Christmas card displays

I love Christmas cards.  Who doesn’t!?  They make the happiest mail.  Seeing so many pictures of people I love always puts a smile on my face.  So much so that I never take my cards down right after Christmas.  They usually linger until at least February or March.  
I used to tape all of our cards on and around the pantry door in our kitchen.
 Then last year I painted an old frame aqua and used it to display some of my cards.  

I started taping the rest of my cards to the wall next to the frame, but I was having a hard time getting them to stick on the wall so I never got all of them hung and I had to take them down early.  I was so bummed!

So this year I was prepared!  I bought painters tape (a suggestion from a few sweet readers!) and went to work.  I hung some of my cards on the wall and woke up the next morning to this —

 SO disappointing!  Kole and I just shook our heads.
I guess painters tape wasn’t the solution.  At least not for my crazy wall.  
I didn’t have many options left.  
So I taped my cards to the front door.  And good old scotch tape did the trick!  Not one card has fallen.  When I ran out of room on the door I started taping them to the wall next to the door and those are staying put too.  I’m not sure why.  But I’m not going to question it.  Kole and I just smile and call it a Christmas miracle.   

The last two years I have hung our past Christmas cards on our stair banister, but this year when I started hanging the garland, my two year old sidekick had other plans.  Pulling everything down was just too much fun for my little buddy so once again I was forced to mix things up.  Flexibility has become my middle name ever since a certain someone arrived on the scene.  :)  
 So our past holiday cards found a new home in my beloved aqua frame.  

And they were reindeer approved.   

 I’m thinking my door of cards will stay put for a while.  
I’m kind of loving it!  
At least until February or March.  
Or maybe as long as the tape holds.  
Or until a certain two year old sidekick (and his creative partners in crime) decide on something different.
What would I do without their help?

Christmas decor 2012

Popping in to say hello and share some pics of our Christmas decor this year.  I starting working on this post on Christmas Eve while Kenny, Kole and my dad were all taking Christmas Eve naps.  :)  But then the girls and I turned on It’s a Wonderful Life and the house smelled so good (combination of my candle and my mom’s cooking) that I was forced to close my computer and savor the day.  And now I’m posting Christmas decor pics after Christmas.  But I can live with that.  Hope you can too.  :)
I didn’t have a lot of time to be creative this month so my Christmas decor is very similar to last years.   
Stockings were hung on my hutch again.  Safely out of my little buddy’s reach.  :)

  I just tossed up white pitchers and some greenery – things I had on hand.  
I also added some of my glass bottles and jugs.   

The only new purchase was this fun little reindeer I found for a steal at Home Goods.  
I think he is simply charming and the two of us have become fast friends.  

Love seeing my kiddos’ stockings all lined up.  
The girls left the sweetest little notes in each of them for Santa and Mrs. Claus.  :)
Last year I decided to try out a more winter-y look with my mantel and stuck with a silver and aqua theme.  But I didn’t love the greenery with the blue and I felt like it was missing something.  RED.  
So this year I switched things around a bit and added a red wreath.  I found this wreath at Michaels for 4 bucks!  It adds the perfect pop of red I was looking for.  I love inexpensive wreaths like this because then I don’t feel guilty buying a new one each year.  It’s so fun to mix things up!  

After I hung my wreath I asked Kenny if it would look better with a red ribbon holding it up instead of a silver ribbon and without even looking up from his laptop he answered “that’s out of my skill set.”  
My babe.  What would I do without him.  

I tossed a few red, aqua and silver ornaments in my apothecary jars.

And added a little bling to reindeer #2 I picked up at Home Goods.  Because I was having too much fun with the reindeer on my hutch to stop there.

I think he looks regal.
He is so happy in his new home.

I had a few leftover ornaments so I tossed them in mason jars and added them to a few random spots around the house.  
Same winter-y frames from last year.  (Scrapbook paper project here.)
And I hung the same silver/aqua ornaments from our dining room light fixture.  

 (decor from 2010)
You’ll notice I had things on the floor and on low counters and tables.  
A sure sign of the “pre-Kole era” as we like to call it.  :)
This year tables stayed wiped clean.  I also swapped out my Merry Christmas quote for my red bird.  
Because change is a good thing.  
And then I called it a day and my 2012 Christmas decor was complete!  
Oh!  Except for my pantry door holding all of our past pics on Santa’s lap.  So fun to see how much my babies have grown each year.  This year there was hardly room on Santa’s lap!  
But I will keep taking them to sit on Santa’s lap.  
As long as I possibly can.  

Thanksgiving re-cap

Love my mom’s house and yard this time of year.  
Such a beautiful neighborhood.  

The kids were lots of help with the leaves.  Such a novelty for them.  Palm trees tend to stay in tact in our neck of the woods.  :)

My mom breaking the bread for stuffing in her pj’s on the phone.  Comfy multi tasking at its best.  

This table was taken over by the kids for coloring and crafts.  

Family bonding time.  We always end up chatting in the backyard while the kids play.  

