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Monday, December 29, 2014

All Set

I feel like we're on the final countdown here.  Last (partial) week of 2014, one more week of Christmas vacation then Real Life hits again in full force.  And I'm so NOT ready to get back to the normal routine.  Or maybe I just don't want to go down to the freezing cold shop and work on drying racks while the snow falls and the kids are home entertaining themselves -  and the attitude is just carrying over to everything?...
I have been enjoying the slower pace the past few days and not forcing myself to get up and go to the gym or work on a giant list of To Dos.  Though I do also enjoy being productive and being on top of things.  Both have their place and the art of balancing them has been on my mind a lot the last couple of days.  There are just so many parts and pieces that make up a life, aren't there?  And only limited quantities of energy, motivation, time, and money.
It may be cliche, but this time of year is when I get in that mode to really think about and reevaluate my life, my priorities, and the direction I want to take in the new year and I've been taking a few solid steps toward preparing to jump into the new year with both feet.  I am finishing up my final prompt for the OLW workshop I participated in this year (and starting to get excited for the process next year) and am pretty sure I have decided on my new Word for next year (that will get it's own blog post in a few days).  I sat down with Kaitlyn this morning and we revised and reprinted the Before Screens list for the kids (we haven't used the lists at all since the move and I've been having such a hard time keeping Tyler on track and self directed lately.  Hoping this alleviates some of the frustration and constant nagging) and have them hanging up ready to be used.  I have a few other things/ideas for interactions with the kiddos that are percolating in my head.  I even found homes for most of the new things we all got for Christmas and the clutter piles are nearly all gone.

I also picked up a weekly planner - something I haven't used in years.  I have a number of reasons for doing so.  First of all, I haven't been on the ball about putting things on my Google calendar and I'm hoping that having it all just in a hard copy will be easier for keeping track of appointments and schedules.  I know, right?  Old School.  But the bigger reason for purchasing a planner was for memory keeping/scrapbooking purposes.  My intention for the last few years has been to put together some kind of December Daily album (I know - lots of inspiration from Ali Edwards lately.  We must have similar personalities/tastes or something ;)  ) but I am never fully set up enough to do it as I go along, so this year I printed off a weekly calendar for December - you know the ones with a bunch of lines under each day of the week so you can take notes - and have been using it to keep track of some of the things I want to remember from each day.  I've seen that kind of idea before - using a calendar to write down one memory every day during your baby's first year and so on - and a light finally went off.  Those little squares on a calendar are not nearly enough room to write down a story from the day or any sort of detail but the idea of keeping it all in one place, in something that is easy to pick up and use, is a solid one.  So.  My plan for this year is to write down everything I want to remember in the weekly planner - funny quotes from the kids, details about daily life, stories of big events, etc.  Much easier than scrolling through Facebook posts, emails, and blog posts trying to figure out what happened during week ____ when trying to put together my layouts/albums.  Right now I'm thinking I'm pretty brilliant, but the true test will be a couple months into it to see if I have been following through on writing everything down on a regular basis.
I really am serious about doing more scrapbooking on a regular basis.  I even had the husband buy me a photo printer for Christmas - so exciting!  I still need to get another USB cord so I can hook it directly to my computer instead of printing solely from the camera's memory card but I have figured out the basics of how to use it and am very pleased with the photo prints so far.  So with the photo printer on hand and a weekly crafting date all set up with a friend I am looking forward to making a lot of progress with the scrapbooking this year.

Now I just need to finalize a few fun plans for New Years Eve (ack - someone tell me I'm not the only one that staying up until midnight doesn't appeal to! lol) and I think I'm all set to head into 2015.  Are you?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry MERRY Christmas!

Happy Christmas Eve!  I hope the next couple of days are magical for everyone!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Elf Antics 2014 - Week 3

Christmas is almost here!  Here's a look at what our Elves have been up to in the last week or so.
Day 15: hot chocolate!  They found a special Cookies and Cream version from Stephen's - MMMMMM
 Day 16:  crepe paper Christmas tree

 Day 17:  time for a Nerf dart war

Day 18:  the elves found the tablet and had used it to take photos of themselves (by the Christmas tree, posing by the dog, random selfies, etc) then used them as the desktopbackground photos on the tablet.

 Day 19:  Playing with Tyler's Minecraft toys and even found a Santa Minecraft head for Steve.  (The Steve is a printable I used for Tyler's Minecraft Party  and the Santa head is a printable found here that I just enlarged a bit before printing.  It wasn't quite big enough for one of our elves to wear, but it worked fine for Steve)

 Day 20:  We got home late last night and the kids forgot to open their Advent treat box before bed so the Elves did it for them.  Lucky for the kids, the elves didn't get as far as opening any of the chocolate!
 Day 21:  found the elves fast alseep under the Christmas tree, using the kids' stockings as sleeping bags.

