Thursday, November 29, 2012

Kwafty Kwismas.

This year, I decided to get a little crafty for Christmas. I haven't always been a major fan of all things homemade, but I'm kind of loving craftiness right now (most was Pinterest-inspired, some was middle-of-the-night inspired), so I decided to make some stuff for our house this Christmas season. It's quite possible that my motivation comes from the fact that last year I was great with child and had zero motivation to open my eyelids, much less decorate the house for Christmas. My husband and I schlepped the Christmas storage boxes down from the attic this past weekend and when I opened them, I laughed out loud. Despite being neatly labeled on the outside, the inside of every box was a haphazard mess, evidence that everything was thrown in by an almost-nine-months pregnant Katie one year ago, who knew that the Katie this year would understand. 


So, here is a little tour of our house bedecked for the season. The "theme" ended up being a lot of brown and gold, which I'm good with. Enjoy!

Well, okay, so the one thing that I did not make this year is my wreath (funny, since even craft-haters are usually not opposed to making their own wreaths!). I was actually a little stumped with what to do for a wreath this year, and this beauty showed up on my doorstep today, a surprise from my Memere in Vermont! It's real and beautiful and sheds needles everywhere. I love it.

And it has these bunches of ... something brown, that kind of ties into what I was going for. See? It just all comes together, folks.

Firstly, our dining room table. I love having a dining room table, if for nothing else than the fact that I get to decorate and stare at it. People say they don't want a formal dining room because they would never use it ... so what if we rarely eat in there! It's all about the seasonal knick-knacks you can use to bedeck it. That totally counts as using it. Totally.

The burlap came from my craft closet and the sticks came from my yard. Oh, and behold the delicious milk-glass cake stand. Delicious, I tell you.

Mmm, apothecary jars. I hijacked the idea for a mini-forest from my cousin, Ashlee. The "trees" are real branches cut from our Christmas tree and the fake snow is something I had originally intended as a craft for the kids, ha!


Poor little twig tree. I always do these trees with grandiose visions of what the final version will look like, and every year it looks like the Charlie Brown tree. Ha! I like it. Note that the burlap at the end of the table is tucked up on the table, to avoid being pulled on by a cruising baby girl. Hence, we refer to this room as the "dining room", as opposed to the "formal dining room".

Next up, the piano! This is one of my favorites. Our piano has a very large blank wall all around it, so I wanted something tall to stick up there. I saw something similar to this on Pinterest, only the bunting was strung on a mantle. I wanted to somehow incorporate it in this room, so, I used my best friend's idea for inspiration and voila! (Also: I purchased plain bunting at Hob Lob and stenciled the letters.)

This little church is the first piece of a village that I started with the kids last year. A veteran mom friend of mine showed me the village that her family built by adding one new piece every year and I loved that idea! I always wanted a Christmas village as a kid. But, I didn't want to start something expensive. Enter Home Depot. This piece was $15. Woot! We started last year and the kids picked out this church. I'm excited to see what they choose this year.

And here ... is our tree. Sweet thang. The shortest and squattiest tree we've owned thus far, and our children's pride and joy. No theme. No organization. Just an absolute Christmas mess with a beauty all her own. Her lights twinkle.

She's awesome.

Caleb thought it needed some "color" so here is his helpful addition of curled ribbon ...

(Note that Nemo has abandoned ship! He's heading towards the toilet!)

... and I was able to sneak some of my glass up at the top. Some.

Lots of homemade stuff. I love it.

And then our Advent Wreath, on the breakfast nook table. Love.

And our faithful little booklet of Advent readings.

The mantle! My sister-in-law and I did the board projects together. The texture of the bottom board made the writing a little wonky, but it was fun to do. I love the mantle this year. So merry and bright.

(Side note: No stockings. I know. I'm AWFUL. Well, not that awful. We always celebrate Christmas morning with grandparents who have stockings for everyone, so I've kind of slacked on the whole stocking thing. Well, that and the fact that I cannot, for the life of me, find stockings I love. Anywhere. I think that makes me a Stockings Snob.)

