The 25 Days of Christmas - How We Have Fun At Christmas Without Santa

Before Elise was born, we made the decision that we would not "do" Santa. While it is magical for children, to us, it just felt dishonest. And we knew that one day Elise would figure out that Santa was not real and that we had lied to her. We didn't want to break her trust or give her any cause to doubt our word. (There is a whole other theological discussion that we could have here, but not today.)

Now, let me stop here...I'm not judging you if you do Santa at your house, just as I don't want you to judge me for not doing it at my house. We all have to make our own parenting decisions and whatever works for individual families is totally OK with me.

That being said, people who know this about us always have 1 question - "Don't you think that Elise will miss the magic?" The answer, "Nope." We still have fun, she visits with Santa at school (we aren't anti-Santa, he just doesn't get the credit for bringing the gifts at our house!), we plan plenty of intentional activities that make the month of December as magical for her as any other child.

We have a set of 25 drawers that I decorated last year when she was old enough for us to begin the tradition and each day holds a surprise. She has literally been asking about the drawers since October! Some days hold a small treat, others something fun that we can do as a family. She looks forward to opening that drawer as much as, if not more than, I have seen kids look forward to sitting on Santa's lap and giving their Christmas list.

In Elise's mind, Santa is a character just like Minnie Mouse or a Disney princess, and because every year at school he passes out candy canes, if you ask her what Santa is bringing her, she will tell you a candy cane. We have talked with her this year about what others believe and how we don't spoil what they believe, we just keep it a secret.

Here is what the 25 Days of Christmas look like for us this year: (pictures of what we have done so far are included!)

·       Let’s deck the halls outside!

·       Make a gingerbread village.

·       It’s time for the Christmas Parade!

·       Christmas Party at the Hefner’s.

·       Yummy! A sweet treat!

·       Decorate the refrigerator and windows.

·       Who wants to make Christmas Rice Krispy Treats?

·       Let’s go on a Candy Cane hunt!

·       Let’s snuggle with Christmas movies and cocoa.

·       Buy cookies to bake with Ms. Caitlin.

·       See Mimi sing in the Messiah.  See the Christmas lights!

·       Special breakfast is waiting. And Santa is coming to school!

·       Let’s bake Chocolate Crinkle cookies to take to school.

·       It’s Christmas Party Day at school!  Don’t forget the cookies!

·       Hang a new ornament on the tree.

·       Let’s decorate a tree and wreath for Elise’s room.

·       Let’s make ornaments to give to family and friends.

·       Party at our house tomorrow night! Let’s decorate!

·       Who wants a big girl room?

·       Yummy! A sweet treat!

·       Christmas Party at Church. Let’s give gifts to our friends!

·       Read a new Christmas book.

·       Let’s play the Saran Wrap Ball game!

·       Put out your stocking so we can fill it up!

·       Merry Christmas! Read Luke 2.



Tipsy Tuesday (#380)

Do you do any holiday baking?

Tip #380

If so, you definitely need to keep this handy list of baking substitutions from Today's Creative Life close by. I can't even remember the number of times that I have started to bake something only to realize that a key ingredient is missing. I am planning to print these out to keep in my kitchen.

What is you favorite holiday treat to bake? I love making Red Velvet Cake Balls!


What's Up This Weekend?

Here's what's up this weekend at our house:
  • The Rev and I have a date night planned in the big city tomorrow. P.F. Chang's!
  • And a trip to the city means that we can visit some stores that we need to and finish up some Christmas shopping. So close to finished!
  • Next week is the last week of school before Christmas break, so I need to assemble gifts for Elise's teachers.
  • If you have been hanging around for a while, you know that my least favorite part of Christmas is wrapping presents, but I have put it off for as long as I can and the pile is getting big, so this weekend I must wrap!
  • And because Christmas is not busy enough, we are also in the middle of (finally) redoing Elise's bedroom so that it is a little more big girl and functions a little better for her. Moving furniture, assembling furniture and even painting furniture are in progress!
  • Plus, we are going to see my Mom perform in the "Messiah" and surprise Elise with a trip to see the Christmas lights!
  • And of course, it is not a weekend without the usual house cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and meal prep.
What are your plans this weekend?


