Wednesday, December 11, 2013

No words Wednesday


I don't typically participate, 
but with these recent photos, how could I not??

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How to have the "perfect" Christmas seson - Part 2

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, 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!

More exercise. 
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 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. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How to have the "perfect" Christmas season - Part 1

don't run away.

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...
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.

Tune in next week to part 2 - 
when I'll be sharing my creed with you. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Soccer Star

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...

4yrs old

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 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!!!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Mission completed!

the Mission 
An out of this world 
Star Wars Theme birthday party 
for the boy's 6th birthday!

the Invitation:

The Refreshments:

the Favors:

the Cake: 
No - I did not make this.  
C'mon people - I know my limits 

the Crew:

Now those lightsabers -  
those I did make

the Entertainment
 Yes - my husband did build the screen. 
C'mon people - you know how over the top he goes!! 

the BIG Surprise

 the Results?
one VERY Happy Boy!!!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Guess who came to visit??

The tooth fairy!!!
 Thomas lost his first tooth!!!

 That's my little tooth pillow from childhood.  
So grateful my mom saved it & gave it 
to us actually.
One shiny silver dollar! 

One very proud little boy!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Collecting a room

I recently read a quote from interior designer Suzanne Kasler "A room should feel collected, not decorated".

While I have the ability to put together a cozy room, and take beautiful pictures....I do not have the ability to form coherent thoughts on most days.  And certainly not the ability to put into words what's going on in my mind.  Suzanne summed up exactly how I've approached putting together our home.  A mix of old and new, shabby and chic.

Most recently in the office/den/guest we've been working on?  Our recent changes I wrote about here
Well - since its big overhaul in the spring, I feIt like the room still needed some love, some it wouldn't feel like the ugly step child.  Most of all, I wanted it to become a room I actually wanted to spend time in.

So I started culling through our stuff in storage.  And came upon this nugget - 
An old wooden box that was built to hold record albums.  Now it is storing all those big jar candles inside, and is the perfect landing spot for all the library books I bring home each week...with the intention of reading but don't always get to. The box is originally from my grandparent's house...a piece of their history and mine.  

And I pulled out this....
The baby quilt from Thomas' crib.  The $90 Pottery Barn Kids-over the top-"it is so perfect"-extravagance I just had to have, but of course was drastically underutilized.

While I was searching for something for the blank wall in the office, I thought of this quilt.  Because I still love it, and all that represents to our family - our miracle boy's first bed - the nursery in our home - the fulfillment of our dream.  It came to mind when a friend gave me these clips that she was done using in her home
And now we've now hung the quilt in the office/den.  And it makes me smile every time I glance at it.
I threw in some new too, like my pouf!!  
I've been wanting one of these for a while, since they became popular, but man, they can be expensive.  So I held out and waited (which was very hard to do), until I finally found one - the right one - on sale and I had a coupon!!  What I love most about this piece is the softness it brings to the room - both with its shape (round in a room of all straight lines and sharp corners) and the cozy faux fur material.

And just one more newbie - a throw pillow.  This room's sad little futon was already crying out "save me" because I kept giving it the outcast throw pillows while I prettied up all the other seating in the house with new pillows.  So when I saw this baby (that just so happens to match the wall quilt beautifully thank you very much), I snatched it up for just $7.79 from Kohl's - on sale, with 40% off coupons and a $5 off.  Score!  (I'm so getting the hang of this Kohl's game)
There you have it - more updates in the office/den.  I'm finally calling it done!   I feel like a have an extra room in the house now because we actually spend time in there now.....I actually enjoy being in this room.

So - here are my tips:

1) Re-Purpose and Re-Imagine: Capitalize on original investment (the quilt), or take advantage of something free (the clips).  And don't just limit items to their original purpose - bedding on the wall rather than just the bed, a record album box as a table, a wooden crate as a desk organizer, mason jars as pen holders, on and on.  Visitors in our home often comment on the unique items all around - re-purposing is one key to achieve "uniqueness".

2) Balance: this room has so many hard lines (desk, bookcases, file cabinet, wooden futon frame), it really needed something soft.  I was looking for art, but when I considered more frames of photos or art, it was just more hard lines and hard materials - glass, wood, metal.  This adds a nice softness to the room...not to mention a big pop of color to punch up the  main colors of the room - tan, white, brown, black and blue.  Art doesn't have to match - its an accent.

3) Wait for it: literally....wait for it.  The right thing.  Don't settle just to fill in. Its okay to do that with some items - a photo in an inexpensive frame or a piece borrowed from another room (or storage).  But don't buy the first thing you see if its not the color, size, fit, price you really want.  This has been the hardest lesson for me....but its proven itself time and again.  Case in point - when I first started looking at poufs, they were $70+....which just wasn't what I wanted to pay for that specific piece.  In the end, I got ours for $12!!  And because I stayed on budget with that item, that left more money in the budget for all the other accessories I wanted. 

4) Appealing to emotion: When I look at this quilt, I am transported back in time, in my memory and in my heart, to its place in our home - on the first little bed of our miracle baby.  If you can look at something in your home and really connect with it - not just in your intellectual mind, but in your heart....deep in your soul....then you know its perfect.

So there you have it - some interior design insight from me.  I'm not an expert....but I love my home, and that's what I want for anyone.

"Your home should be a hug when you enter it"

I hope I've inspired you to try something new to make your home a hug for you! 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Kindergarten kick off!

We've officially kicked off kindergarten here at home - I mean school - I mean home-school. 

Wasn't I just swaddling him, laying him in the bassinet?

Was it last month when I was holding his hands as he took his first steps?

Or last week when he uttered those first words we'd longed to hear?

And now here he is - officially a kindergartner...whether at home or in a red brick building.

When we chose home school, we chose a life style. Because homeschooling is a whole lot of togetherness.  And that's why we chose it.  We weren't ready to let him go out into the world. I know, I know - its reality.  They have to go out into the world sometime.  Yes, they do.  And once they do, they will be out in the world for a long long time....and there's no turning back.

We believe that the longer you love them and hold them and help them build up their sense of self and where they come from, then they are that much more ready to go out into that world...when it is time.

We have many reasons as to why home school works for us....these are just a few:

I enjoy teaching him and watching him learn.
Because...I enjoy being hands on with him.
Because...I enjoy experiencing the world with him.
Because...there is a lot of foundational learning we want to focus on with him right now, like Jesus, and the Word; character and principles.  OUR principles...not the world's.
Because...I am fully capable of teaching him the academics he needs at this point.
Because...we are all home during the day - together - and it works for us.