How to Say Goodbye to the Grumpy Grinch

561BBC38-DA16-43AE-AD46-5CA443034405

Christmas is a time for holiday cheer, giving, and all around good spirit. However not every Christmas feels this way. It might be because we’re just going through the motions year after year. Or maybe life isn’t feeling very good right now so it’s hard to be in a cheery Christmas mood.

As the holidays were approaching, I certainly wasn’t feeling warm, fuzzy things. I thought, “Can we just get this over with?” I didn’t like that I felt that way, but there it was. I’ll be honest. My husband and I have been going through a lot of loss and grief. So being told it’s a happy time of year wasn’t jiving with how I felt.

051B79D7-DB03-48FF-B2B5-B974FF3BBEC6

I couldn’t be the only one who felt the way I did. I got the idea to start making a list of ways I might be able to bring some joy to others. Doing something (even small) could help bring a good feeling to someone’s heart. And in the process I just might enjoy the holiday I was hoping would be over quickly.

Here are some of the things I came up with:

•Pay for someone’s coffee in the drive-thru ☕️

Optional: Leave an encouraging note for the barista to give them.

•Bring cookies and a card to elderly friends/family members 🎄

•Give out cookies and chat with people in an assisted living or nursing home 🍪

•Pack a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child or another organization that does something special for those in need 📦

Note: you can pack a shoebox virtually online if the time has passed to drop them at an OCC location

•Plan some fun Christmas activities with the kiddos in your life ❄️

I’m a nanny for 3 children, so I have some fun activities and baking for us to do together on their winter break

•Plan a fun outing with your spouse, good friend, or a family member so you can make a holiday memory together 💚❤️

Some ideas might be ice skating, a Christmas train ride, a special show or play

•Bring goodies to a neighbor 🍭

Maybe pick a neighbor you haven’t had a chance to meet

•Try to go a more sentimental route for some of your gifts 🎁

Buying gifts can be stressful and hard on your wallet (which makes it more stressful). But if you know a gift is going to mean something special to someone, it’s a little more exciting.

•Invite someone over for hot cocoa and a movie 🎥

This time of year we will usually hear “Christ is the reason for the season!”

But the meaning behind that saying doesn’t always sink in. There’s a lot of people dealing with grief, loss, and sadness right now. I think its time I put more thought into how I can show others the love Christ has shown us, instead of grumbling about my To Do list.

Merry Christmas! May you find some joy this holiday season. Hugs ❤️

.

Advertisements

Christmas Gift Ideas for Everyone

SnoopyBellRinger_MerryChristm_

Every year when the holidays roll around I get this mixed feeling of joy and fear. The fear comes from the realization I have to start racking my brain for 100 different Christmas gifts. Slight exaggeration but you get it. You’re faced with the task of coming up with a gift for each and every person that meets all these requirements:

*thoughtful
*unique
*inexpensive
*something they don’t already have
*not cheesy
*decent quality
*something they would use
*is cute/cool

That’s a lot of pressure.

I’ve done plenty of searches online for gift help. So to help my fellow gift searchers, I’ve put together some ideas I’ve used successfully.

MARRIED COUPLES/PARENTS:

  • Date Nights
    -get a variety of gift cards they can use for date nights
    ie: coffee, movies, ice cream, restaurants
    IMG_7791
  • Tickets to an Event
    ie: play, comedy show, concert, musical
  • A weekend or Night Away
    ie: bed & breakfast, a nearby town/city with fun activities, spa
    IMG_7798

*As an added bonus if you gift someone a special night or weekend away, you can also offer to watch their kid (s) or dog sit

  • Matching Pajamas and Mugs
    -you can find a lot of cute Mr. & Mrs. items
    IMG_7792
  • Get Local
    -if you live in a different state than the gift receiver, put together a variety of products specially made in your state.
    IMG_7793
  • Hobby Accessories
    -Are they really into something right now? Camping/RVing, hiking, house projects, etc.
    My in-laws bought a camper and they take full advantage of it in the warm months. So we put together some things we thought would come in handy for that.
    ie: a personalized bag to store things in, scented fire starters, and a shark steam mop (there’s a lot of foot traffic in their camper).

SINGLES/COLLEGE STUDENTS:

  • Subscription to Hulu
    IMG_7795
  • Crockpot (include some good recipes)
  • Funny t-shirt, Mug, and/or Movie
    IMG_7794
  • Wine, Beer, Whiskey (as long as they’re 21)
    -I have a brother in college and one thing I’ve learned is that he and his friends appreciate a good local beer or whiskey. Any gifts that go along with that are usually a hit also.
  • Gift cards
    -This might seem like the easy way out. But when you’re on your own, gift cards are like gold! If you’re not sure what type of gift cards they’d like, ask for a list of 4 or 5 to pick from.
  • Just ask
    -Maybe they’re trying to cook more and would love some new measuring cups and spoons. Maybe they’re trying to save up for a trip and would love to just take the money and put it towards that. No harm in asking!

