Fly on the Wall: Making Merry

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 5 bloggers are inviting you to catch a Fly on the Wall Postglimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.

Buzz around, see what you think, then click on these links for a peek into some other homes:

Baking In A Tornado

Never Ever Give Up Hope

Menopausal Mother  

Spatulas on Parade  

Here’s who you’ll be hearing from in my house:

  • Me, Mama O.
  • Daddy O.
  • Big Sister, age 10
  • Little Brother, age 8

Since I have been writing these blog posts since 2014, I have my own Fly Post Page.  Check it out if you want to hear more craziness from my house.

Around our House

Me (as I was cleaning for our kids’ joint birthday party): Maybe we should have people over more often. It really makes me clean our house.

Big Sister: I call 10 zero teen.

Little Brother (not wanting to do chores): What am I, your slave?!

During breakfast, Big Sister came up with this:

Get Happiness. It’s out there somewhere. It’s not in a store.

Profound, right?

As I was talking about plans and what I needed Daddy O. to do, he asked me to stop lecturing him. I replied, “I’m not lecturing. I’m talking in a loud voice….a stern, loud voice…oh wait…”

Where are my Kids?

It was a Saturday, and we were in the middle of a busy day.  I had just taken the kids grocery shopping and was now home unpacking groceries.  I started getting some things ready for lunch, but I noticed that I had no idea where the kids went.  Being the louder of the two adults in our house, I tend to call for my kids across the house.  I even stuck my head out the door and yelled their names. No answer.  Not. A. Peep.

I was getting kind of worried, so I decided to look for them, continuing to call their names.  I finally found them in the basement and made them come upstairs for lunch.

I explained to them, “When someone is yelling your name, you need to answer. I was getting worried that you ran off or something.  It’s not nice to make your mom worry.”

Very calmly, Little Brother chimed in, “Well, when I grow up and have kids, if I don’t like them, then I would just let them go.”

“What?!” I laughed…”You would just let your kids run away! That’s crazy.  I guess Daddy and I will be babysitting a lot, so you don’t lose your kids then.”

Making Merry

I had the chance to learn how to make my own wreath with my sister in law.  I loved getting crafty with her that morning.  We made really large wreaths with wire frames.  I was able to use boughs that we had cut down from our frasier fir tree that our kids named Timber. My sister in law used spruce that park rangers provided.

Here were the beautiful end results:

Wreath making 2019

The wreath I made had the burlap bow.  It was too big to fit on our mantel, so I moved our outdoor wreath indoors.

Christmas Quotes

During breakfast, Big Sister moved our countdown to Christmas calendar, and started singing, “There are 12 days till Christmas, and I don’t have a true love.”

I replied, “Well, your family can be your true love.”  Her answer, “Icky.”

I found some random handwritten notes from Little Brother in a box of scrap paper:

notes

Notes: never eat a gingerbread ornament

For the record, both kids have taken a bite out of old gingerbread ornaments.  I hope this note will serve as a reminder for them.

Another note said:

What is the saddest day for a child?

The day after Christmas.

The Spirit of Giving

This is the first year my kids had specific gift ideas for family members, so Daddy O. and I took separate shopping trips with each kid. I was so impressed with Little Brother as we bought gifts for a friend’s birthday, two kids in need from our schools, Daddy O. and Big Sister.

During our shopping, he said once, “Mom, this is on my Christmas list, ” but did not whine for it. He carefully helped me find gifts for each person on our list. We even took time to compare prices. He was so patient and well behaved. I was so proud!

After our trip, we rushed home and brought the gifts upstairs to wrap in his bedroom (just in case Daddy O. and Big Sister would be getting home before the gifts were wrapped).

Little Brother admitted, “I like wrapping gifts.”

Later Big Sister came home and had to sneak Little Brother’s gift upstairs for us to wrap.

“I can’t wait to see his face when he opens it,” she told me.

The spirit of giving was alive and well that day!

The next morning, Little Brother asked me if we could let Big Sister open her gift before Christmas. I told him that she can wait.

It’s so sweet to see these kids think of each other. They really love this time of year.  Little Brother even wore this one morning for breakfast.

Getting in the spirit Go Mama O.jpg

Why not wear a Santa hat to breakfast?

Wishing you all much merriment and cheer this time of year!

12 Days of Christmas – Sweet Memories

We took down our Christmas tree today.  I didn’t realize until today that it lasted all 12 days of Christmas.

Our real Fraser Fir was nick named Mr. FFR (fluffy, Fraser) by my kids, and yes, we name our trees.  It’s a thing…maybe just our thing? Anyway, Mr. FFR really lasted a long time.  Sure the needles were falling, but he really looked full and beautiful adorned with lights and ornaments until the very end.

Just look:

mr ffr 2018

Our tree in 2018

Every Christmas Tree Tells a Story

I couldn’t help but feel a little sentimental taking down the tree with so many stories behind the decorations on our tree year after year.  Our grandparents and parents gave us so many beautiful ornaments from little on, and some of them have become our daughter’s favorites. My dad handmade wooden sled ornaments years ago.  My mom made both the angel that tops our tree and the tree skirt at the bottom.

cat-by-christmas-tree

Big Sumo Kitty loves sitting on the tree skirt my mom made.

