Month: December 2016

Easy Meal Ideas for The New Year

Easy Meal Ideas for The New Year

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #LeanCuisine #CollectiveBias And just like that, we’ve sailed past Christmas and are rushing towards the New Year faster than you can say how-on-earth-did-that-year-go-by-so-fast? I’ve loved starting a new […]

Sounds of Nativity

Sounds of Nativity

Merry Christmas, friends! Christmas brings a lot of different associations with it. As we celebrate our Savior’s birth, many people think of cute Nativity scenes, a cozy manger, a “silent night.” But a few years ago it hit me – the reality wasn’t very cute […]

Fun and Easy Christmas Eve Traditions

Fun and Easy Christmas Eve Traditions

Christmas Eve is THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW!!!!

I feel like it tiptoed up behind me and yelled “BOO!!!!” This month has rushed by in a blurry whirlwind of fun and not-so-fun mashed in all together like life so often does.

My crazy busy work rush is tapering off now, both hubby and the kids are out on Christmas vacation, and we’re eagerly looking forward to the next few days of celebrating!

As I mentioned recently, growing up Christmas Eve was my very favorite part of Christmas each year. Because it was, I’ve tried hard to create new, amazing traditions we can do each year to make it just as special and magical for my kids.

Because we’ve moved so very often each year how and where we celebrate Christmas has changed dramatically each year. I quickly learned that if I wanted to celebrate Christmas Eve it needed to be in ways that I could do easily and anywhere.

Here is the list of our new cherished traditions that we look forward to every year. I hope that your family is able to use them as a springboard into creating a day that is magical and creates cherished memories for a lifetime!

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Baking & Decorating Christmas Sugar Cookies

While we had our cherished holiday recipes of Seven Layer Cookie Bars and Fantasy Fudge growing up it wasn’t until I started dating hubby that I discovered these amazing Christmas Cookies. Every year since then I’ve been able to enjoy them! In 2011 (when this picture was taken) I decided it would be super fun to start a new yearly tradition of making them each year on Christmas Eve. It’s a super fun activity and since the icing has to set up overnight it is perfect because then you serve them as the best dessert ever for Christmas Day! These sugar cookies are light and soft (be sure you don’t roll them out too thin so they do bake up that way) and I absolutely adore them!

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Making & Decorating Gingerbread Houses

Two Christmases ago the #1 thing on Amber’s Wish List was a Gingerbread Village, of course, that was followed by Tyler wanting a Gingerbread Train. They had so much fun with these that a new Christmas tradition was born. Since they’re inexpensive ( I spent around $7 each for these complete kits) I’ve decided to throw them into our yearly Christmas Eve traditions on years we’re not traveling (or you could do it even if you are traveling if the kids want to eat them up quickly and/or don’t mind leaving them).

Don’t want to run to the store to fight the holiday masses? I don’t blame you! Try making this healthier version of Santa’s Village using items you most likely already have in your pantry!

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Watch How The Grinch Stole Christmas & The Nativity Story

I’m not exactly sure when the tradition of watching  Dr. Suess’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas each Christmas Eve started. I do know, however, that’s it’s been one I’ve been doing since before Amber was born, and also from her very first Christmas as evidenced by this photo! Since the majority of this short classic flick takes place on Christmas Eve (“tomorrow is Christmas, it’s practically here!!” is a line we now shout along with the Grinch) it makes perfect sense why this has become our first and favorite easy tradition!

I went to see The Nativity Story in theaters the year it came out and fell instantly in love with their portrayal of the Christmas Story. Now I love watching it every year with the kids, and there’s no better time to enjoy it than to watch it on Christmas Eve to help get our minds back on the true meaning of Christmas!

