It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. I truly believe that’s true. Christmas is the most magical and peaceful time of the whole year. Sometimes I think the whole year is one big build up for this amazing day.

My Christmas was wonderful, just as it should be.

Our Christmas starts on Christmas Eve. My little family of 4 spends the whole day together. This is the first “full/official” year that I’ve been completely moved out of the house, so we had to adjust some of our traditions but it was still special. I went over to my parents’ house around 11. When I got there, we hung around the living room together talking and just enjoying each others company. My family LOVES to play cards. We played a few rounds of a game my great grandfather invented along with a few games of 500.

We then sat around and started opening our presents. My family opens our presents from one another on Christmas Eve. I think it started because my younger sister and I were so impatient when we were little, our parents gave in but it has turned into our family tradition. Now that my sister and I are in our 20’s, opening gifts is more of a fun affair for all of us. We all choose fun gifts for one another that match our personalities. I was pretty proud with what I purchased for my family. I bought each of them a mug that matched their personalities but were also funny.

I found each of them a mug on Etsy. (I swear by Etsy. I buy 90% of all of my gifts there so I can find special gifts personalized to ever person in my life.)

My dad’s mug was from the shop, DreamteesUS, my mom’s from the shop NovemberandMae, and my sister’s from the shop inkyandindigo. I was seriously so proud of them (my family lives for lame jokes/puns)!

Once we had opened all of our gifts we played some more cards before we went to church. Once our service was over, we came back and had a plethora of appetizers for dinner that we snacked on while we watched our traditional Christmas Eve movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation! Such a classic! (My mom also made us some chocolate fondue for desert which is another normal tradition!)

Unlike most Christmas Eve’s, I ended up going back to my apartment to spend the night. This was very hard for my mom to accept but I wanted to sleep in my bed more than anything! (I also wanted to sleep in and my family does NOT sleep later than 6:00am, no joke.)

Christmas Day was amazing. I woke up and found that Santa came for my kitty Lucy. I promise I’m not a crazy cat lady, but she is my baby and Santa knew how great she is. We opened her catnip Christmas toys in her stocking and played with them for quite some time. I had a relaxing morning watching more Hallmark Christmas movies before heading back to my parents’ house for the day.

We spent a few hours together as a family and then headed to my grandpa’s house for the day. This is another major tradition, we ALWAYS spend Christmas day with my mom’s side (for as long as I can remember!) My mom’s side is very small. We have our family of 4 and then she has 1 brother who is married to my aunt and they have 2 girls, so also a family of 4. Once we were all at my grandpa’s we had 9 people there. I’ve always loved how small and intimate our family is. My grandma, and great grandma, were always there with us but they both passed away around 6 years ago, so now it’s just us.

We spent the first few hours just catching up and eating. I’m the oldest cousin, so the other 3 girls are all still in college. We’ve always been SUPER close but with college it’s very hard to see one another, this made catching up last longer than normal.

We have a tradition in my family that my grandparents’ started. All of us granddaughters and our parents each have our own specialized stocking our grandma had made when we were born. Our grandparents fill the stockings every year with our main Christmas gifts. It was always my grandma who orchestrated the stockings but since she passed, my grandpa has done great carrying on the tradition. We always start with the youngest opening hers and work up to the oldest (which is my dad.)

For the rest of us, a few years ago we decided it would be much easier (and more fun) to play the dice game for our presents. We have enough gifts in the middle for all 9 of us and play the traditional game (when you get doubles you pick a gift, then everyone opens theirs, followed by 2 minutes to steal if you role doubles again.) This has been one of my favorite traditions we have started! My whole family gets into it and I love it! (My dad is a very introverted person and usually “observes” games but with this game he gets so into it!)

We then spent the rest of the day playing games and enjoying each other’s company. My cousins, my sister, and I are very close (it helps that there’s only 4 of us). We are all sisters so anytime we get to spend together as we get older is a treat!

