Monday, December 28, 2015

10 Goals For This Week and Why Our Christmas Decorations Are Staying Up

I'm really looking forward to continuing our Christmas celebrations this week with family.

Happy Monday and Merry Christmas!  Before you find yourself in a hurry to pack up each and every Christmas decoration this week take a moment to reflect on the fact that it is only the 4th Day of Christmas.  That's right.  Traditionally Christmas marks the beginning of the Christmas season and not the end.  December 25 marks the beginning of the 12 days of Christmas which run through January 6.  January 6 is also Epiphany or the day that Christians celebrate the coming of the Magi.  In our home I have passed down the tradition from my parents of leaving all of the decorations up until we celebrate the coming of the Wise Men on January 6.

While you might feel a rush to pack everything away once-don't!  Even if you notice your neighbor's decorations are all neatly packed away in the garage.  Instead choose to incorporate just a little more memory making this week with your family.  Were you secretly hoping to bake "Christmas Cookies" with your children before Christmas?  Pencil that right into your week because Christmas isn't over!  This week I"m planning to spend lots of time enjoying Christmas music, books, traditions, and even a project or two that didn't happen before December 25.  I will even be fine tuning an arrangement of We Three Kings to play on Sunday so there is sure to be a lot of Christmas music in the Emerson home.

This Week's Goals:

Marriage, Mothering, & Family
1.  Plan a fun at home date for New Year's Eve.  With young children in our home we honestly enjoy spending the evening at home much better than a late night out.  I'd love your suggestions for our celebration at home.
2.  Whisk the family off on a Day Trip to Columbus, OH.  We are looking forward to visiting COSI while we are there and possibly the Topiary Park depending on the weather.
3.  Continue to enjoy Christmas with my family this week.  I'm hoping to finish reading The Nutcracker, and make candy or cookies with the children.

4.  Finish reading Professionalizing Motherhood.
5.  Workout three times.  I would also like to take advantage of the kids being on break (from both schoolwork and therapy) to head to our gym at least once.  We bought Evangeline a new bathing suit for Christmas and she keeps begging to go to the pool.

6.  Sew a birthday gift for my sister-in-law Amber.
7.  Get rid of 50 items in 50 minutes!  Want to join me this week in this area?  The plan is to set the timer for 50 minutes and quickly find 50 items that no longer need to live at my home.  These items will be passed onto family, friends, or dropped off at the care mission.
8.  Write a letter in order to straighten out an insurance mistake.

Ministry & Friendships
9.  Visit my dear friend Sarah who has been one of my best friends since I was a little girl.  She is on bed rest right now and I'm hoping to bring her some cheer.  Last week I was blessed to spend time with two other dear friends from my teenage years.  I'm so thankful that we are such good friends after all these years.  We enjoyed the museum with one friend and the Festival of Lights at the zoo with the other.

10.  Work on advertisement for my tutoring and piano business.  I'm so excited to begin teaching piano lessons and offering tutoring again.  Due to Evangeline's health concerns I took last semester completely off.  Please help spread the word!

What goals do you have for this week?  Does your family continue to celebrate Christmas after the 25th?  How do you celebrate the New Year?

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Our Simple Christmas

This year for Christmas we opted to take a nice relaxed approach.  We cut out a few things in order to simplify Christmas and I am so thankful.  Together we decided to enjoy decorating our home, hosting a Christmas dessert fellowship, building a gingerbread house, enjoying a few outings, reading through Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, and enjoying a thick stack of Christmas books.

On Christmas morning we just took it nice and easy.  Brandon and I woke long before the children.  Eventually Brandon couldn't contain his excitement any longer and we woke them up!  What a sweet memory to hold in our hearts.

Together we enjoyed such a lovely morning of just being with one another.  We opened a few gifts, played with new toys, and enjoyed a leisurely brunch.  I baked a German Puff Pancake for the first time that was a smashing success (and so very simple).

