family · life · through my camera lens

Quiet Christmas

It’s the 26th of December! Can you believe it? Can you believe that in a few short days the year 2018 will be over? Onto 2019… crazy I tell you!

Yesterday was Christmas. We enjoyed a quiet day at home. The boys were so excited to wake up and find that Santa had put Lego ornaments in the stocking decorations they have hanging on their bedroom doors. Colby also found a letter from Santa in his stocking. He had written a letter to Santa. Colby’s letter was true Colby. It talked about the spirit of Christmas and thanked Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves for bringing joy to the children around the world.

The boys explored the gifts left from the man in red, Santa does not wrap the gifts he leaves at our house, so there was no unwrapping just yet. We opened stockings. Dixie went first! She didn’t want to wait for anyone else to open theirs before diving into hers.

Since our day was slow and quiet we decided to take time then to just stop and have breakfast. This also stretched out the gift process. The boys got to go shopping at a Christmas shop at their school. This meant they got to purchase gifts for the rest of us without having to wait for us to take them shopping. They were so proud of the gifts they choose.

We opened the gifts we gave each other. Each year we get the boys a few smaller gifts and then a few big gifts. They were so excited to open their big gifts and were happy with the choices. When Colby was in kindergarten we decided this was the best way to deal with the holidays. Our children have never been super materialistic and they have a lot of things and do not need much. So we decided at that time to start buying experiences. Things that we can use, do or experience together as a family.

These times have always been a way to stretch the season out a bit longer.

When the gifts were done we moved onto the quiet of the day. We watched the Disney Parade. They boys and Richard started working on Lego kits. We played games. The boys used technology and I caught up on some of my taped shows.

I then cooked a turkey to have for dinner. Since we didn’t have turkey on Thanksgiving, since we were away, I decided it was a good opportunity to have turkey.  We wrapped up the night with more games.

It was a quiet day. It was a calm day. It was perfect.


family · life

Merry Christmas

What Christmas means to me…

Christmas is a time of love, wonder and magic. There is nothing as special as waking up Christmas morning and seeing the joy and excitement in your child’s eyes. This is the 13th Christmas with Blake. That in itself seems crazy to me. It is so fun to watch the boys grow and change. To see the gifts under the tree switch from huge bit plastic baby toys to bikes to Lego kits.

The boys get so excited on Christmas eve as they set out milk and cookies for Santa. We put the Santa key outside on the front door. Colby continued the tradition of writing a special letter to Santa to leave with the cookies.

They went to bed and struggled to settle down. First Blake shouted out “It’s Christmas”. A few minutes later Colby yells out “Merry Christmas to all”. Then they finally managed to settle down.

It is so exciting to see their joy and excitement. To see that they are ready for the holiday.

There may not be as many gifts under the tree. But there is still as much love and excitement for our whole family.

I hope the big man in red was good to you and your family. I hope you found the joy and excitement of the holiday season and enjoy this special day with friends and family.

blog hop · life

Blogmas- Christmas Eve Traditions

Growing up Christmas Eve meant going to mass and then a big dinner. When I was a child, and the again when I was a young adult, I sang in the church choir so I would always sing for the Christmas Eve mass. I preferred to sing at the early mass, but when I was an adult I would typically sing at the Midnight Mass.

Our family would then come home and have our big Christmas dinner together. On Christmas day we would typically have to travel to see family, so Christmas eve was our time together.

There was a few years where we went to a friends house for Christmas Eve’s dinner. They were Italian and had the feast of 7 fish. This was a lot of fun and we enjoyed the company and good foods! I can also remember sitting on the couch with their grandmother and watching the Sound of Music each time.

When Richard and I got married we declared that Christmas eve was a time for just our family. Every year the four of us spend Christmas Eve together. Sometimes we make a big meal, but other years we have had pizza or soup and sandwiches. It isn’t about what we eat, it is about the 4 of us being just the four of us.

Even when we’ve had company in town for the holidays we have found a way to make Christmas Eve just for the 4 of us. I hope to continue this tradition as the boys get older, but I know that things will change as other people come into their lives.

