We had a very merry (and slow) Christmas!

I have never been a huge fan of holidays, but ever since having kids, I’ve fallen back in love with Christmas.

When we moved to Seattle 3+ years ago, we had to completely change our Christmas traditions. Actually, Tim and I never really had our own Christmas traditions, because in Chicago we generally spent Christmas Day driving to 2-3 different houses to celebrate with immediate and extended family. I always found the day to be fun, but overly exhausting.

A Merry Little Christmas Day

Now that we’re in Seattle without family nearby, we celebrate Christmas by heading to the mountains, and I love it! For the past three years we’ve woken up, eaten a quick breakfast, and driven about an hour to the mountains to play in the snow. I’m happy to say that this tradition has gotten more fun each year! (Which is a really good thing because the first year it was a disaster and last year wasn’t much better!)

A Merry Little Christmas Day

On Christmas this year we arrived home from sledding in the middle of the afternoon and the girls drank hot chocolate, ate snacks, helped me to make cinnamon rolls, and we opened presents while our lasagna dinner was baking in the oven. We concluded the day by watching a few old Christmas movies and snuggling on the couch. It was fantastic!

Because I am most definitely not a fun parent, only put a very few presents out for the girls to open on Christmas Day. This year they opened gifts from me and Tim (we bought them each a pair of slippers and a book), and a gift from their uncle (who is in town visiting), and gifts they each picked out for each other (with a lot of parental help). They have yet to open gifts from other friends and family members… but we’ll get to it soon! I like to drag out the gifts as long as possible because I really enjoy seeing them play with the presents for a long time, instead of skipping right to the next one. Currently, they are happy with their new toys, so I’ll hold off on giving them more gifts until we have some down time. I am quite sure this whole thing drives the grandparents crazy because we may be the only people ever who don’t allow their kids to open all of their gifts on Christmas morning but… (shrug).

A Merry Little Christmas Day

I like to keep Christmas low-key. I like not overwhelming my kids (and us) with too many things in a short period of time. I like having a slow morning and spending time outdoors and creating memories like Tim and I had in the Midwest on white Christmas mornings. I also like focusing the day on the birth of Jesus and spending time together. Not that I do any of that perfectly – but I try!

A Merry Little Christmas Day

We did a few Christmas activities before the holiday, and there are still some things on my bucket list that may or may not happen this year. What’s most important to me is that we pick out a Christmas tree (check!), we send out Christmas cards (check!), we see Christmas lights (check!), we bake cinnamon rolls for Tim’s birthday – which is on Christmas Eve (check! Although a few days late), we go snowshoeing or ice skating or sledding or some other outdoor activity (check!), we watch some traditional Christmas movies (check!), we go to at least one holiday market (check!) and that we go to church (check!). Everything else we manage to do is a bonus.

A Merry Little Christmas Day

So… mission accomplished. Christmas happened, and although I will admit that we had some stressful moments leading up to it (because I procrastinated on quite a few things, such as sending cards and gifts!), it was overall a really nice time. And I think the girls loved it. Now, of course, we’re taking the rest of the week to recover from all of it. We’ve done a few activities, but we’ve also spent a lot of time hunkered down together, relaxing. I love this time of year. Sometimes I’m tempted to plan a trip during the few weeks Tim takes off work, but in the moment I realize how nice it is for all of us to just be at home together.

Now I’m off for a date with my 2019 Powersheets so I can plan the upcoming year!

I hope your 2018 is ending on a high note!

Posted in holidays, intentional parenting, loved ones | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Gift Ideas for 2-5 Year Olds

I made a wish list for the girls’ Christmas present ideas this year. Actually, I think I’m going to keep it after the holidays and continue adding to it for the new baby and also for the girls’ birthdays, and just keep it going. Heck, I even have an item or two for me and Tim on there! We don’t buy the girls many toys and I feel like whenever a celebratory event comes around I always forget the ideas I had months before.

I’m using babylist for the registry because I can add things from sites other than Amazon. (Previously, I had used an Amazon wishlist to keep track of items the girls might want/need.)

Gift Ideas for Preschoolers

Here’s what made it on the girls’ Christmas lists this year… (Gift Ideas for Preschoolers):

Legos. The girls don’t have any ‘real’ Legos, and I think it’s time we invested in them! Isabelle, especially, loves to build with anything and everything and I think she’ll be super interested in these. Am I going to get super annoyed when I need to pick up hundreds of these pieces every single day? Undoubtedly.

Wooden Bead Set. Clara absolutely loves playing with beads and creating necklaces. She isn’t a very fine motor skills type of girl, but she will sit and work on beading, so I’m hoping this is an activity she enjoys for more than the 2 seconds that she stays interested in other activities!

Balance Ball. My girls are inexplicably obsessed with these things every time we see one out and about, and even though Clara is going to be too big for it in a few months, the new baby coming along will get lots of use out of it! Hopefully!