Good tidings of great joy ... to all people. It gives me chills to read it. Such powerful truth! And the reason we celebrate. I love seeing this reminder all day.

Here is the classy nativity I found at Wal-Mart seven years ago. Possibly historically incorrect, with only three wise men and no shepherds (what?), but it's sandstone and it's unique. So ... it stays. For now. We use the kids' Melissa & Doug nativity to actually tell the story.

"It's Christmas", y'all.

Our Advent calendar! It was originally hanging on the fireplace, but it kept falling down, so on the hearth it stays. It's filled with fun activities we can do throughout the month, including visiting a local museum, donating toys, finding three bell ringers to give money to, making Christmas cookies, doing Christmas crafts, seeing lights, etc. It was really fun to come up with these ideas!

And there you have it! My crafty Christmas.

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

If You Give Them An Inch ...

Before we had kids, our Christmas tree was a huge, fake beauty adorned with white Christmas lights and all things glass: Glass globe ornaments, glass icicles, glass figurines. If we put lights on our house, they were white and uniform, simple and clean.

Then, our family grew by one, two, three, to equal FIVE.

Now the outside of our home is decked in strands of colored lights that the kids picked out, with a walkway lined with twinkling candy canes, that the kids picked out. And our tree, chosen from a local tree farm (also by the kids) is short and squatty with colored lights and homemade ornaments, as the (breakable) glass globes and icicles become fewer and fewer as they slowly make their way to the back of the tree.

And every year I fight the Mom urge to maybe usher them to this larger, taller tree! And look at these pretty (albeit boring) white lights! Let's use those! But their little eyes light up with joy as they stand in front of that short, squatty tree (possibly even shorter than last year's short, squatty tree) and I shrug and acquiesce.

I mean, I had my run. I had my season. My season of perfectly placed Christmas decorations that went untouched (HA), viewed by those who attended Christmas parties I hosted, and now .... now we're in a new season. A season of early bedtimes, a smaller social calendar, and little kids who have a particular affinity for the sparkly over the stylish.

And I still have my things. I pick the door wreath and the Advent wreath and my table decor and the mantle. I have my spaces. I've just waved the white flag with the others.

And, oddly enough, I wouldn't change a thing.

What about you? Do you have a preference in your home? Do the kids get one tree and you get another? Has it changed over the years?

Have a lovely day.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Done and done.

The fact that my brother wore a wolf shirt made it that much better. ;) Hilarious.

Biting our medals like Olympians! It was a great experience and I cried when I finished. The marathon mascot (a giant giraffe, I believe) placed the medal around my neck and I embraced him, weeping, as he awkwardly patted my back. It was awesome. ;)

More later! and sleep. :)

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thirteen. Point One.

So, tomorrow I run my half-marathon. Even though this is something I've been preparing for, I still feel like the race snuck up on me. We just got home from a trip and we're about to leave for another, and the race is neatly wedged right in between the two, giving me one more thing to add to my to-do list before we head out of town. Clean, laundry, pack, run half-marathon, load van. Ha!

I've been trying to think of a way to sum up what this race means to me. I know I will want to look back and read my thoughts leading up to it. The truth is, this race is just very poignant. Can something be "very" poignant? Anyway. You know what I mean. After Lydia was born, running gave me something to do outside of the house. It gave me time to think and clear my head. Even though I'm still not a runner, I understand the benefit of running for this reason. And it was also a sweet time that Lydia and I had together. She would wake up around 6:15 and after I nursed her, I'd put her in the jogger and away we would go. I pushed her in the jogger all the way up to eight miles. She really was my running buddy--adding mileage was so much better with her along with me. We would celebrate together with lots of laughs and kisses.

My motivation for wanting to run the half-marathon in the first place is actually kind of funny--Lydia was just a few weeks old when I registered (and I wasn't running at all yet). I'm pretty sure my rationale was this: The prospect of juggling three kids three and under seemed all but impossible, and so did running a half-marathon. I figured, What the heck! Let's see if I can do both.