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Eating Delicious Treats

Of course, it would be sheer torture to bake up those cookies and make the gingerbread goodies and then NOT have any special treats to actually eat ON Christmas Eve, especially during the movies! I’ll make a confession that one reason I pick up special goodies for the kiddos to nosh on is so that I can keep my oh-so-special mommy Christmas treats all.to.myself!!!! Oh yes mommies, fly that Mom Guilt right out the door! You’ve bent over backward to make this season magical and now it’s time for you to put your feet up, snuggle in with them in a cozy blanket, and eat scrumptious treats to your heart’s content!! My veeerrryyy favorite way to indulge at Christmas time is with decadent truffles and this mix from Shari’s Berries is my jam!! If you still feel guilty gifting it to yourself for Christmas Eve (which you *shouldn’t*!!) You can always add it on to your Christmas wish list or drop a link hint via email to your sweetie for Valentine’s Day 😉 Truffles not your thing (which, you must be crazy, but no judging!) They actually have a huge assortment of delicious Christmas Chocolates to choose from or an even bigger assortment of deliciousness for Valentine’s Day.

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Reading The Christmas Story from The Bible

By now you’ve had a full day of fun and magical activities and it’s time to wind things down and prepare for the evening! A wonderful way to wind the day down is by reading The Christmas Story out of the Bible. Now, you might think that since you watched The Nativity Story you don’t need to, but there really is just something magical about reading it out of the Bible aloud as a family! Here are the passages that my family has always read aloud, and I even have it in the post there so you could even print it out or read right from your tablet if you don’t feel like flipping!

If your kiddos are still wee ones a great alternative is to read the story out of a Baby Bible–all of them have a version of The Christmas Story in the “just right” length even for toddlers!

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Gifting a Christmas Eve Present

One of the most fun parts of Christmas Eve as a child, of course, were the presents. Since we celebrated over at my Grandparent’s House we always got to open our gift from them, and any from the Aunts and Uncles. It always felt a little like breaking the rules, which was absolutely delicious!

I wanted to continue this somehow for my children, and over the years I added bits and pieces until this simple Christmas Eve Present has become a treasure of Christmas Eve Traditions all it’s own!

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Special Yearly Christmas Ornament

It started out when we got married and our first Christmas together I discovered my mom-in-law’s tradition of gifting my hubby one ornament every single year since he was born. Imagine my delight when instead of a sparse Christmas tree with the few meager ornaments were able to afford as newlyweds we were able to decorate our tree with mementos and symbols from each year of his life! There was a McDonald’s ornament from his first job there, an Alaska Totem Pole from his summer missions trip there, and several Coast Guard ornaments to represents his years of service.

I was so in love with this idea that I’ve continued it every year for our children. Each year I try to find something that was the most important, or the most special, about that year and gift them an ornament about it. The year that we took a family vacation to Carlsbad Caverns we got ornaments from there, for last year I got them awesome ornaments from Personalized Ornaments For You for both the kids to represent their first soccer seasons, I loved that I was even able to get their actual jersey numbers and team colors! Then this year I scored big when I found this *adorable* Baby Murloc from the Etsy shop The Tall Grass. I’ve mentioned before that our family loves the game World of Warcraft. This year hubby, Amber, and I actually created a group and leveled all the way up to 110 together! It was so much fun and to commemorate the hours and hours of questing together I thought that this was the perfect ornament for her this year! I can’t wait to see her reaction this  Christmas Eve!

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Christmas Jammies

I had heard about this tradition through friends online and loved it! Their parents bought and gifted them new Christmas jammies each Christmas Eve so that they could wear them that night and have adorable jammies for all those Christmas pictures next day. I always make sure to buy mine a little big and then let the kids wear them all year long. Where I buy them each year varies depending on where has the cutest sets for the best deals. This year I saw a blogger tweet that Crazy8 was having a great deal on these way too cute sets so I nabbed them up! You can see Amber’s but since I didn’t want to unwrap Tyler’s his say “Bah Hum Bug” which is way too perfect since he’s been going around and saying that (as a joke) all month long!