LADIES IN YOUR LIFE:

  • Pedicure
    IMG_7796
  • Facial or Massage
    -a morning or afternoon at a spa getting pampered?! That’s a great day
    *My favorite place is Brookside Gardens located in Berthoud, CO. If you don’t know of a good place, ask around!
  • Tickets to a Fun Event
    -ie: concert, play, dinner theater, etc
    *If you choose to get someone tickets to an event, make sure you find out if they’re available that night.
    IMG_7801
  • Favorite Things ♥
    -I started making a list of things I’ve come to love in the past year. If I love it, I have a feeling other people will too and it could make a great gift!
    For example, I bought a Pampered Chef tool that chops up ground beef like a pro and makes cooking so much easier. It’s a game changer! So for Christmas I ordered some for several women in my family. And guess what? They loved it too 🙂
    IMG_7797

MEN IN YOUR LIFE:

  • Wood Docking Station
    -My husband has this and we both really like it. It looks very nice and holds everything from his phone and wallet to watches, sunglasses, and keys. I got it from Palmetto Wood Shop. You can choose from a variety of colors.
    IMG_7786 (1)
  • Whiskey, Beer, Favorite Liquor (21+ of course)
  • Whiskey Accessories
    ie: whiskey ice cube molds, whiskey glasses, or other accessories. I got my husband a death star ice cube mold because he’s a Star Wars nerd 😉
    IMG_7787
  • Beard or Shaving Stuff
    Beard- beard oil, lotion, beard kit, beard comb
    No Beard- grooming kit, homemade or good quality shaving cream, shaving brush
    IMG_7800
  • Travel Bag
    -I purchased personalized travel bags for some of the guys in my family. They’re good quality and can hold all their bathroom products when traveling. This one is from Thirty-One and they call it the “24/7 Case”.
    IMG_7789

KIDS:

  • Creative Gifts
    ie: chalk, crafts, new art supplies, play dough  (just not anything that creates too much of a mess or has a lot of small parts)
    *mom and dad will love if you include an organizer with it too
    IMG_7803
  • A Fun Outing
    ie: movies, zoo, bowling, mini golf, etc. Kids tend to look back and remember experiences more than toys
    *If you want them to still be able to open something, you could wrap a small item to represent your outing
  • Imaginative Play
    ie: Dr. kit, tool kit, baking set, dress up clothes
    IMG_7804

I hope some of these ideas helped you check some people off your list!

Shape Hunt & Scavenger Hunt

A few ideas for keeping small people busy! The boys are loving these 2 games right now. And the great part is there’s not much prep to them.

Shape Hunt – The object of this game is to find the shapes hidden or placed around the room. Draw some shapes, cut them out, add tape, and BAM! Endless fun 🙂

Try to “hide” the shapes at eye level for younger ones

I traced the shapes onto another paper so they could put them in their place as they found them. It helped them to see what shapes were left to find too.

img_4944

Steps to Play:
1) Cut out shapes
2) Trace shapes on another paper
3) Add tape to cut out shapes (painter’s tape works great)
4) One person counts to 20 0r 30 while the other person puts the shapes around the room
5) Person counting finds shapes and matches them to their spot on the paper

Scavenger Hunt – The object of this game is to find the listed items. Here are a few examples. The boxes at the end are for the boys to check off when they’ve found that item.

img_4959

img_4910

I’ve found that this is a great way to talk about textures, patterns, shapes in everyday objects, and using your senses. Depending on the age the scavenger can be made easier or more difficult.

Have fun!!!!

 

Breakfast Burritos-bacon, egg, potato, & gravy

img_4806

Bacon, eggs, potatoes, cheese, and gravy wrapped in a tortilla. It’s a pretty good way to start the morning. And it can last many mornings if you make extra, wrap them and store them in the freezer. Here’s my burrito assembly set up:

img_4802

It’s burrito making time!

Now I know that breakfast burritos really aren’t that hard to make. But there are many options and ways to do it. So since I was making a batch, I thought I would share!

To start I cooked up the potatoes. I used diced potatoes found in the frozen section, but shredded would work too! Once those were browned and cooked, I added in beaten eggs. Stir into potatoes until scrambled. Turn heat off and add shredded cheese. It will melt as you stir it in. It’s nice to have the potatoes and eggs in one skillet. Less dishes, less mess.

And Bacon. Yes bacon. The salty, meaty, crispy goodness that completes every good breakfast meal. Cook it until crisp and crumble into a bowl.

I chose to top it off with bacon gravy. I grew up going to my MiMi’s house for biscuits and bacon gravy, so its definitely a comfort food for me. You could choose a different gravy or green chili. Both are great options.