(We'll go ahead and blame postpartum hormones for that one.)

And everything just kind of fell into place. Lydia's early wake up times on Saturdays got me out of bed to run. The weather was glorious for several weekends in a row, allowing me to add miles. The cross-training I had started several months earlier with Alyson gave me the strength to press on. I had people around me training for the same race, which gave me encouragement. And bit by bit, the puzzle started coming together.

This all happened in the midst of one of the busiest seasons of my life. Learning to manage three little ones is a daily test of patience and diligence. I have grown more and been humbled more each day, really.

When I'm out on a country road, running in silence, I realize the privilege it is to have legs that can run. Lungs that can breathe. A heart that is pumping. Life. My mind wanders to the loss of Aunt Pam and I've run with tears streaming down my face from thoughts of her. I'm running this race in her memory and I'm wearing red.

It's the culmination of so many things, these thirteen miles. I get to run them with my brother and I'm thankful for that.

So, here we go. My only goal is to cross the finish line, preferably on my own two feet and not on a stretcher.

Have a lovely day, friends.

Monday, November 12, 2012

ThanksChristmasgiving Time.

So, friends, it's fall. The leaves are falling, the air is cooler, the shadows are longer, and it is undoubtedly that blessed transition season between summer and winter. Glorious. Pumpkin spice is on the shelf, there's a fire in the fireplace, and Hobby Lobby is stocked to the hilt with Christmas stuff.

Wait, what?

Oh man, this used to BOTHER me! I hated how Thanksgiving had a few puny weeks of recognition at the beginning of October and then suddenly BAM! Out come the Christmas trees, Christmas candles, Christmas wreaths, Christmas Christmas Christmas. Before November even happens, Christmas is on the go, with commercialism fires burning, leaving poor Thanksgiving in its wake.



For some reason, this year it hasn't bothered me quite so much. Or, more accurately, I'm seeing it differently. I'm excited to see the Christmas stuff perched on the shelf. I'm excited for the holiday season. To quote my two year old, "It's my fave-wit!" In a lot of ways, I think the "season" of Thanksgiving is quite appropriate to usher in the "season" of Christmas. Gratitude is always a nice platform. And, I know, people have their anti-Thanksgiving sentiments, claiming the pilgrims were vegan or something and that it actually happened in Hawaii or whatever but I, for one, love Thanksgiving and the turkey and the sweet potato casserole and the general history behind it. Call me a sucker or naive. You're probably right and I don't care.


Either way, for some reason, this year I am seeing a bit of cohesiveness between the two seasons that has left me feeling fine with the onslaught of Christmas decor dominating the shelves of the stores I frequent. I mean, don't get me wrong--I'm not advocating the commercialism of it all--I'm speaking on the general spirit of it all. I really don't mind the overlap. 

But what do you think?

If you do a Christmas tree, do you set it up before or after Thanksgiving? Do you have a general rule?

Do you think Thanksgiving gets the recognition it deserves or do you even care at all?

Just some curious Christmas questions. :)

Happy Monday, friends!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


After Cub was taken to school, I bundled up the girls in hats and coats. I hoisted our massive double-jogger into the van and unlocked the wheels and removed them so it would fit. I packed my purse with snacks, filled a sippy cup, pulled on my own coat and scarf, and loaded everything into the van. When we got to our polling station, I unfolded the (massive) double-jogger, attached the wheels, stashed snacks in the pockets, unbuckled the girls from their car seats, carried one then the other to the jogger and buckled them in, closed the van doors, locked it, took a deep breath, and pushed the jogger towards the building.

An elderly gentleman stopped us along the way and knelt down to peek at the girls. He smiled and talked sweetly to them, looked up at me, and tipped his hat. It was then that I actually took notice of his hat, and saw that he was a WWII veteran. I grasped his hand and said, "Thank you" with tears in my eyes.

For all of the "work" that it took me to get my little ones to the polling station this morning, this gentleman's presence was humbling and poignant--his life, sacrificing who knows what, experiencing the unthinkable ...