My family went back to my parents’ house for a few hours to spend more time together before I went home to watch the Grinch and go to bed.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are my favorite days in the entire year. I love being with my family and sticking with the traditions we’ve had since I was born. To this day, December 26th is always the saddest day of the entire year for me. I hate knowing I have to wait 364 days before Christmas Eve comes again.

I hope you all had a very merry Christmas!!

Blogmas – Day 12 AND Break – Day 1

I’m so sad it’s the end of blogmas and this is my last post. Thank you so much Abbey for these fun Christmas post ideas!!

Blogmas Day 12: Snow Thoughts

I love snow. Living in Minnesota, I think that’s a given. They don’t refer to us as MinneSNOWta for nothing. There is something so magical about the first snowfall of the year. For us, that could be as early as the end of September. Don’t worry, the snow doesn’t stay if it falls that early! We usually get our first official snow fall that stays at the end of November/beginning of December.

In my opinion, Christmas isn’t Christmas without snow. It is very rare that we don’t have some snow on the ground Christmas morning but it has happened a few times. Those have been the Christmases that didn’t feel right. It felt like something was missing.

I love seeing the snow on the trees and the sun reflect off of the snow crystals. It can be very beautiful.

I do get sick of snow around March/April/May. Usually, our biggest snow storms come in March and April. These are storms that dump feet of snow on us but then it’s melted within a week. At this point in the year, we are all sick of the snow, slush, and ice. We also want clear roads to drive on!

1st Day of Break:

I fell asleep last night by 7:30. I was SO tired! I was hoping to sleep in the morning but I woke up around 6:30. I refused to get up so I laid in bed until 8:30. I then lounged around all day watching Hallmark Christmas movies!! It’s not a true Christmas weekend without watching a marathon of Hallmark movies!

I had to run to the store to get groceries because my apartment was completely EMPTY but I made it as quick of a trip as I possible could! I also had to hit up the liquor store because my cupboard is empty and it is officially Christmas break after all.

When I got back I broke out the yoga mat and turned on my favorite yoga channel on Youtube, Yoga with Adrienne, and started a new 31 day challenge. She is AMAZING!! If you want to start doing yoga, check her out! It doesn’t matter what level you are at. She has videos for everyone and for anything! She also has a series of 30/31 day challenges that she posts every January to “kick off” the new year. I’ve been going back on her site and have been doing a new challenge every month since August. I haven’t been able to do any videos in about a month so it was SO NICE to be able to get back into it! Today I did a video that was centered around ease! It was so peaceful and relaxing. Just what I needed!!

Now I plan to watch the newest Hallmark Christmas movie premiering in about an hour while I open a new bottle of wine! It was a much needed relaxing day!

2 Days to Go…

I feel like this week is turning into a marathon. The past two days seemed like they were a whole week in themselves. In order to get myself in the mood to get me through the next few days (and my kids through the next few days without totally losing it) I have a handful of activities that keep them busy (and quiet) and is little work for me.

For the past 3 weeks, I’ve read a Christmas book a day. Some days we do something with it, some days we don’t. This week I decided I wasn’t going to start a new reading unit so I needed something to fill in my long hour and a half reading block each morning.

Monday we spent our whole morning making parent gifts so I could easily check that off the list and had one less day to plan. Yesterday I decided to read the book, Mooseltoe, by Margie Palatini.

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It’s such a cute book. I had to come up with some sort of lesson to do with it so I searched the trusted TPT store for something cheap and easy. I found a simple story features activity on Savvy Second Graders site that had them think of characters, the setting, and a problem and solution in the story. They then had to write me a 5 sentence summary on the book. This was the perfect review since we hit all of these topics over the past 4 months. SUPER easy and very little prep for me (and free)! 🙂 It kept them working and busy for most of the morning!

The rest of the day was spent reviewing for a math test and working on catching up on different projects and assignments. VERY calm and quiet work (which really helps get through this week!)

Today we spent our reading block reading another one of my favorite books, Christmas Trolls, by Jan Brett. I LOVE her books! My mom used to read them to my sister and me all the time growing up, so they hold a special place in my heart. I used this book to work on story features and comparing and contrasting with another one of her books we read last week, Trouble with Trolls.