I think it is important to spend the holidays with the extended family and friends, but it is just as important to carve out time for those who live in your house.

blog hop

Blogmas- Stocking Fillers

When I was growing up we always got a toothbrush, a few small toys, chocolate coins and other small items in our stockings. You knew if you found batteries in there that you were getting some kind of electronic item as a gift.

For my sons, we typically get them Lego kits, match box cars, Pokemon/Football cards, and some other small items. Richard and I do not exchange gifts so our stockings are the only items we buy for each other (other than the gift that the boys give each of us).

Stockings were always a fun way to start the process of gift opening. it was the time to dump everything out and see what fun little this and that could be found inside.

I try to continue this tradition and hunt down things that will make their stockings fun and special.

blog hop

Blogmas- Gift exchange

Today’s topic is gift exchange. I’m guessing that this is addressing group gift exchanges, such as for work and such.

Hmmmm what do I think of this one? I think it depends. I do like the idea of having to get one gift instead of a whole bunch of gifts. But, then I always struggle with the whole idea of what to buy. I really hate the “buy a gift for a female” or male depending on your gender. This is so generic. Often times people buy things that they would like, and if you’ve read my blog enough you know that most likely means I wouldn’t like it. I don’t wear a lot of makeup. I’m super picky about accessories especially jewelry. I have more baking/cooking items than I’d need. So what do you get? The easy answer is a gift card. But then where do you get it? So many people go… I know Starbucks. Ummm I don’t like Starbucks (neither does Richard). So what do you buy???

I don’t mind doing it when I know the person and even more so if you are given a cheat sheet list. Then they know what you like and have some kind of direction on what to get. You have some premise on what is a good gift and can put a bit of thought into it.

We are doing a Secret Santa at work this year. We are buying $5 gift for the first two weeks and then a $10 gift for the holiday party. I purchased my person a cute snowman mug and hot chocolates (hot chocolate was on her list of drinks she likes). That was week 1. This week I did 3 smaller gifts. I got her an inspirational bracelet (she said she liked inspirational books), 2 bottles of a drink she likes and then 3 chocolate bars (she said that chocolate was something she likes but doesn’t buy herself). For her big gift I have pens, a notebook and then a snowman dip bowl.

My Santa got me a bottle of water, hummus and pretzels and chocolate Santa bars for week one. This week they left me a hugs Minnie mouse mug and hot chocolate.  These were all ideas that are off my list.

So I guess for me I don’t mind exchanging gifts, with criteria?

blog hop

Blogmas- Homemade Presents

Its my 7th day of Blogmas and my list said to me…. talk about homemade gifts please.

Homemade gifts…. hmmm my first reaction is ummm no thank you. But, then I think about it and I think it is more…. it depends.  I do give out home baked cookies often as gifts, so that is a homemade gift. I have received some homemade gifts over the years that have meant something to me, or were at least special at the moment.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that it typically isn’t the gift that means something to me, as much as the thought behind the gift. If I feel like you picked out, made, purchased, whatever a gift because you felt it would mean something to me, it is a worth while gift. If I know you spent time putting it together, finding the right item, baking, whatever and you did it to bring joy to me, and/or my family, and others that you created the gift for… than it is special.

So often we get stuck in thinking about the end product. What will I use this gift for? How will this gift effect my life? And, we forget to think about why the person picked out the gift in the first place. Why did they think I would like this?

When you create a homemade gift you are more likely to put thought into the gift. You will put time, effort and love into creating something for someone. It puts the giving back into gifts. So, I say if you are going to put the thought into what you make and who you make it for. If you are going to put your time and energy into creating the perfect gift… than go for it. Even if the receiver doesn’t appreciate it to the level that they should, you will know that you put the giving back into gifts.

blog hop · food · life

Blogmas- Gingerbread Houses

Today’s topic is Gingerbread Houses… Hmmm I’ve never actually made a gingerbread house. I think they are pretty cool to look at and checking out the ones at Disney were always on the list of to dos when we lived in FL. We got to see a HUGE one on the Disney Cruise when we were on the Disney Cruise two years ago.