Kinetic Sand. I see this recommended on a lot of lists for toddler sensory toys, so I’m going to try it! Clara is a kid who needs a lot of sensory input, so I think she might enjoy this.

Stepping Stones. The girls are always, always turning everything in our house into an ‘obstacle course’ and I think they might like the balancing component of using these to play with. Plus, it may just keep them from jumping off the couches… one can hope, right?!

Play Scarves. Every single toddler activity we go to involves these. Toddler gyms, toddler gymnastics, toddler storytime, toddler ballet… everything. So I figure they must be onto something and maybe the girls will play with them at home, too! They can be capes, baby blankets, tea party table cloths… there are a lot of imaginative uses.

Rocker Board. Can I say ‘no’ to a Waldorf-inspired toy that works on balance? No I cannot. My girls are 100% physical little creatures so anything that gets them moving safely and creates a bit of a challenge, I’m a fan of!

Magna-Tiles. I think every kid over 18 months old should have a set of these and I just cannot believe that we don’t own a set yet. The price has always kept me away, but I know my kids will absolutely love them. Our library has a set and the girls always play with it for a long time.

Wooden Toy Train Set. Another toy that I can’t believe we don’t own! So many of our friends have toy train sets and the girls absolutely love playing with them, so it’s time we get one of our own. I’m hoping at this point the girls will be able to put the tracks together themselves… maybe? One can hope.

Building Blocks. We don’t have a large block set yet, so this one is just calling my name. Aren’t the colors so pretty?! As I mentioned before, Isabelle loves building all of the things, so I think this is going to be her jam.

Daniel Tiger Figures. They are obsessed with Daniel Tiger and actually play really well with little figures. We have a ton of baby dolls in our house (all of which are very, very taken care of each day), but we don’t have any small figures that the girls can move around. I think they’ll enjoy playing with these.

Of course what’s actually going to happen is that the girls are going to fight over any and all of these gifts because they’ll inevitably be sharing them all. Sooooo there’s that to look forward to! But I think these toys will be able to be used for a long period of time, plus they don’t make noise – which is a win for everyone!

Historically Tim and I haven’t gotten the girls gifts on Christmas (except for festive jammies), but this year we bought them each a book and may buy a big item from this list for them to share. I also plan on taking each of them to a toy store (separately) to pick out a gift for each other. I did this with Clara last year and although it was a little bit of a frustrating process, it was also really nice and Clara was so excited about giving her sister her ‘cow cape’. (It may have been a Dalmation costume… but who knows/cares.)

I hope sharing this list helps you with any last-minute inspiration you need for some young people in your life!

Happy Holiday (Shopping)!

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First Trimester Thoughts

I don’t think I ever told this blog that we’re expecting a baby, did I? (Third child problems, I guess.) Anyways, I’m sure you saw it on social media a few weeks ago, but we’re expecting a baby – yay! (But also – WHOA.)

Pregnancy Announcement for Baby #3

Shirts from The Bee and the Fox!

Since I knew I wasn’t going to be blogging about my pregnancy until the first trimester was over, I wrote down alllll of my (first trimester) thoughts as I had them, so I could publish them later. Ah, the internet is a wonderful place.

First Trimester Pregnancy Thoughts

Here’s what I was thinking about in the first trimester of my third pregnancy:

  • I need saltines.
  • I love these toddler snuggles, but my kid’s hair smells like wet dog and I really might throw up on her if I don’t get away.
  • I think I may lay on this couch all day long.
  • Must eat applesauce. ASAP.
  • I’m pretty sure I’m dying.
  • Please for the love, stop jumping on me, girls!
  • This baby will be fine if I eat nothing but carbs for a few weeks, right? Maybe a few months?
  • I swear this feels worse than my other pregnancies. It’s probably twins.
  • OHMYGOSH WHAT IF IT’S TWINS?! (bursts into actual tears)
  • Laundry can wait. Cleaning the house can wait. Putting on a bra can wait.
  • Oh great, sore nipples. Although my boobs are getting bigger, so that’s a perk.
  • Every time I open up the refrigerator I want to puke, so I guess the girls are only getting lunch from the pantry.
  • I need a nap.
  • Did I ever have energy? Ever in my life? How does everyone else want to actually do things?
  • Oh hey, flat stomach. I’m going to be missing you very soon.
  • (Looks at Pinterest for baby announcement ideas. Decides it’s all too much effort.)
  • I don’t understand how I need to pee so much when I’m barely drinking anything. Shoot, I need to remember to hydrate.
  • I cannot believe this nausea is probably going to last 10 more weeks. I’ll never make it.
  • Well shit, I prayed the symptoms would go away and today I feel much better and now I’m paranoid something is wrong.
  • (Goes to a restaurant and orders an expensive seafood entree… only eats mashed potatoes.)
  • Thank you Jesus, for the miracle of modern medicine and Zofran.
  • That is the cutest heartbeat I’ve ever seen! (8 weeks)
  • I don’t understand how I can sleep 9 hours and still be exhausted all day.
  • Seeing my little nugget at 12 weeks is such a relief. It looks like a baby in there!
  • Any social plan that starts after 7pm is so not happening.
  • Because I plan on being in bed by 8pm every night for the rest of my life.
  • Is this baby or bagel? (Pokes belly) … it’s too squishy to be baby.
  • I still love Zofran, but holy constipation. Yikes.
  • Now I’m exhausted from 2pm-9pm and wide awake from 9pm-12am! Fun!
  • Week 13 and things have only gotten worse. My neck hurts, my head hurts, I’m nauseous all day and night, and in the afternoons I’m so tired I can’t get off the couch.
  • Do I really have to do three more weeks of this?! (My prior pregnancies indicate, “yeah lady”.)
  • Genetic testing at 12 weeks was fun because we got to see the sweet little babe via ultrasound, but I guess we won’t get the results until my second blood draw at 15 weeks. This is the stuff I don’t remember from the first time around!

