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One of the things that makes me most excited about having my own family is the ability to create or play out some of my childhood holiday fantasies. Some are ones that I dreamed in my head and some are ones I saw played out in other friend’s homes over the holidays.

I know the holidays can be depressing for those of us who came from less than idyllic childhoods. But you don’t have to be stuck in your past. You can create your present and future childhood traditions. That is what I like to do and its surprisingly easy. There is no Family Tradition patrol who is going to come over to your house and call you out. Just decide what your tradition is going to be and POOF—you have a family tradition!

If you are blessed to have little ones it is especially easy because they pretty much believe everything you say. (I just love that!) So, when they ask, “What is this Mom?” All you have to do is say, “This is a Christmas tradition in our home.” Who knew it was so easy to make your dreams and fantasies come true?

As Christians we celebrate CHRISTmas. No Happy Holidays here, sorry. I’ve been through too much political correctness with my blended family to last me a lifetime and now I’m (finally) embracing CHRISTmas with my husband and children.

Inspired by one of our favorite people, The Sneaker Teacher, or Kiki as our boys used to call her, I am officially announcing our Advent House tradition effective December 1, 2009. If you don’t have one, feel free to make ours your own. We purchased the above Advent House several years ago from Pottery Barn Kids and I’m embarrassed to say have never used it, until now!

Here is what I’ve included in some of our windows and doors:

- Read T’was the night before Christmas

- Read Rudolph the Red nose reindeer

- Watch an animated Christmas movie together for Family Movie night

- Play a board game together

- Roast marshmallows together

- Go shopping together for others & donate the toys to charity

- Decorate our Christmas tree

- Take a family portrait

-Invite friends to join us at the Church Christmas party

- Make ornaments for the tree

- Set up the nativity set

- Decorate the yard with Christmas lights together

- Watch an animated video about the birth of Jesus

- Family Game night—everyone picks a game!

- Make cookies together

- (Candy Canes)

- Make S’mores

- Buy or make a birthday cake for Jesus

Do you have any ideas for other activities I can add to our Advent House?

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Everyone has a gift…

Black Friday is something I’ve never participated in.
I’m not sure why.
Maybe it was because I was too broke to buy anything.
Maybe it was because I couldn’t find child care.
Maybe it was because I used to own a store and had to work.
Maybe it was because Al Gore invented the internet and I could shop online.
I’m not sure.
At various times in my life I’ve had various reasons.

Today, I was not going to shop.
But then my friend sent me a text that I had to go to Michael’s to get the Cricut machine.
So after leisurely getting a Starbucks and dropping the baby off at home I decided to go.
Amazingly I found parking and there was no riot going on.
Things were looking up.
I even managed to find a cart!

What I didn’t know was which Cricut was on sale.
There were three different ones and not a sale paper in sight.
So, I did what any unseasoned Black Friday Shopper would do.
I stuck them all in my cart.
I’ll work it out at the register I thought.
And then they spotted me.
Three ladies with an eagle eye on the contents of my cart.
Oh no, I thought.
Here it comes.
I am going to have to duke it out over a Cricut.

“Don’t get that here! Its on sale for less at Walmart!” screamed one.

“Yes, I have the paper right here” said the other as she pulled out her well read bundle of sale ads.

“Um, Thanks” I said, “But do you think they’ll have any left? I mean doesn’t Walmart open at like 4am or something?”

“Well, we were just there and no one really knew what they were so I’m sure you can still get it there.” Said the third.

“Oh Wow, thanks” I said.
Totally not intending to even go to Walmart.

But did the ladies let me be?
Did they just continue on with their shopping and forget about the non sale items in my cart?
Oh no.
They made me take it out of my cart.

Seriously, I’m not even kidding.