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Christmas Book & Toys

Another Christmas tradition I found out about online that I absolutely loved was the Christmas Book A Day tradition. You gather 24 Christmas books then each year you wrap them up and then the kids get to open one book a day at bedtime for their daily story as a countdown to Christmas. We’ve done it for the past several years. To get to that point, however, I had to first *gather* the 25 Christmas books. To help with that I started a different tradition of gifting them each a Christmas Book (or two or three) with their Christmas Eve package. If you’d like to get a peek at my favorites you can check out the Best Christmas Books For Kids Here

Another fun item to place in the package is Christmas specific toys. Although my kids have long outgrown Fischer Price toys they still squeal with delight when I pull out their Fisher-Price Little People Nativity Set each year. Other favorites are this Rudolph beanie baby I picked up at a garage sale that is one of Amber’s all time favorites, and Snowby, the beyond adorable polar bear who shivers and who the kids still fight over whose turn it is to sleep with. Having toys that you only pull out at Christmas time make them super magical. For new toys I leave them out for the first year that I gift them, then after that, they get put away each year with the decor, it’s worked great for us!

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Driving Around To Look At Lights

There is something so perfect about driving around to see Christmas lights, and it doesn’t get better timing than to do it on Christmas Eve! Here in Texas, we have several local places that set up amazing and fantastic light displays! If you’re willing to fight hours worth of wait your patience will be rewarded both at Santa Land  and The North Pole of Texas

If you don’t want to battle the crowds, however, you can still go look at lights! Pour some hot cocoa in some mugs, bundle everyone up in those new Christmas jammies, and go to the nicest neighborhood in your town! Usually, the “mansions” have gorgeous Christmas lighting. I remember growing up we’d always drive around the fancy neighborhoods in Rock Springs. There was one house that always went ALL OUT and was simply breathtaking each year as the finale for the evening!

No matter how you celebrate from our family to yours we wish you a beautiful and magical Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! Praising Him for the greatest gift of all time!

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Delicious & Easy Pizza Dip Recipes

Delicious & Easy Pizza Dip Recipes

This shop for delicious pizza and accompanying dip has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone #FreschettaFresh #CollectiveBias While December means so many wonderful and magical things, ever since I started working from home it took on a […]

How I am Learning to Be Genuine and Vulnerable

How I am Learning to Be Genuine and Vulnerable

One of my recent self-discoveries and adventures has been about learning to be genuine and vulnerable as a person. It has been humorous to me because I didn’t even realize that I was being fake as a person in general. Do you ever have those […]

Affordable Vacations without Compromising on Fun

Affordable Vacations without Compromising on Fun

If you’re a little tight on funds or simply don’t want to deplete your savings account for a weeks’ vacation, you can choose to stay closer to home. There are many resorts that offer wonderful amenities that will give you the feeling of being far away at an exotic location without the need for expensive airplane tickets, passports and wads of cash. Listed below are a few of the many destinations that will bring you joy and relaxation, even on a tight budget.

Branson, Missouri

Enjoy a leisure-filled vacation in the Midwest with a picturesque setting that combines the majesty of unaffected surroundings with clean, crisp air. It’s a destination that warms the soul with peace and serenity while offering amazing amenities. At a vacation resort in Branson, you can do nothing or chose to select a different activity each day. Here you can stay at a first-class hotel or succumb to your surroundings and stay at a rustic and luxurious lodge. There’s a miniature golf course, a lake for fishing and kayaking, a large theater showing excellent performances, a fitness center, game room, fine dining, arts and crafts and cupcake wars.

Florida, The Sunshine State

There’s no better way to escape winter’s fury than a trip to the Sunshine State, Florida. It offers seemingly endless activities sure to make every family member happy. There are miles of beautiful sandy beaches where you can choose to water ski, swim, go boating, snorkeling or simply relax and take in the endless sunshine. If amusement parks are your thing, you’ve come to the right place. Here you can literally spend days hoping from Disney World to Universal Studios and get your fill of the many thrill rides. If you’re traveling with young children, these same destinations offer an endless supply of kiddie rides, shows and activities to keep your young adventurers content. Florida still has many miles of untouched acres like the everglades, as well as large farmer’s markets and the Kennedy Space Center.

San Diego, California

Want to visit the West Coast? San Diego is a beautiful destination with a lot to offer. There are picturesque beaches and rugged terrain that gives your body and mind a workout. Pack up a picnic basket and head over to Balboa Park. Here you can rent bikes and enjoy a peaceful lunch on a thick grassy lawn while listening to lively music from the Organ Pavilion. Nearby Torrey State Park has multiple trails where you can spend the day hiking and collecting rocks and other finds along the way. The journey takes you along paths created through rocky terrain with breathtaking ocean views.  Or, if you prefer, take a scenic drive and enjoy the history, local shops along the coast and delicious cuisine.