Tipsy Tuesday (#379)

Do you do stockings with your family for Christmas? I love filling Elise's stocking, mostly because I love all things mini sized and the stocking is a great place for those.

Tip #379

The Jenny Evolution had this great list of stocking stuffer ideas for all ages. There are some great ideas that I hadn't thought of.

What do you like to give/receive in your stocking? Our Mom fills ours with toiletries, so we don't have to spend our money on them. We get pretty excited about deodorant and razor blades!


Tipsy Tuesday (#378)

Not gonna lie...I hate laundry. It takes up so much of my time, with just 3 of us, I can't imagine how bigger families get it all done.

Tip #378

According to this handy guide on when to wash everything from Good Housekeeping, I should be washing some things less often and some things more frequently.

Do people really wash their hand towels every day? Do you?....Don't tell me, you'll just make me feel bad about myself...


Tipsy Tuesday (#377)

We kind of have a water bottle situation...as in we have too many to store in our regular drinking glass cabinet.

Tip #377

I saw this tip from Better Homes & Gardens to use a plastic wine rack for water bottle storage. Why didn't I think of that?

Also, found a holder just for this purpose on Amazon!

Maybe now I can get those organized so that they will stop falling out of the cabinet onto my head!


Chocolate Chip Hummus (or How To Get Protein in Your Picky Kid)

I've mentioned before that Elise pretty much avoids meat - occasionally a hot dog or chicken nugget, maybe some ham or bacon - but for the most part we have to look for other ways to get protein in her. We are fortunate that she likes eggs, cheese, yogurt, and almonds, but that can get boring for a kid.

This Chocolate Chip Hummus is her favorite - she will eat it with apples or just by the spoonful. And she loves to help me make it! Do not read the recipe and turn your nose up at the beans in it, I promise that you cannot taste them at all. They combine with the almond butter and oats for a great protein packed snack or breakfast. In my opinion it tastes just like chocolate chip cookie dough, with no raw egg worries (though let's be honest if you could really die from eating raw cookie dough, the Rev would be long gone!).

I like to eat it warmed just a little so the chocolate gets melty! Let me know if you try it!


Tipsy Tuesday (#376)

Do you host family for Thanksgiving dinner? We sort of rotate between our families, so we will be with the Rev's parents this year.

Tip #376

But if I were responsible for planning and cooking, I would definitely use this handy guide from Simplemost to help me determine how much to prepare.

Though I have to confess, I always like to over prepare because my favorite part is all those leftovers!

What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish? Least favorite?


A Super Hero Party for Our Super E

I think it is her intense love for her Daddy and his intense love for super heroes, that draws Elise to them. She had been asking for a Super Hero Party ever since we finished celebrating with her pumpkin party last year. I loved the idea and scoured for ways to make it a girly Super Hero party.

She indulged me with a photo shoot and that helped me create invitations to set the tone of the party.

Next, came decorations, I was able to locate a lot of pre-made stuff in our aqua, pink, and yellow color palette. These balloons from Birthday Express were a favorite of mine, but I was probably most excited about the skyscraper cupcake stand!

Our earlier party time (that is what was available at the YMCA) and a desire to keep it simple meant we just served a variety of Super Hero inspired snacks - Avengers Granola Bars and Cheez-Its, Super Hero Yogurt, Cake Batter Dip with Cookies, and Batman and Captain America inspired fruit trays.

Our Super Hero guests (everyone was so great to wear their favorite hero costume) ran wild in the gym, pulled open a piƱata, and enjoyed a balloon avalanche. And of course, we had to send them home with bat signal flashlights (just Dollar Tree flashlights with a vinyl bat sticker placed to project a bat signal on the wall)!

Elise had an absolute blast and has requested another Super Hero Party for next year...but ssshhhh, the Rev and I are planning a huge surprise trip for next year's birthday celebration, so no party needed!



Dear Elise,

You have 1 month in the books as a 4 year old! It does not seem possible. You are definitely your own person and we see a bit more every day of who you are growing to be. Here is what you are up to:

•Vitals: You are 41 1/2 inches tall and weigh 34.4lbs.

•Eating: You are still a nibbler and love to graze all day long. You inherited your sweet tooth from your Mom for sure. And your love for condiments comes straight from your Dad...I am mortified when you both drink out of your condiment cups in public...