Ornaments remind me of places we’ve lived or traveled – two more recent ones from the Grand Canyon and South Dakota.

There’s ornaments from Germany and Austria to remember my high school foreign exchange program and my semester abroad in Vienna. There’s a hang gliding Santa that my best friend gave me because I went paragliding in Switzerland.

One plastic orb holds freeze dried flowers from my wedding bouquet.

Another high heel ornament reminds me of our favorite girls’ nights with my sister, cousin and aunt.

Each one of us have ornaments from the year we were born – mine and Daddy O’s looking a little more well-loved than our kids’ numerous baby ornaments.

This tree is our life as a family.  It’s adorned with a whole lot of love through many years.

And then there’s  the ornaments and gifts that our kids have made.  Each year more ornament crafts make their way from backpacks and onto our tree.  Today, I have to confess, that some of the ones in bad shape (sticker, foam type) went in the garbage! Many, however, are part of our annual holiday decor.

christmas crafts from kids go mama o

Most recent craft – top left: hand print trees, reindeer painting (2018, Little Brother), reindeer flower pot (2017 Big Sister), hand print tree (Little Brother), ribbon tree (2017 Big Sister).

While most of these projects were made at school, I remember Big Sister making the reindeer flower pot craft in our basement inside of a patio furniture box that transformed into a “workshop / fort” for our her.  She had glue, paint, pipe cleaners and the flower pots all assembled in her work station down there.  In the end, she gave me, Daddy O. and her brother each a reindeer flower pot.  They turned out adorable, and we were proud of her for putting so much effort into these gifts.

The hand prints are getting bigger through the years, and I can’t help but wonder when they’ll stop doing these hand print crafts.  At seven and nine, my kiddos are growing up for sure, but still firmly believe in the magic of Christmas.  Big Sister wrote a letter to Santa for our elf Fred to deliver to him. Elf on the Shelf proved to be an amazing way to motivate the kids to get out of bed in the month of December. It was really fun and very sweet.

Here was a new event that Big Sister created at grandma and grandpa’s house this year:

jingle bell sing along

Big Sister’s first concert for family

What will next year hold for our family? How much longer will these sweet traditions last?  I can’t predict for sure.

And while some traditions fade away (and I may will be a little sad), I hope we’ll find a way to make new family traditions. Until that day comes, I’m just going to soak up and savor all of the sweetness and joy that this parenting gig can hold.

This is what I found on the back of Little Brother’s hand print craft:

thank you for being my mama

A sweet note just for me

 

 

When does a House Feel like Home?

As I’ve mentioned before, we have moved within the last year. I even wrote about songs for house hunting back over summer. We found our now house last winter, but didn’t close and move until almost summertime. Since then, we have did our share of “breaking it in” and making it our own through painting, a lot of cleaning, hosting cook outs, a backyard camp-out, dinners, lunches, and birthday parties. With each event, we’ve had to look for that one thing that we only use occasionally (which box is that in, now?), and we’ve been able to figure out what works best in our new space.

Now with the  holidays quickly approaching, we have decorated our house and it truly feels like home. No other holiday holds so many memories of loved ones and special traditions than Christmas.

I’ve had the chance to re-arrange and play around with our existing holiday decor and find some new pieces for our new home. In our last home we didn’t have a fireplace or mantle, so I hung our stockings on a bookshelf or on the side of an entertainment center. In our new home, I am so happy to have our stockings hung up on the mantle. I took a recent selfie with my kids in front of the fireplace.

go-mama-o-selfie-and-christmas-stockings

Yay – all dressed in red and posing so cute in front of the fireplace.

It was really special putting up our tree and decorating it as a family. The kids helped put on the ornaments so quickly and only minor adjustments were needed. So many ornaments tell our families collective story, from baby 1st Christmas ornaments, to ornaments of our grandparents who live on in our hearts. The ornaments on the tree are so very personal – and so at home in our house. Our cat even approves and has assumed her usual place hanging out under the tree.

cat-by-christmas-tree

Good kitty!

As I mentioned in my post, A Time of Patience, we have enjoyed lighting the advent wreath during family dinners. With the first real snowfall, we even managed to light a fire. Once it was going, we hung out together, playing games and reading. It was peaceful and cozy – very homey.

christmas-decor-go-mama-o

Top – Our advent wreath centerpiece, enjoying Christmas lights on our tree, and our first fire in our fireplace. 

All of these decorations and moments that we have shared as a family as we prepare for Christmas and the coming of the New Year have solidified the feeling of being home. As the song says, “There’s no place like home for the holidays,” and I couldn’t agree more.

It’s good to be home.

 

A Time of Patience

I was reminded of my New Year’s Resolution over the weekend, when patience was the topic of Sunday’s homily at church. Back in January, I wrote about my mantra of “Less Hurry. Less Worry” and this passage (from a presentation I attended last year) is especially relevant for this time of year:

Life is a series of sprints and there’s a lot of rushing around. Downtime is a necessary time to re-charge to be able to bring energy to each “sprint” or challenge you may face.

