a tree turning brown in our backyard until springtime.  I've never felt that it was worth the effort as an adult, so we just do fake trees.  I will say that I wish fake trees smelled like real ones though.  Someone told me once to get a real wreath to enjoy that evergreen smell, and I thought it was a brilliant idea, but it's one of those things forever on my Christmas to-do list and never crossed off.

2. Favorite Christmas cookie?  I have a particular fondness for soft ginger cookies (I love to enjoy them with a cup of tea), but my favorite is probably snowdrop cookies!  Easy, delicious, and gluten-free even (for my gluten-free friends, because personally I love my gluten).

3. Home on Christmas morning or travel? In the last couple years we have started staying home on Christmas Day, and it's the best.

4. Clear or colored lights?  I no longer have to decide between the two, because last year we sprung for the expensive strands of LED lights that can change to any color we want!  I will say, I am not a huge fan of the white light setting though, because they are almost fluorescent, so our downstairs tree still has regular clear lights.

5. Send Christmas cards? Yes, yes, yes!  

6. Favorite Christmas present received? Hmm.  I hate this question.  It's kind of depressing that I don't remember most of my Christmas gifts over the years.  My most memorable and favorite is probably when Derek had a star named after me, the year I was pregnant with Wyatt.  I might have cried.

7. Favorite Christmas present given? I hate this question too.

8. Stockings or no stockings? Yes, but in recent years we haven't put much effort into stocking stuffers.  Stocking stuffers can really eat into the Christmas budget!  And we are on a tight budget (five kids, you know).

9. Christmas PJs? I have tried to buy the kids Christmas pajamas in years past, but this year I let that one go.  It was a good decision.  I just can't do everything.  Thankfully our sweet brother and sister-in-law send pajamas to the kids as part of our advent, and the kids are so excited about their nutcracker pajamas this year!



10. Favorite Christmas carol? I always liked "Hark The Herald Angels Sing", but "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day" is another one I like.

11. Favorite holiday tradition?  Derek and me sitting with our sparkling cider on Christmas Eve after all the presents are put out for the kids.  Think that final scene in "A Christmas Story".  It's Christmas-y and romantic, and gives us a much-needed moment of quite before the Christmas morning flurry.
 
12. Early shopper or last minute? This year we were early shoppers, and it was wonderful!  I think I'm going to shop early from now on.

13. Favorite Christmas movie or t.v. show? I love "The Nativity Story" movie (we make sure to watch it every year), and my second favorite is probably "A Christmas Story".  I also can't help but like "Christmas With The Kranks".

14. Favorite holiday beverage? Eggnog or wassel!

15. Cookies and milk for Santa? When I was a kid we always picked our best-decorated sugar cookie (usually the one that was most drowned in frosting) and left it out for "Santa", who we really knew was my dad.  My poor dad.  He had to eat three over-frosted sugar cookies every Christmas Eve!  Probably quite the sugar rush.  I haven't really had the kids put out cookies for Santa yet, because they are not all old enough to remember that "Santa" is really Derek, and I don't want to make it confusing before we are all on the same we-just-like-to-pretend-for-fun page.


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