Spring cleaning ain't got nothin' on the long, cold, windy, snowy winter closing in on us here in New England. Nothing delivers a pick me up like a little re-arranging.
Once the Christmas decorations come down, its like we see our homes with a new eye and new perspective and we get an itchin' to make some changes, do some re-arranging, even some heaving and tossing.
After many months of lego-building, but never wanting to take apart his creations, I finally found a system for all of T's masterpieces. I went shopping in the basement (sometimes it pays not to give stuff away) to pull out this former toy
bin turned lego sorter.
PERFECTION!! Now he keeps his lego table
clear and can actually play on it and build on it!! (kind of the concept all along)
Boy all set - on to mama.
This chair - where I rocked that sweet-infant-baby-now-lego-building-big-kid needed an update.
Thomas was the 5th, maybe 6th infant to be rocked in this well loved, hand me down chair (read:used), and it was starting to show its years. After sharing with my husband my rehab plans and the cost, he put his foot down. "Honey - I don't even like the chair! I can't justify spending that much to bring it back to life".
I pouted. But wait - before he is cast as a big meanie, he didn't say we weren't going to spend the money.
He said we weren't going to spend the money on THAT chair.
Instead, he offered to buy a new chair. A chair just for me. A chair for my morning quiet time, for my evenings reading books by the fire, for sipping my tea while we have our chats - him in his cozy chair, me in mine.
"Happy Anniversary" he said, albeit 3 weeks early, when I finally made my choice after waaaay too many hours perusing countless stores. When the hubs and I get an idea our heads, we are determined and focused (read:one-track minded).
(It is worth sharing that Thomas accompanied us on those many shopping trips and was SORELY disappointed that we did not chose one of the several power recliner lift chairs he had made himself comfy at home in!!)
And with the new chair, came a new set-up for this room.
"Living Room" is clearly how our front room should be defined, but that sounds so formal and stuffy - definitely not us.
I think I'm bringing back the title "gathering room" - that is so much more who we are.
So here is our gathering room before...
these pics are a little old but depict the original set up that has been in place for 3 yrs.
While I would have loved to have brought the old rocker back to life - salvage and furbish it - I knew this was not the piece I was going to win the fight for. But I do love that this gathering room is not just of people, but of memories, and of furniture old and new:
- the rug is from my parents' house - the home I grew up in
- the coffee table is from my maternal grandparent's house
- the end table next to the sofa is from my paternal grandparents house.
- And I'm delighted the standing lamp has made it back to such a central spot (it was hiding in the office for a short time). My dad's dad built it and I just love it - it deserves a prominent spot in our home - to be admired and cherished.
Aaah - feeling lighter, breathing easier, enjoying the rush of a re-design pick me up. Hoping this will hold me over til spring....
I sure am taking my sweet, slow time settling into this new year. 2014. I can't even reconcile that in my brain.
Today is more than 19 days into this new year, and I'm still getting this house in order after a Christmas season.
Still deciding upon and writing up my goals and resolutions.
Still getting back into routines and schedules.
It seems to late to give you a Christmas update, but we had a beautiful season, with lots of time together as Daddy was on vacation for nearly 2 weeks. That's partly why I'm so slow in getting ramped up - because I didn't want to spend any precious family time to wrap things up and put things away and get things in order.
And why rush anyway. Because January is long and slow here in New England, and I've come to appreciate and even look forward to that, because I feel
like it gives me all the excuses in the world to just
The fireplace beckons to be put to its beautiful purpose.
And the stove calls for a pot, or two (dare I try three?) of loving home cooked goodness.
And the blankets and pillows call out for a snuggly books-in-bed festival.
And the knitting basket stares at me ...
or the craft bin ....
or the files of photos that need organizing ...
or that book from the library.
So we do lessons on the couch, under the blanket, in front of that fire,
while munching on popcorn, freshly popped old-school on the stove top.
And occasionally I take care of a project on my to-do list - like organize my desk, clean out pantry, cull out the excess.
So - today I'm sharing with you all my Christmas creed. But first you have to do something for me.
Promise me, then promise yourself, that you will use my list as a resource, for ideas, as a jumping off point.
Promise me, then promise yourself, that you will NOT use my list for comparison, to get down on yourself because you don't do something I do.
Promise yourself that most important key to having the "perfect" holiday season is to do what YOU want, not what is on my list.
Do we have a deal? Okay, good....you may read on.
Brasil Christmas Creed (which by the way is in no particular order - just all items to keep in the forefront of my mind
Christmas Cards - start them earlier - have them done by Thanksgiving weekend.
I've done them early, I've done them late, and I really must say, that I don't like having them done late and hanging over my head the whole month of December. I review the list in early November, make enough for the list, and then some extra, just in case I receive some I wasn't expecting and feel the need to reciprocate. (note here - I don't always reciprocate every card, but sometimes I feel the need to)
Bake and freeze earlier.
I love to have Christmas treats around all season - to take with me, or serve for impromptu gatherings here. But the longer I put off the baking process, the less I'm inclined to bake and make at all. So if I want them (and my family really does) then I must plan ahead.
Take inventory and shop early for supplies.
Take stock early of all our paper goods, wrapping and packaging supplies, tags, tape, 3M hooks and then pick them all up before Thanksgiving. I used to wait to see what I needed and I've finally learned that just makes me miserable!!! I never have on hand what I need. My thinking was I only wanted to buy what I needed, not more, but it just never worked out. I now have a bin of all the excess that I pack away with all the christmas decor....cause paper goods don't go bad. They can carry over from year to year and I can always use them one way or another.