We are all rushing and hurrying like crazy in preparation for the holidays. There is a lot of sprinting and stress that takes much of the joy away from this season. Similarly, I feel like there has been a lot of sprinting going on this week, re-grouping after being out of town for Thanksgiving and even just hitting the save button on this post SEVERAL times before having a bigger chunk of time to come back to it. It’s a whole lot of hurry, hurry, hurry. And all that hurrying can make me feel impatient!

Am I More Patient this Year?

Overall throughout the last year, I feel less hurried and at times more patient. However, I probably should ask my family if they would agree with that statement. I still can feel a tendency to over-multi-task instead of focusing on what’s most important at this one point in time. Being conscious of un-productive multi-tasking is the first step, right?

Some patience has been learned through schedule changes as of late. My husband has changed jobs and increased his commute, leaving me to fly solo with the kids in the morning. Instead of thinking he’s around to help (or not), I know it’s all me, so I have become more patient with my kids in the morning. Truthfully, we’ve also had several months of the school year under our belt, so they are also more adjusted to the weekly school routine too. Together we can help each other in the mornings.

The Waiting REALLY is the Hardest Part

As was mentioned in church on Sunday, patience is desperately needed this time of year. Our deacon showed pictures of holiday travel with LONG lines. Shopping on Black Friday or any holiday shopping can bring a LONG line. There’s a lot of waiting, and we all hate that, right?!

Today while waiting in line at a craft store, I was amused by a mom with two kids in front of me for a few reasons. First, I remember those days of shopping with a toddler and an infant all too well (see The BEST Line(s) to get out of a toy store). Now I am just the “older” mom whose kids are now in school (well, some of the time, anyway)! I sometimes share, “I know what you’re going through” lines of encouragement because I too remember those kind people who did the same to me a few years back. This conversation was just last year! Second, the older toddler was saying “bye, bye.”  When I observed her more closely, she was pointing at things and saying, “buy, buy!”  I laughed out loud and commented on this to her mom. Too funny, right? In this moment of waiting and being patient, I was able to engage with the party in front of me instead of being grumpy and sitting on my smartphone.

Ways to be more Patient to Make Waiting Easier

One phrase that comes up in this season of Advent is “waiting in joyful anticipation,” and I am reminded of the symbols and traditions that we use to help us wait – things like Advent calendars, Christmas Countdowns, or lighting candles on the Advent Wreath. This year we are lighting candles on a salt dough wreath that my daughter made in her religious education class. She feels so proud of it, and there is something very special about lighting a candle and enjoying a family dinner together. It makes us slow down a bit, and we look forward to lighting the next candle. Each day in December, we’ll change the Christmas countdown. Each week we’ll light another candle, helping us track the passage of time, which makes the waiting for Christmas a bit easier.

Is the season trying your patience? How do you handle waiting this time of year? Best wishes for some time to slow down, relax, and reflect this December!

Childproof Christmas Decor and Crafts

As I decorated this Christmas, I broke out the same Scrap Fabric Tree that is now 2 years old! It’s hard to believe it survived a few holidays and being in storage. These were some easy crafts to make with little kids.  Enjoy!

At 15 months old, my son is just at that age where we really need to watch him to make sure he doesn’t get into something he shouldn’t.  He really is quite good, but we had a few incidents with him pulling down our Christmas stockings (and holders) that were placed on a bookshelf, where he routinely will pull books off of the shelf to “read.” This led me to re-do some of our Christmas decorating to make it more childproof.  First and foremost, I moved the stockings up to higher ground.

Second, I created a kid-friendly tree out of felt. I probably spent less than $4 on several sheets of felt from Wal-mart.  I just made it up as I went along, gluing pieces of felt to a paper grocery bag (probably could have cut it closer to the tree’s branches), and cut up ornaments while practicing shapes with my 3 year old.

Childproof Felt Christmas Tree

Childproof Felt Christmas Tree – so easy to make & was fun for them to play with. (Though I was the one putting the ornaments back on constantly!)

I have been taking down some of our everyday pictures hanging on our walls, and replacing it with holiday decor. This was another project I did with my daughter, gluing scraps of fabric to scrapbook paper.  An avid quilting relative gave us these scraps, and Christmas time was the perfect inspiration for this project!

Scrap Fabric Tree picture

Scrap Fabric Tree picture – still hangs up 2 years later in our home!

Last, but not least, we ended up with a smaller Christmas tree than last year, so we had many more leftover ornaments that did not have a place on our tree this year.  I saw this pin and was inspired to display some of my own ornaments on our chandelier.

Chandelier decor with pretty ornaments

Chandelier decor with pretty ornaments

I also have made some of my own cardboard Christmas trees that are not nearly as beautiful as the ones on the link I provided.  They ARE, however, a lot of fun for my 3 year old, who uses them as pretend trumpets!  Here is another link to a Christmas tree project that I thought looked cool. The framed ornaments also looked like something worth trying, but I haven’t found the right materials yet.  If you have any childproof or child-friendly crafts, please share! Happy decorating & happy crafting!