the busiest year of my life.

2017 has been crazy!!!!!! Our family has been blessed with a lot of great new changes in such a short amount of time. It's funny how some years can be so mundane and others can be a never-ending time of events, parties, and life in general. 

Here are some highlights so far of what 2017 has been like for us:

  • January- Nick accepted a new call to be assistant pastor at Redemption PCA (Presbyterian Church in America)
  • February- My sister Michelle got engaged to her boyfriend Joseph
  • March- I gave birth to our third son, Leo. My baby sister Bianca got engaged to her boyfriend John
  • April- My sister Janna gave birth early to my identical nephews Conor and Ronan

Events to come in 2017:

  • July- Engagement Party for Michelle and Bianca. Leo will be baptized at our church
  • September- Calvin turns 5 and Michelle's Bridal Shower
  • November- Nick turns 30. Max turns 3. Nick and I celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary
  • December- Michelle gets married.

Add a whole bunch of birthdays from both sides of our family and basically you can imagine what our family calendar looks like for this year. I am thankful for companies like Paperless Post that can help make some of these exciting events in our life more easy and fun.  With a newborn and two other boys to take care of I am always on the lookout for ways that make my life easier. Paperless Post has been great because I can make invitations for parties super easy and creatively. They have options for basically any life event you can imagine and the quality of artwork is extraordinary, especially the huge selection of designer line invitations . I love how all I need is peoples email address and then I can email them an invitation that looks just like a physical one. 

Whether you have a birthday party, bridal shower, dinner party or game night that you are hosting, consider using Paperless Post and wow your guests. Invitations make parties that much more official and the fact that I can do all of my party planning on my phone, invitations included makes spending time with loved ones for special occasions that much more easier. 

 

Here are are some examples below!  

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 Bianca's ring. 

Bianca's ring. 

 Michelle's ring. 

Michelle's ring. 

christmas traditions.

I wrote HERE about some holiday traditions I do or want to do with my family last year. Recently, I have seen that there can be a lot of pressure to uphold these traditions and I attribute a lot of it to comparing myself to what others are doing. In my attempts to make sure my kids have the best holiday experience I can easily lose hold of the entire reason why a tradition is special and memorable. With our third baby boy on the way I am learning that traditions, especially Christmas ones need to be flexible. Each year brings new challenges and in order to keep sanity you just need to go with the flow rather than stress about every little detail. 

Each year I pin all of these beautiful ways to decorate Christmas gifts and each year I make myself feel bad that I ended up using some random wrapping paper and bows from our wrapping drawer. I let the pressure of the season get in the way of the whole meaning behind the gift I am giving. I am seeing now that the traditions I have in my head may be fun for me but they might not be ideal for my whole family. So keeping my family in mind this year we are keeping it simple and yet still trying to keep up with the fun traditions we all enjoy. 

I write to encourage you that some years you might have a newborn, some years you might have gone through a death, and some years are just busy. Uphold and keep the traditions that bring your family together.

Some things we did for Christmas traditions this year:

  1. Decorate the tree and put Christmas lights outside the day before Thanksgiving 
  2. Visit our local train museum for a Christmas festival
  3. Christmas PJ's (I ordered $8 red striped fire truck jammies from Old Navy and called them Christmas ones)
  4. Make Christmas cookies with my mom, sisters, and kids (Nick is our taste tester)
  5. Drive around town with the kids in our comfy clothes looking for Christmas lights
  6. Made boxes for Operation Christmas Child
  7. Read from our advent book and eat our advent calendar chocolates each night
  8. Send out Christmas cards

This may seem like a lot but all of the traditions we did above were things the whole family got involved with and enjoyed. Our pictures are not all Instagram-worthy and our tree is missing a new ornament each day (thank you Max) but our kids are learning more and more about the true meaning of Christmas every year. Calvin has learned that Advent is a season of waiting and anticipation. They are slowly understanding that because of the birth of Christ we have forgiveness of sins are made right before God. 

We are also starting a new tradition of having only immediate family over on Christmas Eve and keeping it super low key (Christmas pajamas, wine, food, games, etc.) and then on Christmas Day we are inviting people over for some Christmas fun. Our little family continues to grow so even a small simple night has been seeming to get bigger and bigger. My sisters and I each help out with a task so that the load for my mom is less of a burden and we can all enjoy just spending time together.

*Nick preached a great sermon on Advent HERE

*Why we don't do Santa HERE

I would love to hear of some ways you keep Christmas traditions meaningful, yet simple. A tradition is only special when it brings joy, not stress.

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the importance of the dinner table.

When 4:30 PM rolls around our house can get a little chaotic. The boys and I are spending our last minutes outside playing with rocks and bikes so that I can go in to make dinner. Nick gets home around 4:45 PM and I like to have the house somewhat put together so that he is not bombarded with a house that resembles something like Toys-R-Us. Nick will usually try to get a workout in a few times a week while I finish up dinner and the days he doesn't workout he will entertain the boys for me before we eat.

With all that can be going on between 4:30-5:30 PM, the most important thing to us is that we all end up at the table together. Eating at the dinner table is not always glamorous. Nick and I are always moving about: getting up to get another fork, picking up a spilled sippy cup, or getting another plate of food for the kids. But through all of this we are all together. In the middle of the voices and distractions of all four of us is a tradition and family memory being created each day. We try to always do family devotions and say a prayer at dinner time (and no it does not always happen). We all try to get a summary of how each other's day was, but that does not always happen. But it's at the table where we all get to love on one another without devices or toys or any distractions in our way. 

As a kid growing up with a single mother and two sisters we were always busy. And despite the fact that our lives were always going full throttle my mom always made it a big deal to end the day at the table together, sharing a meal. Since it was so habitual and enjoyable to me growing up I wanted the same to be had and shared with my own family. 

My boys are routine kids just like me. So you can count on it that everyday at around 5/5:30 PM Max is pulling on his high chair to come eat dinner. Calvin is always excited to ask Nick "So how's your day, Dad?" and we get to enjoy this special time together. My meals are not Pinterest worthy and sometimes there is a lot of commotion and all of us talking at one time but we love this time.

I want to encourage you to make dinner or breakfast or lunch into a special time for your family. I know a lot of you have different work and family schedules, but I promise you that making family time around the table a priority is not something you will ever regret. Your kids will love the time spent together with you, no matter how short or long it may be.

As the kids grow older and their ability to converse grows stronger, the bond that you have will only grow sweeter. To this day when my sisters, mom, Nick, and the boys are all eating together around the table we are always filled with love and gratitude (and food!).

The dinner table might just look like a table, but around it are often the best memories.

Does your family have a time of day that you spend together around the table? Do your kids look forward to meal time together? What is your favorite dinner or drink to enjoy with your family?

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 Trying to get dinner finished before all my boys come back from their walk.

Trying to get dinner finished before all my boys come back from their walk.

 Max   always  ends up pants-less after dinner time. He is a very messy eater.    

Max  always ends up pants-less after dinner time. He is a very messy eater. 

 

 My other dinner table that does get used but only when there is more than just the 4 of us. 

My other dinner table that does get used but only when there is more than just the 4 of us.