 After plenty of time spent at home to relax we headed to the Farm (my parents home) to enjoy Christmas with extended family.  It was such a delight to enjoy our sweet family which continues to grow.  Elijah and Evangeline especially enjoyed playing with cousin Paisley pictured above.  They just laughed and giggled for hours.  What a great reminder of exactly how Christmas should be.

While at the Farm we enjoyed a lovely dinner together and opened more gifts with family.  (Evangeline is pictured above with her great grandmother.)  For our family the holidays always come with divided hearts since it is incredibly rare that we see both sides of our family on the same day.  (I think the last time it happened was two years ago for Thanksgiving right after Eva was born.)  We are never rushing from one Christmas party to the next since our families live so far away from one another.  I'm thankful that we were able to travel to Arkansas for Thanksgiving with Brandon's side of the family and enjoy Christmas with my side this year.  We also celebrated Christmas with Brandon's parents when they came to visit for Eli's birthday earlier this month.

My youngest niece Paisley.
Overall Christmas was such a blessing and very relaxed this year.  I'm hoping we can continue this tradition for years to come!  I treasured this Christmas and Advent season where we have been able to really focus our hearts on Christ. 

How did you and your family celebrate Christmas this year?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

November Sewing Projects, A Sweet Memory, and Simplicity 5936 Again

I had so much fun sewing with Meme in November.

Yes we are more than halfway through the month of December but I thought I would share what I was busy sewing in November.  Everything I made in November except for the following jumper is actually a Christmas present so this will be a short post.  Rather than spoil a nice surprise I will only be sharing the jumper that I made for Eva.  Stay tuned after Christmas to see all the gifts that I made.
Brandon's grandmother Meme amazed me with her sewing skills!
 Over Thanksgiving the family and I loaded up and headed to Arkansas to spend close to a week with family.  One of my favorite parts of the week included the afternoon where Meme (Brandon's grandmother) and I had a sewing party!  We had the absolute best time sewing right alongside one another.  Meme is pictured in the photograph above and if you look closely you can see that we each had a sewing machine.  (I'm actually blessed to keep a sewing machine and a small drawer of sewing supplies in Arkansas so I often sew while visiting.)  We sewed all afternoon while the children played and had the best time.  Seriously I am ready to hop on a plane to Dallas with my sewing machine just so we can do it all again!  Meme at the sweet age of 92 sewed five stockings!  I was amazed at her stamina.  I know that I will always treasure the memory of my sewing party with Meme.  

During our "sewing party" I actually sewed Simplicity 5936 (pictured above) for Eva.  This was my second time making the pattern and it has to be one of my favorites.  I"m still kicking myself for not taking the time to trace the pattern last year since it is out of print!  Evangeline is almost the exact size that she was at age one I was able to use this pattern again and sewed a size 1/2.  I think it is so strange that patterns include a size 1/2 because that is never a size that you see in ready to wear clothing.  

The jumper was easy to sew and actually turned out a little bigger this time since I made the seam allowances a little bit smaller.  I sewed view C again and added 6" total to the length.  Eva was so tickled with her jumper even if you can't tell from her face in the picture.  She kept saying "I wear my turkey dress.  I wear my turkey dress."  

What about you?  What have you been sewing or crafting this month?  Are you working on any large projects or sticking to more manageable smaller projects?  

You might enjoy reading:

Simplicity 5936 Toddler Jumper Review (last year)

Monday, December 14, 2015

This Week's Goals

The weeks leading up to Christmas are always busy.  In fact, they can be downright chaotic.  This year I'm hoping to be more intentional with how I spend the days leading up to Christmas.  It's always hard because I think each one of us has a tendency to get stressed out with Christmas just around the corner.  I find it helpful to ask myself, "In thirty years what is going to matter most to me?  Will I be sad that I didn't mark every minuscule deep cleaning item off of my list or will I be thankful that I took the time to make the memories that are important: teaching my children the true meaning of Christmas?"  Here are a few of the items I hope to accomplish this week in between all of the memory making!  

