Celebrating New Year’s Eve

Before we had Lucy, we always went out on New Year’s Eve. Our location of choice was a then-Irish Pub in the downtown area of our little city. It was always a ton of fun to just hang out with our friends at these New Year’s Eve parties.

Now that we’re parents, we typically spend our New Year’s Eves at my in-laws’ cabin in the mountains. We spend the day hanging out and napping, and that night we usually watch movies or read while we wait until the new year to begin. My in-laws don’t have cable up there, so we normally watch the ball drop at Times Square online.

Although I love my low-key New Year’s Eves, one of these days, Joe and I would like to go to New York City for new years parties nyc. I have always thought that would be so much fun to do. However, if we went, we would probably splurge and get a hotel on Times Square and hopefully watch the ball drop from the comfort of our room!

But, this year, like in years past, we’ll be up in the mountains. My parents are coming for the weekend as well, so we’ll all have a ton of fun together. I can’t wait!

Handprint Menorah Craft

When I was interviewing an interfaith family this week, the mother told me her son had made a menorah out of handprints at his preschool. I thought that was such a cute idea. It was definitely something I wanted to do for my in-laws, who are Jewish.

So, today on our way home from my sister-in-law’s house, we stopped by Hobby Lobby and grabbed some supplies. We spent around $10 after two 40% off coupons for two canvases (two pack for $3.99), 2 bottles of paint and a pack of brushes. I didn’t realize the yellow paint was more expensive but, I figure we’ll be able to use the paint and brushes for many, many other projects, so spending $10 isn’t too bad.

Lucy was psyched to paint. She talked about this the whole way home. Thankfully, it was only about a 10 minute drive. 🙂 After we cleared a space on the table, we put down some paper towels and got to work. The first step was to paint her hands. Rather than painting both and then putting them both down at the same time, we did them one at a time. I think that was much easier for a toddler. Mom tip of the day. You’re welcome.

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We put her left hand down first and then the right, putting her right thumb on top of the print from her left thumb, which made a candle holder for the middle menorah candle.

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While Joe washed Lucy’s hands, I painted the base for the menorah. It was fairly simple, which is saying something coming from someone who has no artistic abilities whatsoever. I just painted a line from one hand to the other, then added a thick base. Then, Joe and Lucy added the flames.

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Want to see the finished product??

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Seriously, how cute is that?? And the best part is that it only took about 10 minutes to make! I have plans now for a Christmas-themed painting, which we’ll do when Lucy gets back from her trip with the grandparents this weekend. Can’t wait!

Can I even tell you how glad I am to not be in high school these days? It was bad enough when I was in high school, what, 15 years ago, but now it seems like high schoolers are so much meaner than they were then – coming from someone who wasn’t one of the “cool” kids. Plus, I was much thinner when I was in high school. If I was there now, I’d have to get one of the 2013 plus size prom dresses. Ugh. So glad to be done with those days!

Small Style: FabKids

This is my first time linking up with Morgan’s Small Style feature. Honestly, I never think Lucy’s outfits are cool/cute enough to link up, but this new outfit I got her (for FREE) is one of my favorites. She loves it, too!

Putting dresses or long shirts over leggings or jeggings is one of my favorite ways to dress Lucy, so you may be seeing more of this style as winter progresses. 🙂

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Dress: FabKids
Jeggings: FabKids
Shoes: Payless
Headband: FabKids

Holiday Traditions

When I was a child, my family had quite a few Christmas traditions. When we lived in Maryland, there was a house we would drive by every year because the homeowners had a HUGE tree that they decorated.

After we moved to Tennessee, we started going to our church’s musical Christmas eve service, which is one of my favorites. We also had an Advent calendar, and my brothers and I would take turns hanging decorations on it every day leading up to Christmas.

We also have traditional meals that my parents still make. On Christmas eve, my parents make a huge pot of Chow Mein and a fruit salad and, after eating, we move into the living room where my late grandfather would read the Christmas story before we all opened presents (yes, we open our presents on Christmas eve). On Christmas day, we have the same meal we have for Thanksgiving – vegetarian turkey slices and stuffing, mashed potatoes, broccoli and corn casserole, etc – and I look forward to that meal all year!