... all for me.

To keep my freedom.

To keep my rights.

To vote.

I know he heard my words, but my true gratitude was shown by taking my girls and exercising the right that he fought for, for me. A stranger.

Go vote today, friends. Our friends around the world do not necessarily have that luxury. And yours was paid for, dearly.

Have a lovely day.

Monday, November 5, 2012

But I Don't Wanna.


It's safe to say I've had a severe case of the "I Don't Wanna"'s for the past few weeks. My alarm goes off for cross-training. But I don't wanna get up. We finish a meal. But I don't wanna clean up. There's laundry. I don't wanna do it. The van is a mess. I don't wanna clean it.

And so on and so forth.

Exemplary maturity, yes?

You see, my life is a precious balancing act. I have to keep certain plates spinning to keep other plates from falling. I have to keep the dishes running through the dishwasher. If they pile up, then it's a mad rush to empty the dishwasher during the prep for the next meal, with hungry kids at my heels. I have to do a load of laundry a day. Between an adventurous big kid, a messy toddler, and a baby with reflux, they can each go through two outfits a day, easily. If I don't do a load of laundry every day, then our laundry gets behind. And suddenly my husband has no pants and I'm wearing the same shirt I wore yesterday (okay, sometimes that's by choice). Beyond those constant chores, there's the vacuuming, dusting, toy-organizing, mopping, etc. Add in taking care of three kids and it's quite a load! And it's not like these busy days happen every once in a while. Y'all, it's EVERY DAY. Yesterday, I actually threw my hands in the air, plopped on the floor in angry-toddler-like fashion, and declared, "IT'S NOT FAIR!"

Because this is the natural culmination of a whiny bad attitude: A feeling of entitlement. I am so annoyed and overwhelmed and grumpy that it's just not fair ... for me. I, I, I. Me, me, me. What I'm really saying, is, "I am entitled to sit down!" "I am entitled to ignore responsibility!" "I am entitled to make my world all about me!" "I AM ENTITLED TO THROW THIS FIT."

I had a really great talk with my friend, Alyson, during a race last weekend. We talked about where the source of our joy comes from (as I alluded to in my previous post). Every day, I mean, EVERY DAY I fall into the trap of finding joy in external things. Which means, therefore, that I allow external things to steal my joy. Piled laundry, rice leftovers on the floor, a sippy cup with clumpy milk hidden under the couch ... oh, they can make me so ANGRY!

Really? A sippy cup? Makes me angry?

A sippy cup steals my joy?

When I pause and think about it and take the time to look into my circumstance through the big picture, it's silly. I'll just rinse the cup out (or, throw it away ... we've all found THOSE cups before!). No big deal. If I remind myself of the source of my joy--that God has given me these responsibilities as opportunities to serve Him and embrace my family--then the mundane and tedious become wonderful. And despite my yawning, my tired muscles, my overused brain (I can't even make coherent sentences anymore, really) ... I am able to choose joy and find joy. I have to fight against myself; oh man, my "I don't wanna"'s are really awful sometimes. But if I can change my mindset and be thankful, then the selfishness fades.

And oh, faded selfishness is the best. Surrendering the entitlement is wonderfully liberating. Because, once I have stripped away the selfishness, then I am humbled to pray. To seek help. To recognize my need for God's grace and strength. And joy.

And life can proceed as it was intended to.

Goodness knows, we don't need another toddler in this house. ;)

Have a lovely day.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Knaves, All Three!

Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in the tub! 

And who do you think they be?

The Butcher!

The Baker!

The Candlestick Maker!

Put them out! Knaves, all three!

(Happy Belated Halloween.)

Friday, November 2, 2012

This Is Why I Caffeinate.

A text message between the bestie and myself during a stressful dinner prep, after a CRAZY BUSY day that started when I hit the ground running at 5:00am and included cross-training, a trip to the aquarium, running kiddos all over town, flying through the grocery store, and finding a stray cat in my minivan. My life, y'all. My life.

Yes, fish sticks.

Have a lovely weekend, friends!