Our family tradition is new pajamas for the kids on Christmas Eve. Normally, we go matching because, hello, it makes the Christmas morning pictures cuter! But I’m switching it up this year.
The girls are still getting their PJs, but I’m wrapping them with a few other things to make a Christmas Eve box. In the box I put:
-a new Santa cup
So not only do the girls have new pajamas to wear, but they’ve got a special, sugar-filled breakfast to look forward to. My parents and brother come over to watch the girls open present on Christmas morning so we’ve got lots of breakfast food happening, but having something fun in their boxed makes it more special. I’m also going to add a children’s book about the Christmas story (the real one) and make sure we get that read before bedtime on Christmas Eve.
I also put together a box for Chris. After the kids go to bed, we spend the rest of the evening wrapping presents and getting them under the tree. Wrapping ahead of time is not our style. Plus, this year both girls are getting new bikes and I imagine someone will be putting those together late into the night. So I wrapped up a box of goodies for Chris too.
A movie to watch while we wrap and build, coffee to help him stay awake or to wake him up way too early Christmas morning, a new mug to enjoy it in, and chocolate donuts for breakfast. Nothing too fancy, but we don’t really get gifts for each other so this will be an unexpected surprise.
What else would you put in the kids’ boxes? We’re not home on Christmas Eve or I’d give them a movie too. Throw in a little popcorn or candy snack with some hot chocolate mix. My girls would probably even get excited for new toothbrushes. Not kidding.
Any ideas? What Christmas Eve traditions does your family have? What do you think about the spouse box? Who wouldn’t love that on Christmas Eve? I would want a back rub in my box. That’s it, really. Oh, and come chocolate-covered raisins. Heaven.
The holiday parties are in full swing (I’ve got two this week alone!) and just as things were starting to get busy, my favorite First Thursday girls and I got together for a little celebration of our own.
We had the usual: drinks, yummy food, and great conversations, but this time we threw in a little favorite things gift exchange to make the evening even better. Everyone was in charge of finding that one thing they love dearly and buying enough for everyone else. So I showed up at Melissa’s house with seven of my favorite lip balms (more on that later) and everyone else did the same.
I’m not going to lie, I was excited about this event all day. Even my students said I was acting nicer than normal. I just love hanging out with these girls, reconnecting after all these years and, all of the sudden, doing life together again. It’s sweeter the second time around, for sure.
We had so much fun, I’m telling everyone I know they should do this with their friends or family. Here’s how it worked:
It’s really simple: everyone invited brings enough of one gift for everyone else. Eat lots of yummy food and drink delicious drinks that make your belly warm and fuzzy. Then when bellies are full, it’s time to pass out the gifts!
Every girl got to pass out her gift and then talk about it (why it was her favorite, what was so great about it, etc.) as everyone else opened them. I loved here about everyone’s favorite things and why they loved them. And I think I picked up a couple new favorite things as well.
Jennifer brought Albanese gummie bears, specifically the red, blue, and white ones because those are her favorite flavors. Albanese Candy is an Indiana confectionery that makes the greatest gummie bears I’ve ever tasted. She said their factory is something right out of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and they deliver!
Jessi is the poster child for shopping local and she brought a sample pack of her favorite perfumes from an Indianapolis-based company, Ambre Blends. They create organic body products and I’m already a big fan of the solace essence.
Heather brought awesome packages of Rubbermaid. And you would not believe how excited we all got about them. It was embarrassing. Lids that actually go to something! Matching bowls! Thrilling.
Jessica’s favorite thing was the new Pampered Chef mini nylon serving spatula. Again, we all got a little too excited over this one. Oh, the scooping possibilities! Also, welcome to adulthood, let’s make brownies!
Amber’s favorite holiday is Christmas and so she brought beautiful snowflake ornaments for everyone. I’ve already got mine hanging on the tree and it looks smashing if I do say so myself.
Krissy brought a little grab-bag of favorites including Cinnamon Caramel Swirl Bath and Body Works candle, gum, Nivea A Kiss of Shimmer lip balm, and Ghirardelli chocolate squares. She had so many favorites she couldn’t decide, but I’m not complaining.