Again, I searched TPT and found another FREE activity pack that relates with these two books! At All About Elementary’s store I downloaded a Jan Brett activity pack that had them compare and contrast these two different stories.

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They got a kick out of how the same character is in both books and has 2 different encounters with trolls. They worked hard. They were more chatty today but I knew it was coming.

Tomorrow we are going to have a Grinch themed day!! I found a readers theater version of the Grinch on Christy Hard’s TPT shop that we will do during reading time. We will then obviously have to watch the original Grinch movie to compare and contrast the movie to the play right!? I’m using this as a motivation tool for my kiddos to get through the next few days! We will also use the song to talk about similes and metaphors and draw our own version of a simile or metaphor in the song.

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Friday we’re watching a movie all morning to keep things as calm as possible and to help my sanity. They think they are working towards earning it but I will make them earn it if it’s the last thing I do!

ALMOST THERE!!!

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Blogmas – Day 11 Christmas Eve Traditions

This is going to be my favorite blogmas day by far!!

Christmas Eve is a HUGE day for my family and me. We’ve kept the same tradition for years now and I wouldn’t change a thing.

The day starts off with my mom, sister, and I going ice skating! (When I was younger, my dad would have to work Christmas Eve day so my mom tried her best to distract us in the morning.) After we go ice skating, we usually go to the local community center pool and sit in the hot tub to warm up. My mom LOVES hot tubs, so I think this was really her way to get some relaxation in during the crazy day! 🙂

We usually come home to have a small “snack” type lunch and make one last batch of Christmas cookies.

Around 3ish in the afternoon we open our family gifts. We’ve always opened these presents on Christmas Eve. (I’m pretty sure it’s because when we were younger we had 0 patience when it came to opening our presents and our parents couldn’t handle it anymore!) My family is small, just my mom, dad, sister, and me. We will go around and take turns opening our gifts. When this is done, we play a few rounds of different card games. My family LOVES cards so we usually will do this for a few hours.

Our traditional Christmas Eve dinner is a variety of different appetizers. My parents are not the best cooks in the world, so we just buy a bunch of appetizers from the grocery store and have a potluck type dinner. We also make it a “picnic” in the living room where we get to eat on the floor.

We end the night by watching Christmas Vacation all together. We all know the movie so well, we usually take turns quoting the movie as the night goes on.

Christmas Eve is BY FAR my favorite day of the entire year!! I LOVE being with my family all day and following our traditions that we’ve done for years.

Blogmas – Day 10 Stocking Fillers

Very short post but I am too tired to think of more…

My family does stockings every year! Santa still comes to my parent’s house to fill a stocking for my sister and me. A tradition in our house is that Santa usually gives us both a handful of socks with a bunch of candy. We also end up with a few different gift cards for different coffee shops and usually one for Target. There’s always a running joke in my family that we end up with the exact same chapstick and traveling hand sanitizer every year. (We’ve left these in our stockings every year for the past 8 Christmases.)

Stockings are a big thing for Santa in our house. He never really leaves my sister and I any gifts he only fills our stockings. My parents always thought they were special because they would give us what we wanted instead of Santa. 😉

A big tradition on my mom’s side is that my grandparents fill everyone in my family a stocking full of fun little gag gifts. Each of us has our own personalized stocking that they made for us when we were born. It’s always fun to see what little trinkets they fill them with every year. They love to travel, so throughout the year they will pick up little souvenirs to put in our annual Christmas stockings.

Blogmas – Day 9 Gloves or Mittens?

To be perfectly honest I never actually remember what a mitten is versus what a glove is. I know that yes, one has the fingers and the other one has a hand with a spot for your thumb, but I never know the correct term for each one.

I have SUPER dry hands in the winter so I have both mittens and gloves with me at all times.

I use them both for different reasons.

Like most people, I do like to have the option to use my phone outside even if I need to wear something on my hands. I like to always have a pair of tech touch gloves on me just in case. I don’t like to spend too much on gloves (partly because I tend to lose pairs at least 3 different times during the winter) so I usually stick with a cheap but practical and warm pair. I usually just get a pair of Target’s Women’s Knit Tech Gloves that they have for $9.99.  Who doesn’t love Target?