Day 22:  the elves were having fun with the camera last night and took all kinds of photos.  (Printable photo props found here)

Day 23:  this morning they attempted to hitch a ride to school in the kids' backpacks.  I think we are all excited for the last half-day of school before Christmas break!

The husband hasn't "helped" the elves out much this year (it's been mostly my doing and I have to say it's a bit exhausting) but he thinks they should do a "ropes course" tonight.  Oh boy.  And of course they will also leave their farewell letter because tomorrow is Christmas Eve!

*If you are looking for even more Inspiration I'm constantly adding ideas I run across to me Pinterest board - even in July! ;)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Elf Antics 2014 - Week 2

So who else is having fun with their Christmas Elves/Elf on a Shelf this month?  We are!  Week two we found them:
Day 8:

Day 9: they got into all of the treats left over from the birthday party

Day 10:  must have been taking inspiration from my (body builder) brother.  Looks like Tinsel might benefit from a few personal trainer sessions.
Day 11:  found the sled on top of the entertainment center in the living room.  I'm told Twinkle almost met with a horrible accident when she toppled off and my brother's pitbull picked her up.  Luckily, the husband saw it and pried her out of his mouth before any damage was done.

Day 12:  packed the kids' lunchboxes
 Day 13:  changed out the light bulb in the hallway for a pretty stained-glass one.  Tyler said it looked like they were having a dance party.

 Day 14:  climbing the Christmas tree.  I'm afraid it looks like Tinsel must have taken a tumble or two.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Cards 2014

Hot chocolate, a corny Christmas movie on the Hallmark Channel, and a stack of newly arrived photos - that's how I spent some of my time on Saturday afternoon.  Love it.  Love the season.
Christmas cards have been making their way into my mailbox every few days and I've been having fun adding to my little Christmas Card book.  This is the 5th year I've been keeping them like that and it's been fun to flip back through all the past years, seeing all of my friends' children at different ages.  However, I've been a little anxious to get my own cards pulled together and out the door (so everyone can have our new address) and I was so happy to see that my Christmas photos had arrived at the post office a couple of days earlier than expected.  I sat right down and started putting them together and stuffing envelopes. 

There are so many great card options out there right now, but I get caught in the "I can just do it myself" mode every year - you know the one.  The day spent outside with the tripod and the camera on the self-timer, fingers crossed the whole time that the photos will look even half-way decent when you get home.  The time spent on Pinterest looking at card ideas and cute quotes trying to figure out the Very Best option for this year.  Then trying to pull it all together in Photoshop, using only the 4 commands I am familiar with.  ;)  And doing it all at 10:00 PM (when I'm normally in bed) because you realize your coupon code for photo prints expires that day.
All things considered, I didn't actually mind the process - I'm just laughing at myself for rushing through it yet another year.  One of these days I will remember to take photos in October with perfectly coordinated outfits and all of November to pull the cards together.  For now though, my method did still result in reasonably cute Christmas cards for the year - phew! ;) 
Ok time for a close look at them, right?


Well, I'm off to take photos of the kids playing in the falling snow.  Maybe I can use those photos for next year's card and be super duper on the ball for next time?! ;)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Time for the Tree!

It doesn't quite feel like Christmas until the decorations are up, does it?  I held off on putting up the tree until after Tyler's Minecraft party - I can only imagine what those wild and crazy kids would have done to the tree.  I have visions of a toppled tree and broken ornaments or at the very least we probably wouldn't have found all the Nerf darts before New Years!
But the day after the party, it was definitely time to pull some of the Christmas decorations out.
 All of our stuff is in a giant inaccessible stack in the garage right now so we used one of my Mom's trees and decorations.  It looked a little sparse when I first set it up but by the time we were finished with it I don't think there was a single bare branch.

 I also discovered that when it comes to decorating the tree, my Mom is a bigger perfectionist than I am.  We were all ready to call it good and she just kept going and going...

 Turned out gorgeous though, right?  I was happy I had taken the time to wrap gifts a few days before and stashed them in the closet so we would have some ready to put under the tree.
 And that, my friends, is the sum total of my decorating for this year.  We don't have much space right now and I'm happy with just the tree, and the stockings, and watching the Christmas cards slowly roll in from the mailbox so I can add them to my card collection.  I love Christmas!
Bambi does too ;)