A beautiful winter wonderland Christmas!

I know it’s the middle of January and I’m just posting about Christmas, but doesn’t it seem like it was just yesterday?  This month is already flying by which is why I needed to stop for a minute and document what a wonderful Christmas we experienced.  Chris and I have been married for 7 years and this was our first Christmas at our HOME. Yes, it took us until we had three kids to realize that traveling with small children for the holidays was getting to be a bit much.  We were excited, yet on the other hand just a tad nervous…what would it be like without all the old traditions and being surrounded by extended family?  Well, it was memorable!  Note to our families: Don’t worry, it won’t be like this every year, but making new memories year by year is all we can ask for!

We enjoyed a beautiful Christmas Eve service at our church, a fun dinner with our friends at Ann Sather and topped off the night with preparing cookies and milk for Santa along with Daddy reading “The Night Before Christmas.”  Christmas morning was priceless…waking up in our own home, kids running upstairs to see that Santa came to visit and the joy on their faces with all the gifts.  They were so grateful for everything they received so what more could we wish for?   After opening gifts, we looked outside to see it was a white Christmas afterall…our first snow of the year.  At one point I found myself in tears, overwhelmed with love and thanked God for the wonderful blessings he has given me in my husband and healthy, happy children. The genuine smiles in these pictures below tell the story of our Christmas.

The day following Christmas, Chris’ family arrived for a few days.  We went to Navy Pier for Chicago’s Winter-wonderland, and Children’s Museum, did some shopping and ate lots and lots of food!  Since this was my first year hosting a holiday, I finally felt my age, and my role in life…a wife and mother!  Thank goodness I had wonderful examples in my Mom and Grandmas who helped me get to this point…I was busy planning ahead, cleaning, organizing, baking, cooking and making sure everyone enjoyed themselves.  I think I succeeded.

Our Christmas was wonderful and our New Year has started off great.  We are blessed…not a day goes by that we don’t thank God for the life he has provided for us.

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Our advent calendar!

This past month I have been very proactive with things concerning Christmas…I wanted it to be a relaxing time of year where we are able to sit back, enjoy this time together and reflect on why we celebrate this special day.  For the first time in 10 years, since we have lived in Chicago, we will be staying home for Christmas.  That alone makes this year feel so much more special already…the stress of packing and figuring out how to get gifts to where we are staying, along with the traveling piece is enough to create so much anxiety for a Mom (and Dad, too) that I’ve always seemed to lose focus on the importance of the holiday.  I am thrilled to be hosting my family this coming weekend and Chris’ family will arrive after Christmas.  I have already been meal planning!  I’m going to attempt some of my Grandma’s favorite Christmas snacks (both Shike & McKeown)…so we will see if I’m able to carry on the traditions!

The day after Thanksgiving Parker started asking “When’s Christmas?”.  I realized it was time for an advent calendar so he could have a visual of the count down and could stop asking every day if tomorrow was Christmas.  In years past I’ve heard all these great ideas other Mom’s do to involve their kids in Christmas activities daily, but I never felt I could keep up with it so why put in the effort.  Plus in the past we’ve always left home for Christmas so I thought to myself, why start something I can’t finish.  Just an excuse, I guess, to not want to try something new and fail.  Silly, really!  So, this year I took a completely different approach.  My Mom found me the perfect advent calendar…it has small pockets I can put a note in if I’d like, otherwise we just move a heart from one day to the next.  Quite simple, which is EXACTLY what I needed.  Prior to Dec 1st, I came up with 25 different things we could do each day until Christmas.  Well, by the 3rd, I’d already missed a day and quickly decided to give myself some grace and do what I could! Good thing I did considering I had to take 3 days off to potty train my daughter.  Hadn’t planned on that one, but what a wonderful Christmas wish to Chris and I…only one in diapers for Christmas?  Yes, please!   The things we have done together have been great and the conversations around what Christmas is all about have humbled me and made me laugh!  I’m just grateful for the quality time I’ve had with all my children during these activities!

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Our Advent Calendar

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Parkertree Ryanntree

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An excellent site I have borrowed a few ideas from is Lil Light O’ Mine.  This site provides numerous ways to involve kids in lighting up the lives of others!