Living in Minnesota, there are some days it is so cold outside it’s dangerous to have any skin exposed. On these days I want to have a nice thick pair of mittens (especially during recess duty!) Last year, my mom purchased mittens for myself, my sister, and herself that were handmade out of woolen sweaters. They are the warmest mittens I have ever worn and I LOVE them! They keep my hands nice and toasty!

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Blogmas – Day 8 Gift Exchange

Ok so pretty short and sweet post here and lots of ways to take the topic of gift exchange at Christmas.

My immediate family is very small (only 4 of us) so we all get each other about 3ish gifts. My parents usually have more for my sister an I. For us, it’s more a time to bond together. A lot of our gifts are “gag gifts” so it’s a fun occasion.

A tradition my friends and I have is a secret Santa dice game gift exchange. We started it in high school. We each bring a gift that matches where we all are in our lives (this year I plan on buying coffee and wine for my gift because we’re all exhausted 23 year olds who like a good drink) and then we play the traditional dice game together. We’ve recently started to break out a few drinks along the way, so it gets a bit more exciting!

When I think of gift exchanging at Christmas I think more about wanting to make my friends and family feel loved rather than thinking about receiving gifts from them. I love picking out just the right thing for the special people in my life. I love using Etsy for this. I can spend hours searching for the perfect gift for just one person. I take pride in being able to find something meaningful and special for the ones I love.

Looking back, I feel like this was a very random post but I take the idea of gift exchange in many ways.

Blogmas – Day 6 Gingerbread Houses and Day 7 Homemade Presents

Once again, 2 days coming right up!

Day 6: Gingerbread Houses

My family has a big tradition when it comes to gingerbread houses (like we have a big tradition for almost anything Christmas related). Every year, my 2 cousins come over to my house and we make mini gingerbread houses using frosting, candy, and graham crackers. So technically, they’re not gingerbread but they’re our version of them. They’re also much easier to work with than making a large gingerbread house.

There are 4 of us who make them. My sister Lea, my cousins Haley and Lindsay, and myself. We each have our own personalities that don’t really change from year to year. My sister usually tries to make the biggest and most extravagant house she possibly can. My cousin Haley is usually more interested in eating the frosting and crackers than making a detailed house. Lindsay, the youngest and craziest, picks a celebrity and tries to recreate their face as her “house.” (It gets pretty creative! One year she tried to make Miley Cyrus and the next she tried to make Kim Kardashian!) Myself, I’m a very literal person, I usually try to make the most traditional gingerbread house I can. We started this tradition when I was in 5th or 6th grade and here I am now, 23, planning our 2018 date to get together to build our next set of houses.

 

Day 7: Homemade Christmas Presents

I am a HUGE fan of homemade presents. Being a teacher, I’ve had plenty of experience coming up with homemade gift ideas for parents. I’ve also created my own over the years in school. When I was in college, like most, I had no money. My go to present for my family was usually a framed picture. I guess that isn’t totally homemade but it was cheap and easy and very much personalized to each person in my family.

I’m also a fan of giving away boxes of cookies as gifts to neighbors and coworkers. I used to put together tins of cookies in high school for my friends so I didn’t have to buy a whole bunch of gifts for different groups of people. My family is big on making Christmas cookies so we would be able to make tins and tins full of them to share. It’s also a gift for me making them because I get to spend the time with my family (like the pictures below.) It’s a win win.

Finally, the last homemade gift I’m a huge fan of is making ornaments. I used to make an ornament every year in school to give to my parents and they still have them on our Christmas tree today. It’s very personalized and comes from the heart. I was also a gymnast in high school and every year a friend of mine would make the whole team an ornament to keep. I still have each and every one of mine on my own tree. It’s very cheap and easy to make and, again, comes from the heart!

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Blogmas Day 5: Christmas Music

As I said in my last post, I LOVE Christmas and everything about it. I got this love from my mom and grandma. If it were up to them, Christmas season would start September 1st and that is when our Christmas music season begins.

