Un-decking the Halls

Does taking down Christmas decorations leave you blue?  I can’t help but feel that way as a “un-deck” the halls at our house. We had a lovely, busy, and festive holiday season full of multiple family gatherings, delicious food – and some tasty leftovers, and many wonderful toys.  Now as I take everything down, I can’t get motivated to cram the last few things into the big green storage bin in our basement.  Instead it sits on my husband’s already cluttered tool bench (though I’m not getting any complaints there).

Growing up our artificial tree would be up for what seemed like MONTHS after Christmas!  My mom once dreamed it was March and the tree was still up.  I think she too struggled with putting everything away – something I may have inherited from her! We also had Christmas lights permanently mounted to the main window indoors.  All you had to do was flip a switch and cha-ching – instant holiday year-round!

Is putting everything away part of the realization that we’re just going back into our typical, non-festive routine – a long stretch of hibernating during winter and cold without any EXCITING holidays for some time?  Shouldn’t I still be feeling the hope and excitement of a New Year?  Sigh…I don’t know.

Little by little, everything will find its place, from the Christmas decorations to the newly received toys that are overflowing from toy bins as we speak. I will get re-organized and re-energized at some point.

I already found a few inspiring places for motivation and kid’s organization:

Small Potatoes

Merriment

Attempting Aloha

For today, I’ll hang out with my 3 year old, who is boycotting nap time. How is “un-decking the halls” going for you?

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The Joy of Giving and Feigning Joy of Receiving

Did you ever get a Christmas gift that you didn’t really want? We have all been there, right?

In my case, I am honest to a fault when I react to my husband’s gifts. I don’t know why…maybe I just can’t fake enthisiasm with him. I feel badly, and I already did it TWICE this holiday.

Let me begin by saying I am not overly into receiving gifts. I enjoy giving presents much more. Above everything else, I value the time and experience with loved ones over the holidays. For example, after exchanging some family presents tonight, my 3 year old spontaneously hugged me and said, “Thank you!” It was so heartfelt and beautiful – just magical! One other gift is seeing my 15 month old walk on his own with much more confidence and purpose. Adorable. And I am one proud mama.

Okay, so I gave my husband two ideas – a list of Aveda makeup lipgloss and eye shadow, and biking gear that would be cuter than the workout gear I have been wearing for several years! I opened the lipgloss- perfect. Thank you Daddy O. I opened the eye shadow, and it wasn’t the shade I remembered, so I told Daddy O that I may go back to look at other colors. Maybe it was mis-labeled? My internal dialogue is saying, “Stop talking and deal with this later when he may not know.”

The second gift I opened tonight – padded biking shorts covered by looser fitting black shorts. I said, “thank you,” and should have stopped there, but I couldn’t. “Are these women’s? Oh yeah the tag says women’s. Maybe I need to try them on.” I tried them on later after the kiddos were in bed, and they still look rather mannish and not the cute, flattering option I had envisioned. Functional, yes. Sigh.. so sorry Daddy O for being horrible at receiving gifts from you. I love you no matter what I find under the tree, as long as I am admiring the tree with you.

How do you react when you have concerns about the gifts you receive? What is your favorite gift / memory?

Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed and joyful Christmas.

Wisconsin Winter Wonderland

Hooray – we’ll have a white Christmas!  We took some time today to enjoy the white stuff, as we Wisconsinites or Sconnies have to do. Even though I do get sick of snow by the end of the season, the first snow still excites me, and I admire the beauty of it sticking to the trees. So pretty, right?

My daughter is loving her snow suit, gladly posing for this picture.  Then with a close up and BIG SMILE! The joy in her cannot be contained, so she closes her eyes! So adorable.

My son, on the other hand, was not so excited to play in the snow.  We tried pulling him around in the sled (both me and my daughter), but he wasn’t a fan. We’ll have to try again another day.

When we look up to the sky this is what we see. I love it!  I used some of the snow pictures to make my new header too, playing around with the various effects.  Enjoy the winter wonderland!  It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas here with more snow on the way.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

I really love Christmas music.  It reminds me of singing in the choir at church or being in the Christmas play.  My favorite songs include Silent Night, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, and Snoopy Christmas!

Do You Hear What I Hear? is a song we’ve heard a lot of as of late and it seemed so appropriate the other night when my son woke up crying, or the other night when my daughter woke up screaming, “Mommy, mommy, mommy.”

Anytime either of my children make a sound in the middle of the night, I am jolted out of sleep.  I could easily say to my husband, “Do you hear what I hear?” And I wouldn’t hear anything back from him.  He is a deep sleeper, and it takes A LOT to rouse him out of bed.

What is it about being a mom that makes our ears so sensitive? Or are our ears just attuned to our children’s cries? Are men just different as dads? Other moms / parents, do you hear what I hear too?  Here’s to a peaceful, Silent Night in our home and yours too.

For a related blog post, I remembered reading this one from Anka at Keeping it Real – check it out!

Guys and Dolls

Squinting to see the Light

Our Christmas Tree with white lights 2012

Our Christmas Tree 2012

When I put the lights on our Christmas tree every year, I like to use what I call the “squint test.”  This means that I step back from the tree and squint my eyes once the lights are on to see if there are many points of white light to make our tree shiny and beautiful.

In the wake of yesterday’s shooting massacre, I find myself squinting to see the light again during this holiday season.  My heart aches with prayers for heaven’s newest angels, for their loved ones left behind, for all parents, and for everyone searching for answers in such a violent year full of too many tragedies.  Is it possible to squint real hard to see the light and have some hope?

Life is precious and delicate – a concept put beautifully by Little Miss Wordy in her post yesterday.   I had some rough parenting moments with my 3 year old yesterday, but I quickly got over it when I heard the news.  I feel so blessed as I hugged my children extra hard last night.

In reading friend’s posts on Facebook, everyone expressed their sorrow, pain, fear, sympathy, and love. It’s a scary world out there, and every day is so precious.  I thought this quote from Mr. Rogers helps us look for the light –

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things on the news, my mother would say, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

Praying for extra helpers to shine love & light….

– Cathy (Mama O.)