But since I was already in Michael’s I did what any person lacking the thrift gene would do.
I shopped.
I bought all kinds of garbage I didn’t need and that wasn’t on sale.
On Black Friday the biggest sale day of the year, I purchased non sale items.
In my admittedly weak defense, I did get 3 cricut cartridges (for the Cricut I didn’t have) at 60% off !

I know.
I suck.
Some of you ladies can go to the grocery store and leave with the store owing you money.
Or you can feed your family of 15 for $7 a month.
I’m in awe of you.
But can I tell you that I want you to keep your stories of your amazing talent to yourself?
I don’t want to hear about it anymore.
Because every time I try to save money, I end up spending a lot more to do it.
For me to save money, I need to just stay home and stay off the computer.

As I drove to Walmart, I wondered what my amazing talent was.
I mean everyone has one, don’t they?
And clearly, thrifty shopping wasn’t one of mine.
I’ll admit I was getting myself into a funk over my lack of the thrift gene.

After I purchased my Cricut for $65 off (thank-you very much) at Walmart I received another call from my obviously thrifty and experienced Black Friday Shopping friend.

“You have to come to Playmobil right now. For the next 30 minutes you can get 35% off your purchases!”
And then a smile broke out on my face.
It suddenly hit me what my amazing talent was.

My talent is spending a lot of money in an surprisingly short amount of time.
I can get a lot of shopping done in the smallest amount of time.
I get in and I get out.
Quickly and efficiently, if a little expensively at times.
Playmobil didn’t know what hit them!

Hey, everyone has a talent.
Hopefully Big Daddy will learn to appreciate mine.

Happy Shopping!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

Christmas Change

live the gospel
Edited & Updated

I first read about Christmas Change on Lora Lynn’s blog, Vita familiae, when she posted about her (gorgeous) naked Christmas Tree. To be fair, the concept itself isn’t really new, although I like it very much. How many of us have said, “The excess is just too much! This isn’t really what Christmas is about” and then gone on and done the same old thing as you did last year? I’ve been there. I’m so proud of Lora Lynn for risking arrest (read her blog to see what I’m talking about) and making a big bare statement in her home this holiday season.

Last year I posted about Rethinking Christmas, also known as the Advent Conspiracy. I reflected on our past Christmas and what I was going to do differently (last year). We did make changes. But in reflecting on it this year I have to admit that I don’t think what we did was enough. Sure my kids got less presents and were equally happy—-but, so what?

I like the concept of analyzing everything about your holiday traditions and breaking it down to these truths:

Does it point to Christ?
Is it necessary?
Could we spend less in order to give more?
And finally,
Does it teach a healthy truth or perpetuate a lie?

This is what I’m reflecting on this week as I make plans for celebrating Christmas with our precious children. I think it’s more important than planning out a Black Friday Shopping spree or stressing myself out on the perfect gift, tree, present etc.

What are you reflecting on? Are you making any significant changes in your planning or thinking? I’d love to hear about them.

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My Turkey

Just wanted to share a picture of my turkey in the oven this year.

By my calculations I’ve cooked 15 turkeys in my lifetime.
I only make turkey once a year, on Thanksgiving day.
I’m so brainwashed into only eating it for Thanksgiving.

Anyway, I had a good time breaking in all of our new kitchen appliances for our Thanksgiving feast. Big Daddy said that he forgot how good I can cook. I guess that was a (not so) subtle hint that I need to get back in the kitchen and start cooking on a regular basis.

What do you think?

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What I am thankful for

I am thankful for…

A husband who is a Christian and who is teaching our children the most important lesson of all, how to serve others.

Four incredible children who are truly a blessing from God.

A church family I can depend on, grow with and learn from.

Warm Florida sunshine

A roof over my head and food to eat.

Those that serve in the US Military and their precious families.

Our dear friends getting their girl and throwing themselves into making sure others do too. If you or anyone you know needs financial assistance in order to adopt, please send them to Help Us Adopt. If you can spare even $5 please consider donating to the cause to help another family adopt.

Happy Thanksgiving!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.