Melissa shared her favorite sandstone citrus scrub from Lush. The smell alone was worth the buy, so I can’t imagine what magic it’s going to do as an exfoliate.
And I brought my favorite of favorites. I have these in every purse, keep one in my desk at school, and in random cars, some that I don’t even own. C. O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Shine from Bath and Body Works. This stuff has just a enough mint to make your lips tingle, masks bad breath in a pinch, and has the perfect amount of shine. It’s the only thing I wear on my lips.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t get a lot of surprises for Christmas. I know what’s waiting for me under the tree, but this night of little gifts from my friends was perfect. It was exciting and fun to share the things we love with each other. And it doesn’t hurt that as I’m writing this, I’m snacking on gummie bears and enjoying a sweet smelling candle.
What’s also great about this idea is that you don’t have to wait for Christmas to do it. This is the busiest time of the year and sometimes you just can’t cram onemorething into your schedule. Do this on a girls’ night in the spring or host a summer BBQ with your favorite things. Maybe throw in a themed favorite things night: pick a color for the gifts, a room of the house (kitchen-related items, vanity-related items, office-related items, etc.), buy only local gifts, or focus on a specific culture (Italian! Spanish! French!).
What do you think? Have you done something like this before? Do you have any fun theme ideas?
(jeans: Old Navy, shirt: Forever 21, jacket: Kohls, boots: Old Navy, necklace: Forever 21)
(jeans: Old Navy, sweatshirt: Forever 21, vest: Old Navy, purse: TJ Maxx, Chuck Taylors: Kohls)
(leggings: Kohls, tunic: H & M, sweater: Old Navy, infinity scarf & necklace: Kohls, boots: Target)
(jeans: Old Navy, peplum top: Kohls, blazer: thrifted, wedges: Target)
Two more weeks until Christmas break! I’m not going to lie, getting dressed in anything but leggings as break approaches is hard to do. But I’m resolving to keep showering, brushing my teeth, and wearing real clothes. Like a champ. What are you resolving to do as Christmas gets closer?
Keeping with the dystopian young adult theme that is my life, I read Unwind by Neal Shusterman this fall.
This story is set in the post-America world after the Second World War. The war pitted the pro-life side against the pro-choice side and the results were shocking. To end the conflict, a resolution was reached that kept all life sacred until the age of thirteen. But once a child reaches the age of thirteen, the parents can decided to have him or her “unwound.” A process that removes all their body parts, skin, and organs and puts gives them to someone else. The child is not “technically” dead because all the parts go on living so there’s no guilt in it.
Children that are given for unwinding are normally juvenile delinquents, wards of the state, children that are a disappointment to their parents, or behavior problems in school.
It’s like a test-run for kids. If you behave, you’re safe. If you’re a problem, we can get rid of you. Obviously, this has led to a life of uncertainty and stress for most children. Their only hope is to make it to eighteen when it becomes illegal to be unwound.
Unwind focuses on three teens: a runaway whose parents signed the unwind orders, a ward-of-the-state hiding from her certain death, and a tithe (a child whose parents take the belief of giving one-tenth back to God to the extreme) who is slowly learning everything he was taught is wrong.
Shusterman is a popular and well-loved YA author, but this is the first of his books I’ve read. It was suspenseful and just twisted enough to keep the reader guessing. Fans of dystopian literature will not be disappointed. This is a series (the second book is UnWholly and the final book is UnSouled), but I haven’t read them yet.
What do you think? Have you read this one yet? Are you burnt out on dystopian YA yet?
DISCLOSURE: AFFILIATE LINKS USED.
I’m don’t think it’s healthy to love pictures as much as I love these. Kaitlyn Meeks gets such real and candid shots of our family, it’s such a good representation of who we are at this moment.
We got the required formal family photo goodness out of the way and then the shoot turned toward more day-in-the-life. The girls play-fighting (why do kids like to do that so much? It always ends badly.), our dog Blue got in on the action, and then we ended with just me and Chris sitting on the couch. Where you will find us most nights after the madness of the day and the absolute chaos of putting little kids to bed is done. I’ll be reading a book under a blanket with the dog asleep on my legs and Chris will be watching the game (any game). It’s quiet and calm and love.