Right now I’m at 21+ weeks and have just finally started feeling well! This is the first week alllllll pregnancy in which I feel human again, praise the Lord. I feel unstoppable!

I’ll post a pregnancy update post soon, for those of you interested in that sort of thing.

I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season!

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How I Save Money On Holiday Cards

I feel like there are a few good options for saving money on holiday cards:

  • Eliminate a lot of people from your recipient list.
  • Take advantage of all of the deals.
  • Be creative with your printing.
  • Send boxed cards without photos. (Or electronic cards!)

For the past few years (and for our last baby announcement), I’ve gone with option #3. And a little bit of option #2 (if we’re being honest), but this just doesn’t seem to align with the holiday spirit of things.

How To Save Money On Holiday Cards

I love sending holiday cards, but I hate paying hundreds of dollars to do it!

So here’s what I do to save some money (while still creating/buying/sending personalized cards):

  • Design the front and back of the card myself. I usually use Canva.com, but if I really wanted a beautiful card, I’d find a graphic designer type person (or someone who can do that type of work) and pay them a few dollars to create a digital image. There are tons of great options on Etsy!
  • Take your digital image and upload it to Moo.com (this referral link will save you $25% on your first order).
  • Order the prints.

I usually order about 100 holiday cards from Moo.com and this year my total cost was less than 90 dollars, including shipping. So now I just need to put stamps on these babies and send them off to loved ones!

(This post isn’t sponsored, I love saving money on holiday cards and thought I’d share my method with you!)

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The Screen Time app. It’s ruining my life.

OK, this blog post may be a bit dramatic even for me. But seriously, this darn screen time app…

I mentioned in my last post that one of my November goals has been to limit my screen time to under 4 hours per day. Easy, right?

Evidently not for me!

I had no idea I spent over 4 hours per day on my phone. That seems crazy! But when I looked at what apps I was spending a lot of time on, it makes sense. Little amounts of time over the course of a day really add up! Plus I realize I pick my phone up to check email or other notifications way too  often.

How the screen time app has changed the way I use my phone

I also realized that on days I pick Clara up from preschool I log about an hour on Google Maps. Just for preschool pick-up! So of course I stopped using Google Maps to go everywhere I should know how to get to… and subsequently got lost a bunch of times. This is not surprising (well, it was to me, but shouldn’t have been) because I have a horrible sense of direction. So now I do things the old-fashioned way: I look up directions before I go and try to memorize the route. And when I get lost – which is inevitable – I turn on the Maps to get me back on track.

All for the sake of limiting my screen time!

I wish I could just exclude Google Maps from being counted at all, but I am considering this part of the challenge in getting myself away from my phone for everyday tasks.

The dependency must end! (Or does it? Should I just be embracing modern technology and its ability to get me from point A to point B?)

One of the positive changes I’ve made has been to set limits on how much I’m on Facebook and Instagram, and this little setting has made a huge difference in my aimless scrolling. I really do think everyone should set limits on apps that they find themselves clicking on for no apparent reason. When it’s 10pm and my little timer tells me that I only have 5 min of Instagram left for the day, I take that as a great indication that I need to be off my phone and go to bed.

Even though I think ignorance is bliss when it comes to knowledge about how much I’ve been on my phone – the changes I’ve made to get off my phone have been positive. I mean, sure sometimes I cheat the system. For instance, I look up more things on the computer instead of my phone (but I don’t use social media on my computer). However, overall I know I spend much less time in front of my screen.

And this means that I’ve been reading even more books than usual – always a good thing!

Tim has told me there are ways to get around this little app ‘ruining my life’ such as taking it off my menu screen or whatever-you-call-it on my iPhone. (Basically he’s saying I could hide it.) He also says I can download a different app to track it so that I can exclude Google Maps from being counted as ‘screen time’.

But I’m not a quitter – no sir – so I’m going to stick with using this measuring device to record my screen time and see if I can build some positive habits, especially during the month of November when this is a goal of mine!

Do you check your screen time? How do you feel about the amount of time you’re on your phone?

Posted in consciously evolving | Tagged , | 4 Comments