Lots of Lists
I'm a list maker. Has always worked for me. But especially at this time of year. I keep a running list of all that needs to be done so that I don't get overwhelmed, and also so I can plan each week accordingly. One of the my most important lists is my "gift list". I record them as I shop so that I won't forget I have them when its time to wrap (believe me, I can forget). My other important list is for all that I WANT to do....not just need to do. Like go for a car ride in our pjs after dinner one night to see the Christmas lights; and go to the train store more often (free entertainment for the boy); and have a Happy Birthday Jesus party with kids. These are the things that make the season special for us. Its not to say my December is ruled by lists, but they keep me sane!
Seriously don't hate me - this one is even hard for me, since I hardly have a steady exercise routine to begin with, but in the past few years, I've really noticed how the walks really help me maintain my mood and reduce stress during this season....for many reasons:
a - fresh air (my choice of exercise is walking)
b - I feel like I get time to myself, and that I'm doing something for myself
c - feel less guilty about the treats I'm eating because I'm getting my walking in. While I still try not to overindulge, its once a year and I want to enjoy with my family - not beat myself up all season long.
d - the exercise itself and all those endorphins - yadda yadda yadda.
Have a shopping date with my husband.
Most of my shopping is done early, but we still love to go out, look around, have a meal. Its actually more enjoyable because we aren't feeling the pressure of buying a whole lot. One of our very first dates was christmas shopping, so its very sentimental for us, and isn't this the season for schmaltz?
Have a wrapping date with my husband.
For a few years, I did all the wrapping...and I was miserable. My husband is actually better at wrapping, he enjoys it, and I feel like again, we're getting time to do something festive together during this season. Some Christmas music, an adult beverage, some wonderful conversation....its all good. DO NOT plan anything for day after Christmas.
I literally have to remind myself of this. When the season gets going and I get all caught up in the excitement, I don't want to forget how important this is to us., We just love the cozy, relaxed feeling of being able to stay home and in our pj's, watching the boy plan with all his new stuff, enjoying the peace and quiet after the rush, indulging in quality family time. The rest of the week before New Year's we'll have plenty of time to do all those "things" that need tending to, but we drag out the christmas day experience as long as possible...one day is just too short!
So there you have it - the Brasil Christmas Creed. I've left off a few items, but wanted you to get a flavor to start your Creed...or whatever you want to call it. Some other ideas:
- have a decorating plan. Know how long it truly takes, and make a plan for it.
- have a plan for your plans - like parties and invites and kids programs. Decide before the season how many in a week is good for you and your family.
- have food and menu plans. Rachael Ray pointed out this week on her show that its not just Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's that we feed extra people - its all season long. So have some recipes that you know are winners and can feed many and stock up on those ingredients. For me - I just need to stock up on general items so that I'm not constantly reaching for frozen pizza. Sounds odd but after baking all day, sometimes I don't want to cook a meal, you know?
Next week I'll share with you what's the point of it all.
I'm not trying to scare you by using the word "perfect"
or by having part 1 and part 2!
I am here to encourage you. Truly.
First and foremost - the "perfect" Christmas season
can only be defined by you and your family -
the ones you share you life with.
Don't pay any attention to what the world says....
or what the retailers are pushing.....
or what the Christmas cards depict.
What do YOU want? What do YOU value?
What about your spouse....your kids....
anyone you spend your time with during this season of joy
(yes people, this season is supposed to be joyful!!)
Think about it. Pray about it.
Now go make your list.
Really - put it down on paper.
Review it and determine if it is realistic.
Now - here comes the hard part...
STICK TO IT!!
I know, I know - its hard. But I tell you -
do it once and you'll feel the benefit.
Do it again next year it will become habit.
Do it again the following year and its now tradition.
I started my own list a few years ago
and now it is indeed tradition.
Its not another to do list, but an actual traditions list.
We list our goals,
make new year's resolutions,
create a 5 year plan -
but we won't put on paper what we want for
ourselves during the month of December?
Well - I'm giving you permission.
In fact, I'm urging you to do it.
And to help get you started.....I'll share with you my list.
I call it my Christmas Creed.
I start reading it each year in early November.
(oh who am I kidding - I start reading it as soon as my son's October birthday has passed - which is about the time that I also start playing Christmas music!!).
This list has evolved over time. Every year as I pack away the Christmas ornaments and decorations, I review the list one more time - figure out what worked, what didn't. What I can let go of .....what I want to move up the priority list.
I do it while the season is still fresh in my mind and I can make some really smart decisions.
I looked back through the blog to see if I've posted soccer before and saw that no, in fact, I did not.
With very good reason.
This is Thomas' 3rd year of soccer....and the first 2 years were tough. I mean T.O.U.G.H.
This kid is competitive....and a perfectionist....and he was young...
and 5 yrs old respectively
That combination did not bode well for him
Most Saturdays we left the field in a heap of tears...
and I don't mean "we" the boy....
I mean we the boy and his mama.
But this year he has really turned the corner. He's finally a team player!!
He is high fiving his teammates when they get a goal (rather than sobbing that he didn't get the goal).
He's passing the ball!
He is the first in line when shaking hands at the end of the game (rather than refusing as in past years).
When we first started out, I had asked a friend with 2 boys (older) what she thought, and she advised "keep bringing him, keep signing him up....at some point he'll get it". I remember thinking " I don't know how much longer I can keep doing this, or keep subjecting other children to this". But alas, she was right! He's finally got it!!!
I'm a stay at home mom. I am married to the love of my life Paulo, a kind, generous, Godly man. We have a miracle little boy Thomas. I love music, bible studies, walking on the beach, spending time with friends, photography, scrapbooking, crafting, and cooking...and have the means to enjoy all these passions. I...am...Blessed.