The pictures that Kaitlyn take of our family are one of the first things I would grab if I had to leave our home and never return. I can replace the books, the clothes, the toys. But these pictures are who we are, who we were, and who we want to be on the not-so-great days.
Thanks for taking our pictures, Kaitlyn.
Truth: every December rolls around and I’m not as prepared as I planned to be. All year we put a little money back for Christmas shopping, but then it’s never as much as I want it to be and I always wish we were better about putting away money in our Santa account at the bank. Anyone else feel me on that one?
So, in the spirit of Christmas and blessing others, some of my favorite people (who just happen to be bloggers) have come together to spread a little cheer. Because whether you need a little extra to cover presents this year or you want to help another family in need, a little extra spending money around the holidays is never a bad thing.
Good luck, friends!
The Lily Field // Life on a Mission // Trusty Chucks // Mercy Ink // Teressa Jane
Waiting with Joy // Unfading Grace // Sweet Home Santa Barbara // Heather Boersma // See You There
a Rafflecopter giveaway
open to U.S. / Canada residents ONLY // giveaway dates: December 2nd – 8th, 2013 //
winner will be notified no later than Tuesday, December 10th and will have 72 hours
to claim prize – failure to do so will result in forfeiture and a new winner will be chosen //
TWO winners will receive $100 Visa gift cards // this giveaway is NOT sponsored by VISA //
best of luck!
After I finished the third and final book to the Divergent series, I decided I wasn’t going to write about it. I wasn’t going to tell you to read it. I just couldn’t talk about it.
But now it’s been a few weeks and I think I’m ready.
I think you should read Divergent and Insurgent (my reviews are here and here). Those two are amazing. And you should read Allegiant also, but just be prepared to be so upset at the ending. Gah, even now I wish I could go back and change it. It didn’t have to end that way, I have other ideas!
These books, even with the way Allegiant ended, have become my favorite dystopian series. I connected with the characters and the struggle. I dreamed about what would happen when Tris and Four were finally free, I imagined them just being together and happy and safe. I realize that sounds completely ridiculous and these were just characters in a made-up book.
I acknowledge that argument, but I do not accept it. These characters were real. Their stories were real. And the ending was brutal.
Read this series if you haven’t already. The Divergent movie opens in March and I’m trying not to get excited but failing miserably. I might have watched the trailer with my students in class, on the big projector screen. We might already be discussing how we feel about the cast and how true to our imaginations they are. We might already be planning a class date to the movies like we did for Ender’s Game.
Books are powerful. Even if just for a moment.
DISCLOSURE: AFFILIATE LINKS USED.
This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and People StyleWatch and InStyle magazines but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #PeopleInStyle http://cmp.ly/3/8vNxcO
One of my favorite things to do as the weather turns cold is curl up in bed with a stack of magazines and spend the evening reading. There’s just something about cold weather that makes getting out of bed and into the world a little more difficult.
But when I do have to get out there, it’s nice to have a little style inspiration and those magazines come in pretty handy in that department. Ones like People StyleWatch and InStyle are overflowing with outfit ideas for the fashionable and fashion-challenged. (I am, depending on the day, one or the other.)
And with the holidays approaching, it’s nice to have some go-to outfits inspired by my favorite magazines to wear.
The holidays are synonymous with traveling and there’s no reason to fall into the yoga-pants trap thinking they’re the only comfy option. Taking a cue from InStyle magazine, I threw on some skinnies, a tee, some flats, and a structured jacket. Take the jacket off for long flights or trips in the car, and throw it back on when you’ve reached your destination. You’ll come out looking pulled together and polished.
The holidays are also the time everyone’s back in town so a night out is definitely on the agenda. Keeping with the tee and structured jacket, I changed into worn jeans and red heels for drinks with the girls. People StyleWatch helped make this transition effortless.
And my favorite part of the holidays: parties! Go with a traditional red dress for the office party or New Years, People StyleWatch has some great ideas on what kind of dress to wear for your body type. There’s something in there for everyone which keeps me inspired when I’m feeling less than stellar about my closet.
The best part of this whole using-magazines-for-fashion-inspiration is that right now, if you buy both People StyleWatch and InStyle magazines at Target, you’ll get a $5 gift card in return. It’s like getting one of the magazines for free! Or, if you think like me, it’s like getting an extra discount on that new shirt you just have to have. (Promotion ends 12/7.)