But, I don’t get the point of them. Who would actually eat them? If you aren’t going to eat them then why go through the process of making them? Isn’t that just wasting food?  And the time it takes to bake them, make the icing, and then assembly them? It also seems like an engineering nightmare. Does it take forever to get all the walls actually standing and staying upright?

So, while I will go see the overly decorated and over sized gingerbread houses around…. I won’t be making one anytime soon.

Make sure you hop over to the other bloggers who are joining in the Blogmas fun!

blog hop · life

Blogmas- Christmas Music

The next topic on the Blogmas list is Christmas music. I love music of almost every kind. I always have Christmas music playing during the season. We listen to Christmas music on our Alexa. At work, I have instrumental versions of Christmas music playing while the children are working. I always find the all Christmas radio station for my car.

Now, do I like ALL Christmas music…. nope. There are some songs that I think are way over played/over sang. There are ones that I like sung by some but NOT by others.

I know some people love the new songs and some prefer of the traditional ones, But, I love a mixture of both. Christmas music should bring a smile to your face and your heart. Just listen to the “When Christmas Comes to Town” from the Polar express and you will feel what Christmas music should feel like.

blog hop · life · through my camera lens

Blogmas- Annual Ornaments

It’s day 4 of our Blogmas countdown! You can still join in the fun, just start on 1 there are still 20 days until Christmas!! Wait, there are only 20 days until Christmas… eek! Or that means there are 20 more days to enjoy the holiday fun before the holiday is here. Hmmm whichever way you look at it… there are 20 days until Christmas.

Today’s topic is Annual Ornaments. This is a topic I know a LOT about. As a child, my mom picked out ornaments for my brother and I ever year. We also got an ornament every year from my mother’s cousin. Plus we made ornaments in school. That in conjunction with the random ornaments I got from friends and others was a lot of ornaments. When I moved out of my parents’ house, I had enough ornaments to cover my whole 6′ Christmas tree.

On my parents tree now there is one Santa to represent each member of the family. She bought it the first Christmas with each new family member… well not me. My first ornament was an angel and I have that one. I didn’t get my first Santa until I was in my teens. I kept that one too so she had to purchase a new Santa to represent me on her tree, but it’s all good!

As a parent, I began purchasing new ornaments for my boys each year. I take time and search out the perfect ornament for that year. The first year they each got a Santa… see how that works?!? Then from then on I found ornaments that might mean something to them. They have some that are the same/similar and other years the ornaments are nothing alike. The boys each put up their own ornaments on the tree. They love finding the ones that are the same/similar and putting them together. They also have a collection of one they made with me or at school. They have ones given by other family members, including my mother’s cousin who now gives the ornaments to my boys instead of to me.

I know that when my boys move out, they will be given a box of ornaments for their tree. And I will keep one or two to represent them on my own tree…


blog hop · life

Blogmas- Winter must haves

The third Blogmas topic is winter must haves. Hmmm what must I have for winter?

I think you can look at this in a few different ways. What items do I have to have to get through the cold and dreary of winter?  Boot! I love shoes and having a variety of boots to choose from is always a good thing.  When I lived in FL there were so many people who would be walking around in boots, I just couldn’t wrap my head around the concept. I’m not just talking about wearing cute boots that have style, but no warmth function. I would see people wearing snow boot. People would be wearing Uggs…. what why? But now that I’m in PA I say wear boot every day from Oct-Mar and you are good to go.

Another must have for me is layers. I love to pop on an unlined zip “sweatshirt” over my shirt just to add an additional layer of warmth. The new feature of the thumb hole is a favorite of mine too. I love the it covers a bit of my hand and keeps it that much warmer.

What other things must I have for the winter? a good hot drink when I get home for work each day. Some days I make hot chocolate, others favored coffee and others tea. Right how I’m working my way through a tea advent calendar.

A cozy blanket to wrap up in on the couch is another must. I have a stack of them in my living room and a few in the basement tv area. When you are curled up on the couch watching tv, wrapping up in a blanket just feels like a necessity.

What are your winter necessities? Want to join in this blog hop fun? Start on day 1 and go through all the topics. Hop over to Abby’s blog to read the rules. Also check out the other bloggers who are having fun with this blog hop.