Now that I have my own little family and that Lucy is old enough to really understand things like traditions, we’re starting to figure out what we want to do with her. I’m lucky enough that, even though Joe is Jewish, he is very hands-on and participates in all our Christmas activities with us. I hope he knows how much that means to me.

Here are some traditions that we do/are doing:

24 Nights of Christmas Books

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I saw another blogger post about this and thought it was such a fun idea that I wanted to do it with Lucy. I bought 24 Christmas books, and every night she opens one. She LOVES it. She will ask numerous times a day if it’s time to open her book. It’s so much fun to see how excited she gets. I hope her love for reading deepens.

Family Ornament

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This is a tradition that Joe and I started our first year as a married couple. Every year, we get an ornament that symbolizes our family or something big that happened to us over the year. The first year, we got a frame ornament with the date and put our wedding picture in it. The next year, we got a house to symbolize buying our first house. In 2009, we purchased an ornament to represent Lucy, the newest addition to our family. It’s so much fun to do this every year and to explain the meaning behind each of the ornaments to Lucy as we decorate our tree.

Cutting Down a Christmas Tree
Last year, we cut down our own Christmas tree for the first time at a local tree farm. It was much easier than we expected, and the trees they grow are Leyland Cypress – trees that don’t shed. That along with the fun we had picking out a tree and having Joe cut it down sold us on the idea of doing this every year. It’s so much more fun than heading to Lowe’s or Home Depot to get a tree.

Advent Calendar
I love Advent calendars, and from the beginning, this was one thing I wanted to do every year. We have one that we hang on our wall to mark each night before Christmas, and last year I got Lucy one with which she would open a door every night and get a piece of chocolate. It’s such a fun way to count down to Christmas.

Giving Gifts to Children in Need/Adopting a Child

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When I was in elementary school, my family would adopt a family every year and provide them with Christmas gifts. It’s one thing that has always stood out in my mind and something that I enjoyed even as a child. And, it’s something I want to do with Lucy to remind her that it’s better to give than to receive. We were initially going to buy a gift and donate it to the United Way but tonight at our Kiwanis Club Christmas Party, we saw a tree filled with angels representing children who need someone to adopt them for Christmas. So, we picked one for this year. I am SO excited to shop for him and to help make this a Merry Christmas for another child.

Visiting the Santa House

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Did you know that Santa actually lives in Georgia?? Well, he does, and his house isn’t far from here, so we took Lucy last year. He and Mrs. Claus have put up thousands of lights on their property, and it’s fun to go see them all. While we’re there, we visit with Mrs. Claus and see Santa (three years into this parenting thing and my kid STILL doesn’t like Santa). The best thing is, it’s all free. It’s such a fun thing to do, and it’s something we look forward to doing every year.

Other things we have done or would like to do include driving around to look at Christmas lights, riding the Santa train in Blue Ridge and watching Christmas movies.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?

I’m linking up with Growing up Geeky.

Preparing for Pregnancy

When my husband and I decided that we wanted to start a family, I was overwhelmed with everything that I did not know. I was intimidated by the thoughts of pregnancy, childbirth and becoming a parent.

I started searching the Internet for information, but I wasn’t quite sure which websites I could trust. When I found the Everyday Family website, I felt like I finally found a place that provided the information that I needed in a format that I could understand. EverydayFamily.com helped me prepare for pregnancy by explaining what I could do to increase my chances of success for conception.

Once I found out that I was pregnant, I visited Everyday Family even more. The website is a wealth of information about everything from natural childbirth to diapers to breastfeeding. There is a lot of serious and important information at Everyday Family, but the site has fun aspects, too.

Now that I’m a mom, I don’t visit Everyday Family as much, though I probably should because there’s still so much I don’t know. I’m learning something new about parenthood every day. Hopefully, by the time No. 2 comes, I’ll be much more knowledgeable (though you know I’ll still be hitting up the pregnancy websites!)!