They were outside all day long.  
Except for when they were inside on the computer.  Kole’s latest obsession – ABC Train on YouTube.  If you have a toddler, google it and enjoy four minutes of peace.  
You’re welcome.  :)
Enjoying time with Kenny’s fam.  This pic was taken while everyone was talking to his little brother on the computer who is serving in the military out of the country right now.  He was missed.   

Time for an Oreo turkey craft!  

These little suckers are harder to make than you’d think!      
Not Pinterest worthy, but El’s turned out better than mine did.  
Fun to make and even more fun to eat.   

My girls with Kenny’s sweet grandma.  Love this picture. 
My nephew in the leaves.  Also love this picture.  
And I especially love these pictures:

A great game of chase never gets old.  At least for a certain two year old.  I have to admit – it was nice sitting this round out for a change.  :)

A Thanksgiving Performance

Hello friends!  Slow week on the blog.  Like so many of you we are preparing for Thanksgiving and spending time with family.  Plus I got a nasty cold last weekend that has forced me to actually go to bed at night instead of staying up until 2 a.m. blogging.  My late night blogging habit and lack of sleep in general is probably the reason for my nasty cold.  Not that it’s going to stop me from blogging.  Merely a minor set back.  :)  But I need to get feeling better by Thursday!  I can’t be sick on Thanksgiving!  This time of year is the best.  My mom and I are laying the bread out to dry tonight so that we can make my grandma’s stuffing.  My mom always assigns me simple tasks to help with Thanksgiving dinner – break the bread, peel the potatoes, set the table, come up with a craft to keep the kids entertained…  she clearly knows my limits in the kitchen.  :)  My family was all joking tonight that next year we are having Thanksgiving at the new house and breaking in my new kitchen.  I said “NOOOOO!  I would love to have you all come and we can ohh and ahh at the new appliances, but we can’t actually use them!  We will call Claim Jumper and I’ll treat everyone to a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner – Erin style.”   ;)

 Last week my toothless pilgrim put on quite a show for our school’s annual 1st grade Thanksgiving performance.  Ad was one of the few kids who had a speaking part and we practiced religiously all week to get it right.  She ended the show with “We hope you all have a groovy Thanksgiving!”  She was brilliant and will no doubt be making her debut in Hollywood or on Broadway.  It’s really just a matter of time.

I went to her classroom after and the two of us enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast together.  

Then we watched a slide show where the kids had all drawn a picture on the computer and shared what they are thankful for this year.  Addie’s was so precious.  Clearly she has mad artistic skills as well because our family has never looked better.  I especially love Kenny’s pink pants.  Super hot.

Watching the slide show reminded me of just two years ago when I was at Ellie’s 1st grade performance.  It also reminded me of what she was thankful for:

I accepted my “mother of the year” award shortly after her picture debut.    
Pilgrim #1 with mom two years ago.  
I can’t believe how fast my kids are growing up on me.  Ellie’s 1st grade performance feels like last week.  
 These two were so little two years ago.  Just look at all of those chubby cheeks!

Addison and her darling teacher who we both love.  She and I have become instant friends and Addison adores her.  We are so grateful for both of my girls’ teachers this year.  Good teachers make a world of difference.

Addison was anxious to change out of her pilgrim hat and put her headband back on.  She was supposed to wear all black to the performance but really wanted to wear her silver sparkle skirt.  I tried to convince her to wear black pants and to lose the big flower headband but she wasn’t having it.
I said –

“Ad – I don’t think pilgrims wore stuff like that and you are supposed to look like a pilgrim.”  

“Mom – the only reason they didn’t is because they didn’t have a choice.  If pilgrims had a silver sparkle skirt they would have chosen it over black pants too.”  

How am I supposed to argue with that logic?  So I didn’t.  I replied “sliver sparkle skirt it is!”  And she was one stylish little pilgrim.

I took countless pictures of her so that I wouldn’t forget our fun morning together.

 Until I started getting poses like this.  
That’s when I know picture taking time is over.  :)

And now we are ready for the big day!  Our house is decked in Thanksgiving decor (along with the beginnings of my Christmas decor) which makes it official.  Time to bring on the turkey!  We have so much to be grateful for this year.

If you are traveling, be safe.  I’ll be popping in tomorrow with a fun giveaway, but until then happy Thanksgiving week everyone!  