What do you think? Any travel or holiday fashion tips?
This weekend we had the talented Kaitlyn Meeks take our annual family photos. She’s our go-to woman for all things camera related and if you’re local to Indy, she should be your go-to as well. (She’s also really good at Photoshopping, check out 2011 and 2012 family pictures and watch me shrink!)
I love that we get to document the growth and changes in our family every fall. These pictures have become such a treasure and the girls love standing in our hallway looking at years’ past and talking about them. This year’s will be no different, I’m sure.
Another reason we wait to do family pictures every fall is so we can use them for our yearly Christmas cards. I love when the holidays roll around and we start getting friend’s and family’s cards in the mail. It feels so special that someone took the time to send us holiday wishes and I love being able to do it too.
This year we used Pikcal for our prints and I can’t wait to see how they turn out. I was shocked with their selection and had to narrow it down to my top ten and then ask for help from Chris. Which is saying something, because I never ask for help.
Here are five of my favorites:
(ignore the publishing lines and purple border, those went away when I hit “order”)
Once our cards arrive, I’ll show you what we picked! Until then, you should get your cards (calendars, notebooks, and photo books, too) ordered. Plus, they always have FREE shipping and they’re offering a 20% off code just for being a Trusty Chucks’ reader. So, really, there’s no reason not to order your cards from them right now. Use BLOGCARD20 when you check out.
Tell me: what card do you think we should have picked? what cards are you ordering?
DISCLOSURE: This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are mine.
As a stickler for only celebrating one holiday at a time (insert evil eye directed at everyone on Instagram), I’m really looking forward to Thanksgiving this week.
But I would be lying if I didn’t mention that our calendar is already starting to fill up with all the fun Christmas-related activities that we love. One of those activities is Celebration Crossing at the Indiana State Museum. This season-long exhibit has a little Christmas magic for everyone, no matter your age. Kids will love visiting Santa, the winter wonderland, and riding on the Santa Claus Express. Adults will get a kick out of the recreated L.S. Ayres store windows, seeing the museum decked out in its holiday best, and grabbing a bite at the L.S. Ayres Tea Room. Introducing those old school traditions to your younger family members is something that shouldn’t be missed.
On Friday, Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive by helicopter to the museum (the reindeer are resting up for their big night, obviously) and that starts the month-long Celebration Crossing event. If you’re thinking about going (and you should be, by the way), here’s some of the events the museum is planning that you shouldn’t miss:
Santa’s Holiday Breakfast/Brunch presented by Macy’s
During the first, second and fourth weekends in December, guests will get to start their mornings off with delicious holiday breakfast as Mrs. Claus, Raggedy Ann and other holiday characters entertain the young ones before they visit Santa Claus and ride the Santa Claus Express. On Sunday, Dec. 15, adults and kids alike will join in the fun during this holiday brunch featuring traditional brunch dishes and festive holiday mimosas. Brunch also includes a visit with Santa and access to the rest of the Celebration Crossing activities.(reservations required for both events)
Throughout the month of December, guests will be treated to Santa’s (Imagination) playground in the Earl Goode Education Center on level 2. In addition to the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-based activity area, there will also be crafts and a place for caregivers to sit and relax while their children play.
Hoosier Radio Hour: A 1940′s Christmas
During the first, second, fourth and fifth weekends, guests will get to join the Indiana State Museum Legacy Theater Troupe as they celebrate the holidays with “Hoosier Radio Hour: A 1940’s Christmas.” Original skits and familiar carols are part of this heart-warming production, suitable for all ages. Audience members will be invited to join the fun onstage as members of the sound effects staff.
Family New Year’s Eve
End the year with a bang with a family-friendly, alcohol-free celebration in the Governor Frank O’Bannon Great Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 31 from 6 to 9 p.m. Activities include face-painting, arts and craft, games, door prizes and a special musical performance by Indianapolis band The Tides. A balloon drop at 8 p.m. allows little ones to celebrate the New Year in style. (reservations recommended)
To make reservations or for more information, visit the Indiana State Museum website or call 317.232.1637. Be sure to make the Indiana State Museum part of your holiday tradition.