Wrap up the leftovers and store in a zip lock in the freezer.

img_4807

Breakfast Burritos – Bacon, egg, potato, and gravy
Yields 7-8 

Ingredients:

  • Diced potatoes – half of a 32 oz bag
  • 8-10 large eggs
  • 7 slices of thick cut bacon
  • Shredded cheese for sprinkling on top of potato/egg mixture
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Gravy or green chili
  • Large tortillas

Directions:

  1. Follow directions on the diced potatoes package. Add in salt and pepper to taste. I started cooking the bacon at the same time as the potatoes. (In a separate skillet of course ;))
  2. In a separate bowl crack your eggs and beat. I like to add a little bit of milk to help fluff them up.
  3. When potatoes are cooked, pour in the eggs and stir until scrambled. Take off heat and sprinkle cheese on top. Stir to melt it into the mixture.
  4. Crumble bacon into a bowl. If you’re making bacon gravy, don’t forget to save some of the bacon grease.
  5. Heat up your green chili or gravy of choice. This is the bacon gravy recipe I used:
    http://www.unclejerryskitchen.com/recipes/southern-white-gravy-just-like-moms/
  6. Set up your breakfast burrito assembly and go to town!
    1-tortilla 2-potato/egg mix 3-crumbled bacon 4-gravy or green chili 5-wrap it up
  7. Saran wrap and freeze in a zip lock

 

~Fun Lunches~

Here are a few ideas to kick it up a notch at lunch time. Sometimes (or all times) kids can be picky eaters. However, if their lunch looks like a smiley face or their sandwich is in the shape of a  bunny rabbit they might be a little happier to eat it. It’s worth a shot right?

I enjoy being a little creative with their lunches, but I don’t want to be spending too much time and energy on it. After all they’re just going to eat it 5 seconds after my masterpiece is finished. So these are very easy ways to just make it a little more colorful and fun.

Colorful Containers – I like to use fun cups like these (Target $1 section) or cupcake liners to put fruit, veggies, goldfish, etc. I don’t know why, but just simply putting food into something colorful makes the same old-same old feel more like new.

Shapes – Most of us already have some cookie cutters. They can be pretty inexpensive if you want to get a few more. I suggest cutting the bread with the shape cutter BEFORE adding the fillers (pbj, mayo and turkey, ham and cheese, etc). Then continue making the sandwich. Otherwise you’re wasting everything that gets cut out.

IMG_4232

Faces – Happy faces! This is one of the boys’ favorites. There are so many different ways you can make a silly face. And don’t feel bad if you have to tell them it’s a happy face lol They will still love it!

A4522D61-87E6-4FB5-9892-16D3898B9232

Pizza Time

Interactive – Making lunch together is a really fun thing to do every now and then! We made little pizzas here and they had a blast. You can also take this opportunity to teach kitchen safety; ovens are very hot, knives are sharp, only mommy can use this or that, etc.

Other easy interactive lunches for kids:

  1. Corn dog muffins – cornbread batter in muffin tins with a piece of hot dog in the middle
  2. Quesadillas
  3. Pancakes – they can help you make the batter and then watch you cook and flip
  4. Nachos
  5. Calzones

Getting new cups, straws, utensils, and plates every so often is exciting too!

The Dollar Tree carries some and the dollar section at Target is great for that too. The most I spent on these items was $3 at Target for the Minion plate. BA-NA-NA! Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

IMG_4303

Lick it!

New foods can be scary for some children. Or they can get in a rut and just refuse any change. The oldest child I take care of doesn’t like trying new foods. The unknown of it all scares him. But his mom told me about an approach she heard to help with this. And it has helped him overcome some of his fear and realize he does like other foods. If you’re introducing a new food and they are hesitant about it, they can choose to do one of these 3 things:

  • Bite it
  • Lick it
  • Kiss it

This gives them some reasonable contact with it before completely banishing it to the black list of evil foods.

Now get out there and do some lunch art! 😉

What Women Going Through Infertility Wish They Could Say

First, a little humor:

yourinfertiletoo

Then, a little encouragement:

blessedisshe

Now, onto my post 🙂

Going through infertility has changed me and my outlook in so many ways. It’s a grief process that just never ends. You go through it over and over until you think you can’t take it anymore. But it just keeps coming.

I’ve talked with several other ladies who are or have experienced infertility as well. We all agree that it’s truly shocking what people will say to you. Many times, they just aren’t thinking when they say it. They don’t understand what we go through mentally and emotionally every single day.

After talking to these other women, I’ve compiled a list of things we wish we could say to everyone. My hope is that it will prevent strained relationships and a lot of hurt feelings.