Gratitude Journal

Gratitude has been on my mind a lot lately.  Aside from the fact that it’s November and almost Thanksgiving (a natural time to think about gratitude) I’ve also been thinking a lot about gratitude because a few weeks ago I read this quote and can’t seem to stop thinking about it:
I know this is true.  I know that happiness doesn’t come from buying the next thing or by moving on to the next stage in life.  I know that to be happy we need to live in the moment and be grateful for what we have right in front of us.  We need to be grateful for how our life looks right now in its present state (regardless of whether or not it is how we thought our life would look).  But how do we do that?  That is what has been on my mind a lot this month.  How do we recognize and appreciate all of the wonderful things in our life on a daily basis?  Life can be so busy and sometimes stressful and just overwhelming. I have been feeling that a lot lately.  Busy, stressed, overwhelmed.  How can we make gratitude a part of our every day lives?  I was talking to Kenny about this a week ago on Saturday and was suggesting some things I want to do in our home to help us focus on all of the positive things in our lives.  Then on Sunday I went to church and was asked to speak the following week… on gratitude.  It gave me chills!  Although I have to say that maybe I’ll think twice next time before pondering topics like this.  Speaking in church was NOT the outcome I was looking for!  :)  But I did speak in church – today – on gratitude.  And I was nervous.  But I was more nervous for Kenny because he had to manage all three kids while I was sitting in the front of the room with the other speakers and he definitely had his hands full.   Let’s just say that Kole didn’t do him any favors.  :)
I don’t want to bore you with all of the details of my talk, but I thought I’d just mention three things I spoke about – the three ways that I think we can make gratitude a part of our daily lives.  
Find Joy in the Little Things
Accept that God is in Control and Trust Him
Love and Serve Others
When I was talking about finding joy in the little things I mentioned a time in my life when I was really unhappy.  About a year after Kenny and I were married we moved to Virginia for him to attend Law School.  The first few weeks were so fun – being in a new city, decorating our little apartment.  I was all ready for a new adventure!  But soon the “newness” and excitement wore off.  I was always working – teaching school, tutoring students after school, and working several nights a week at a clothing store at the mall.  Kenny was always studying.  We hadn’t made many friends, we had no money, and I was terribly homesick.  It was the first time I had ever been away from my family and friends and all I could think about was how much I missed my life in Utah and how miserable I was.  I had a bit of the “poor me” syndrome and I didn’t like it.  So I decided to start a gratitude journal.  I had read about it in the book Simple Abundance.  I started writing down five simple joys from each day – a funny e-mail from my sister that made me smile, the beautiful trees on my commute to work, and some days – harder days – I wrote that I was grateful that the day was over.  That was ok.  Real life isn’t perfect and wonderful all the time.  In the beginning I was just looking for the good in my life so that I would have five things to write down, but before long I was looking for the good in my life period.  An inner shift was happening.  Taking time each day to reflect on the simple, every day joys and the abundance in my life (instead of what my life was lacking) made me realize how wonderful my life really was.  My situation didn’t change – the way I looked at it did.  Now I look back on those three years in Virginia with such good memories.  My time there helped me become a better person and my gratitude journal I kept while we were there is so special to me.  It is such a neat glimpse into my life during that time and it truly taught me how to find joy in the little things.  
I want my girls to experience the same thing that I did.  I want them to feel the happiness that comes from focusing on the positive things in their lives.  We celebrate the every day joys already, but it’s different when you have to write them down.  All of the good in your life becomes even more apparent.  
So I bought some inexpensive notebooks from Target.  These are my girls’ new gratitude journals.  (I added a label with their names on them after I took this picture.)  Every night after they read stories with dad they are going to write down what they are grateful for from that day.  They can write down three things or one thing – it doesn’t matter.  I just want them to end the night thinking about how blessed they are.  
I also bought this book to read to them to introduce the gratitude journals.  It’s called Thanks for Thanksgiving and is such a darling book.  I love children’s literature.  I could spend all day in the children’s section of Barnes and Noble!  This is a perfect book for this time of year and also a perfect book to introduce gratitude journals because it just lists simple things to be thankful for…

Isn’t it fun!?  I love the simple rhymes and the beautiful illustrations.  A great book to add to our holiday collection.  
Because I need to practice what I preach when my kids are involved, here are five things I’m grateful for today:
1- I’m grateful that my church talk is over.  :)
2 – I’m grateful for a fun phone call with my mom.  She is the queen of gratitude and positive thinking and sets such a great example for me.  
3 – I’m grateful that the dinner I made tonight didn’t blow up or taste awful.  It was a newish recipe for me so the fact that it turned out ok is rare and in need of celebrating.  
4 – I’m grateful for all of our Veterans.  
5 – I’m grateful that our weather is finally cooling off.  The heater clicked on for the first time last night and it smelled like Christmas!  Plus I finally get to start wearing all of my boots.  Oh happy day.  :)  
Kids are out of school tomorrow for Veterans Day.  Here is our agenda:
– Meeting with our builder to establish where all of the air conditioner/heater vents will go (exciting stuff).
– Help El finish up her school turkey project
– 45 minutes at the gym (my girls love the kids club)
– Begin Christmas decorating (I just can’t wait one more minute!)
– Potluck at the park with friends 
Not bad!  I’m also grateful for a fun/low key schedule.  :)
I ended my talk today with my favorite quote on gratitude.  I shared this quote last year around Thanksgiving but thought I’d share it again.  I never get tired of hearing this and feel like I always need the reminder.  Maybe some of you will enjoy it too.  Have a great Monday!