•Sleeping: You take an afternoon nap and are down for bed by 8. It takes you forever to fall asleep. Your excuse is always that you have to "teach a class" to all of the baby dolls that share your bed. We have been doing some kid's bedtime yoga and that helps calm you some. You are becoming less and less afraid of the dark.

•Wearing: Sadly, we are not shopping much in the Toddler section anymore and have moved to the Girl's section since a size 4 is longer than a 4T and my tall, slim girl needs all of the extra length that she can get. You have a Super Hero T-shirt collection that you love to rotate through. A dress' worthiness is still judged by it's twirl factor!

•Talking: ALL. DAY.LONG. and even in your sleep. Dr. Pontzer has warned us that you are very smart and ahead for your age and that Mom and Dad are going to have to work overtime to keep up with you...don't we know it!

•What You Love: Anything crafty, going to school and church, your friends - you and Piper are in different classes this year, so your friendship with Glory-Maeve is getting stronger, dancing, treats, Smokehouse, cooking and baking, Scarlett, parties, Snow White is a recent favorite, cutting with scissors, surprises of any kind, being silly, tattoos, bouncy houses, running, and superheroes. You are playing Little Dribblers basketball and taking clogging lessons.

•What We Love: ALL OF YOU! Even the tantrums. You freely offer "I Love You's" all day and that is the best! You are our most favorite girl!

Mommy (and Daddy!)


Tipsy Tuesday (#375)

I use my smartphone for pretty much everything. In fact, I often forget my real camera and have to rely on my phone.

Tip #375

One Good Thing by Jillee has a great list of 49 ways that you can use your phone's camera and they are brilliant - some I already put into practice, others I wish I had thought of. Here are a few that I already use:

  • If you keep a dry erase or chalk board in the kitchen to write down stuff you are out of, instead of transcribing the list to take to the store, simply snap a photo of it!
  • When grocery shopping for a recipe, snap a photo of the ingredients list before you leave the house for easy access.
  • When walking through the bookstore, take photos of books you may want to check out from the library.
  • Keep a photo of the ever-changing monthly class schedule at your local spa, gym, recreation center, etc.
  • Take pictures of tags on clothing, bar codes, product info etc. You can often find the exact same thing online for a cheaper price.
Be sure to check out the complete list. How do you use your phone's camera?


Summer 2016 Recap in Photos

Time to start catching you up on all that happened during my blogging break! Here is a look at the highlights of our summer.

{Kiddie Camp & Swim Lessons at the YMCA)

{Cousin Time}

{Beach Vacation}


{My Sweet Girl!}


Tipsy Tuesday (#374)

So, we have entered the season in life where Elise has her own extracurricular activities - currently clogging and basketball. So, what do you do while you wait the hour it takes to wait on her to finish? Not really enough time to go home, but too much time to waste.

Tip #374

I love this list from Suburban Simplicity of ways to kill time while you are waiting. Here are a few of the 50 that she suggests:

1.   Take your computer – work
2.   Read a good book
3.   Skim through a magazine
4.   Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea
5.   Clean out your email or texts
6.   Paint or file nails
7.   Meditate 
8.   Clean the car
9.   Chat with a friend
10. Order dinner for the family
11. Plan your week
12. Do some sitting exercises (your bottom will thank you)
13. Make appointments
14. Do online banking
15. Brainstorm blog posts 
16. Set your DVR
17. Donate to your favorite cause
18. Read The Skimm
19. Check traffic

20. Write thank you notes

Be sure to head over to her blog and read the rest!
What do you do while you are waiting?


Tipsy Tuesday (#373)

Y'all know by now that Halloween candy is my absolute favorite! I have a tendency to subscribe to the same school my MeeMaw did - buying candy for trick-or-treaters that I know aren't coming, just so I have an excuse to eat it!

Tip #373

But , boy, do those little bites of yummy goodness add up. Just a friendly reminder how much work it takes to exercise off those morsels. 

If you need me, I'll be mourning the absolute despair at how much work it is to eat a Reese's Cup and then try to undo the damage... Also, there is no way that I would waste my time on candy corn, but I know that some of you love it - enough to chop wood though?

What is your favorite Halloween candy? Do you usually get trick-or-treaters?