Like myself, my mom is an elementary school teacher. About a week before school starts (which is always the day after Labor Day here) students and families come to meet the teacher and see the classroom (open house). As a tradition, during this day, my mom has Christmas music playing in the background. On top of that, as of September 1st, she has Christmas CD’s playing in her car 24/7 until the New  Year.

To me, there is nothing more peaceful and happy than Christmas music. Ironically, last weekend, my mom and I went to an orchestra Christmas concert put on by the beautiful and talented Lorie Line. Her Christmas piano music is the symbol of happiness and peace that is Christmas.

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Blogmas: Days 1-4 of Christmas

I might be doing this a little out of the norm but I’ve been super slow to get on the bandwagon so I decided to make up the days I have missed all in one nice long post! Thanks to Abbey@ThreeCatsandaGirl for the amazing idea because I LOVE Christmas so much!!

Day 1: Christmas Lights

When I think of Christmas lights, I think of the beautiful Christmas tree all lit up. There is nothing more peaceful than sitting by the Christmas tree when it is all it up. I love the lights so much that my tree goes up November 1st every year. That way I get to enjoy the wonderful lights (and tree) for as long as I can!

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Day 2: Ugly Christmas Sweaters

I LOVE ugly Christmas sweaters!! Being a teacher, I have my fair share of sweaters I’ve collected over the last few years. As of now, I have about 7 sweaters that I wear the whole week leading up to Christmas. On top of ugly sweaters, my favorite Christmas attire I own and proudly wear is a candy cane dress! I love to wear my dress with one of my sweaters on top to double the Christmas cheer.

Day 3: Winter Must Haves

As a girl growing up in Minnesota winter must haves are more like October-beginning of May must haves. The weather can be very unpredictable from day to day that you need to be prepared for anything at any time. That being said, some major winter must haves would have to be:

  1. A LARGE and insulated jacket is a NEED when the temperature can be -5 degrees in the morning and maybe rise to 10 degrees by the afternoon.
  2. UGG boots. You’re not a Minnesota girl if you don’t own a pair to wear with almost anything in the winter. They keep your feet warm during all occasions.
  3. Regular boots to wear if you want to try to “dress up” at all or look somewhat put together. Wearing flats and sandals will NOT cut it.
  4. 10+ pairs of leggings. You cannot go out outside with bare legs 9 months of the year so leggings is an essential part of your wardrobe.
  5. SNOW!! When people think of Minnesota they think of a winter wonderland but that is not true. Our temperatures fluctuate so much that we could get snow in October but a week later it’s all gone. We don’t get a true snow storm that stays until January at the earliest. We usually get our most intense storms in March when Mother Nature doesn’t know what to do with us. There is nothing like a huge dump of fresh snow in the winter.

Day 4: Annual Ornaments

Every year, since my sister and I were very young, my mom would buy us an “ornament of the year.” It’s amazing to look back and see what I chose when I was 9 compared to when I was 13 and so forth. On top of that, every year I go to our local coffee shop and buy a coffee cup shaped ornament. They come out with a new one every year and I have one from every Christmas since they started the tradition.

The most important ornament tradition for my family though would be the Hallmark Barbie ornaments. Growing up, my grandma would buy my mom and my aunt the Barbie of the year ornament and that would always be their Christmas gift. I LOVED putting up our tree every year because my sister and I would put all of my mom’s Barbie ornaments on the bottom of the tree so we could play with them with our real Barbies. I loved it so much that I could not wait until I was an official adult to start my own collection. Unfortunately, my grandma passed away before that Christmas. My mom knew how much I was looking forward to being part of the family tradition that she walked in her mother’s footsteps and bought me my own Barbie ornament. Those are definitely my favorite and one of my favorite parts of Christmas.

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This is my absolute favorite time of the year and I plan to be much better at posting these wonderful and fun days of Christmas. Haha hopefully I can do better but realistically, I’ll probably get too busy and end up doing all of this again! 🙂