  1. Please understand that it’s a big deal and the worst feeling ever for us

You know how a lot of women have dreamed of being a mom since they were little? Well, women with infertility have too. And now we have an empty room waiting to be a nursery. We have a house waiting to hold our children’s laughter, tears, celebrations, and memories. We have an SUV waiting to hold a car seat.  We have a play room waiting to be played in. So here we are waiting and waiting to give our future children all those things we now have. And it’s not happening.

We feel sad, devastated, ashamed, out of control, helpless, angry, lost, left behind, and lots and lots of other things. We rejoice in our friends’ growing families, but that sad pit in our stomach never goes away.

  1. Don’t tell me what you think I should do or what you think God’s plan is for me

This is my story. Everyone’s stories and journeys are different. I know you’ve heard other infertility stories from your friend, your sister’s friend, your grandma’s friend’s granddaughter. But that’s theirs. This is mine. What happened or didn’t happen for some people is different from what will or won’t happen for me. Please don’t tell me what I should do to “fix” my problem. For example:

 

  • Just Relax
  • Don’t think about it or stress so much
  • Change your diet
  • God doesn’t want you to have kids
  • Adopt, and then you’ll get pregnant
  • Maybe God just wants you to adopt
  • Have you tried *insert baby making sex advice*?
    (Believe me we’ve tried millions of different “approaches”)
  • Everything happens for a reason, just wait and it’ll eventually happen
  • Etc Etc Etc

 

Instead, just tell me you’re thinking of me, praying for me, hurting for me. That’s all I need to hear right now. You have no idea what God has in store for my life. Just be there for me to confide my hurts, pray for me and my husband, and share in this unknown journey with me. You don’t need to have any answers or advice.

  1. Don’t buy or give me things for when I eventually have kids

It will just sit in my house and remind me I STILL haven’t been able to conceive a child. I would like to tell you I don’t want it, but then I might hurt your feelings. So instead I take it, say thank you, and die a little inside. I understand that you may have good intentions, but it’s a terrible idea. Just wait until we have a child on the way. Then it will be exciting instead of awkward and hurtful.

  1. Don’t tell me all the terrible infertility stories you’ve heard

I’ve been told about people who tried every fertility treatment possible including IVF and still failed to conceive, got divorced because it affected their marriage, never were able to have kids, had miscarriage after miscarriage. I already worry about these things people! You don’t have to tell me horror stories about it. Please Stop!

  1. Don’t tell me how my infertility affects YOU

I’m sorry that you feel awkward telling me you’re pregnant, being pregnant around me, or talking about baby stuff. But I would trade places with you in a second. So you feel awkward for a few minutes?  I feel heart sinking pain all the time. Pretty sure you’re on the better end of this.

  1. Don’t brag to me about how easy it is for you to conceive

“We weren’t even trying. Oops! Fertile Myrtle!”
“He just has to look at me and I’m pregnant!”

You know how annoying it is when people don’t even have to study? They just walk in and ace the test. You study for HOURS and still don’t get a great score. Take that X’s a million and that’s how frustrating it is for people to say these things to you. Make jokes about it with your other friends. I on the other hand am more likely to burst into tears than laugh with you.

  1. Don’t ask people why they don’t have kids yet

Their heart just sank into their stomach and they’re trying not to turn 10 shades of red and strangle you. Since there’s even less of a chance to conceive when you’re locked in a jail cell, they don’t. But believe me, they thought about it.

  1. Don’t ask for updates on their infertility

If they want you to know, they’ll tell you. But more than likely nothing significant has happened or they’re just not ready to share it with you/others yet. Asking them (especially frequently) only hurts.

  1. Don’t ask us to go maternity clothes/baby shopping with you

It’s a knife to the gut. We wish with all our hearts we could enjoy that kind of shopping. But we can’t. Ask another mommy friend to join you.

If you’re struggling with infertility, don’t hold it in. Talk to someone you trust. Let them pray for you. Get connected with someone else going through the same thing. Talking to someone who understands can be such an encouraging experience. It’s easy to feel like you’re alone when everyone around you is announcing their pregnancies and growing their families. But you’re not alone. 1 in 8 couples experiences infertility.

Chalk Painting for Kids

image

Summer is in full swing! Warm mornings and stinken hot afternoons. So we enjoy hanging outside in the mid mornings and then staying inside after lunch time. Its fun for them and me to try new outdoor activities sometimes. Chalk is always a go to, but what about chalk paint?!

I picked up a chalk painting kit one day and the boys I nanny loved it a lot. But once it was gone, they wanted me to go buy more. I had a feeling I could make my own pretty easily, and I was right! I used a cheese grater from the Dollar Tree, sticks of chalk, and water.

Grate chalk into powder, add water, stir, and paint.

They really enjoyed using little foam rollers to “paint” on the driveway. And it entertained them all morning long!

BONUS: It’s washable 😀