Maine, in the Summer

Maine has much to offer and a very little known destination keeps most of the fun to you. When it’s too hot in the summer to think Florida, try Maine. With an average temperature of just below 80-degrees, you can enjoy the white sandy beaches and actually cool off. Stay at a resort and enjoy endless amenities or you can rent a cabin or stay at a cozy bed and breakfast. Spend an afternoon shopping in Freeport, kick back and have fun at the Portland festival or enjoy a picnic under a shady tree in one of the many state parks. In Camden, there’s the Windjammer cruise where you can take in a bit of the area’s history and view lighthouses and piers or park the car at the coastal amusement park.

Vacations don’t have to break the bank. Before planning your next trip, check locations within a day’s drive and compare rates. You’d be surprised at the number of places that are within reach that offer world-class accommodations and amenities at a fraction of the cost.

About Me: Hannah

About Me: Hannah

Hi friends! I’m Hannah—Nicole’s “baby” sister and the (very excited) newest contributor to this fabulous blog! I’m a 23-year-old recent college graduate taking this crazy adventure called “life” one day at a time! I’m a writer, nerd, ENFJ, and Hufflepuff. 😉 I grew up in […]

Things to Remember When Prepping Your House Before Travel

Things to Remember When Prepping Your House Before Travel

Traveling is all about experiencing new places, creating memories, and taking a break from your normal life. The last thing anyone needs when traveling is to worry about bad things happening to their home while they’re away. It’s normal to worry, but you can relieve […]

Little Feet – Poetic Musings Of A Mom During Naptime

Little Feet – Poetic Musings Of A Mom During Naptime

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“WINTER IS COMING”, and with that, I find myself under the weather sipping on some delicious echinacea with elderberry hot tea to soothe my sore throat. I’m also presently cuddling under blankets marathoning some Netflix shows whilst the kiddos nap. Isn’t it fantastic? Nap-time is seriously my “introvert re-charge” of the day, I either nap, journal, binge-watch shows, or play around on facebook (who am I kidding, I’m a modern parent, I could shamelessly blow hours just Facebooking and socializing via online mediums).  Am I right?

During one of my little ones’ naptimes, I wrote this poem thinking about the hours each day they are not sleeping. I thought about how busy life is with children, and also how brief this season of my life is. A friend once told me, “The days are long, but the years are short,” which I later found out to be a quote from “The Happiness Project” by author Gretchen Rubin. I find those words to be so true! I am going to look back one day and it will all just be a memory. I want to cherish and hold fast to every moment, good and bad, for they make up my world and my story.

Hope you enjoy! Vulnerability and personal post #2 of the week! So, without further ado, I introduce to you, dear reader, a little free-verse poem called “Little Feet”. 

Little Feet

Excited feet patter around me.

The delightful sound of six little feet

Never escapes my pictures of memories.

 

I savor and soak in the moment,

Let is flow through me.

Soon,

Very soon,

These feet will be grown,

And have little feet all of their own.

 

The days will blur by into years,

And I will have just these moments,

These smudgy faces of dirty glee

To hold tight to

When the years pull me on.

 

I love these little feet surrounding me,

They have sewn my wounded soul.

My broken edges have become soldered complete.

 

So with the sunshine of tranquility,

I just sit and listen

To the little precious feet that patter around me.

By: Rebekah Clark 

Thanks so much for reading!

What are some things you will miss once this season of having young children in the home is over? I look forward to hearing back in the comments!

Had to share this photo of my gorgeous "foot model" for my title photo on this post! Isn't she the cutest? hee hee
Had to share this photo of my gorgeous “foot model” for my title photo on this post! Isn’t she the cutest? hee hee

 

With Great Affection,

Rebekah Clark

The Question

The Question

Happy holiday season, beloveds! Whether you celebrate traditional Christmas or something else. I wish you nothing but a season of love and peace. I am currently in school working towards my BSN in English, and I took a creative writing course this past semester. This […]