1.  Continue reading Unwrapping the Greatest Gift in preparation for Christmas with the family.  (We are actually a few days behind so hopefully I can squeeze in a few extra readings this week.)  I"m also anticipating lots of time snuggling up on the couch reading a huge stack of Christmas books.
2.  Attend 3 therapy sessions with Evangeline.  I'm super excited because after this week we are taking off for two whole weeks!  Not a single therapy session or doctor's appointment surrounding Christmas.
3.  Spend the afternoon at the museum with friends.

4.  Wash outside windows and possibly hang wreaths.
5.  Sew two Christmas gifts this week.  Sometimes I think the hardest part of making a gift is actually deciding what to make!  This week I need to make a gift for my six year old cousin and it is so hard to narrow down exactly what to make.  I'm also hoping to finalize a "realistic" sewing list for the next ten days.
6.  Purchase final gifts by Friday so that I do not need to do any shopping next week.  
7.  Address and mail 50 Christmas cards.  

8.  Begin reading one of the three books that I have resting on my night stand.  

Ministry & Friendships:
9.  Host a Christmas Party at our home.

10.  Spend time helping my grandmother one afternoon.

What goals do you have for this week? 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

November Reads

What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings--and Life  by Laura Vanderkahm: I really enjoyed reading this book filled with tips and ideas for maximizing one's time.  Although I'm not clocking in at a paying job every morning I do take my job as a stay at home homeschooling mom very serious.  There is so much that I hope to accomplish each day and I must say that this book was so helpful.  The book itself is concise and could easily be finished in one sitting.  At one point last month I even caught the happy hubby reading this book which actually fueled some great discussions.  I am so thankful that he took the time to also read this book!  We talked of course about productivity but also had a great conversation about how we were spending our family time.  One part of the book includes a discussion on what successful people do on the weekends.  It was incredibly helpful for me to read through this section and really determine some goals for each weekend.  I am more encouraged to make our weekends fun family times rather than times to catch up on housework.  (Weekends matter so much more to me since our life has taken on a more hectic schedule with all of Eva's many appointments each week.)  I must say that I have been so satisfied with the way that the last few weekends have played out in our family thanks in part to the encouragement to be intentional with my weekend time.

The Boy in the Alamo by Margaret Cousins: After hearing an excellent discussion of this book at our local co-op I ordered a copy to read with Eli.  The story chronicles the tale of twelve year old Billy Campbell who makes his way to the Alamo.  Characters in the book include Davey Crockett, Jim Bowie, and Santa Anna.  I read this book aloud in November to Eli and he absolutely loved it.  Historical fiction does an excellent job of helping to solidify history in one's mind.  This is such a great read filled with excitement that I would highly recommend to elementary or middle school age children.

Surprised by Suffering: The Role of Pain and Death in The Christian Life by R.C. Sproul: This book has been on my bookshelf for the past few years.  I can't remember exactly why I purchased the book but I do know that it is a book I have been putting off.  I knew when I saw it last month on my shelf that I needed to read it.  I am so thankful that I did.  The past few months in my own life have been difficult.  My family and I have been walking a difficult road as we wrestle with Eva's chiari as well as other things which are beyond the scope of this blog.  I have also had a heart that has just ached as I have walked alongside a number of families in our church who are experiencing grief and heartache.  This book has been a healing balm for my soul the past few weeks.  I needed to be reminded that as Christians we should NOT be surprised when suffering comes our way.  I was reminded in this book that "because of Christ our suffering is not useless."  We really should expect sorrow and pain in this life.  As believers we do not despair when the hard things in life come our way because we have redemption before us.

My Pantry: Homemade Ingredients That Make Simple Meals Your Own by Alice Waters: Throughout this book the author shares her philosophy of cooking at home and includes a plethora of interesting recipes and tips.  I am looking forward to trying a few of the recipes but there are many recipes that call for such expensive ingredients that I doubt I will ever make them.  I had high hopes for this book since the back cover mentions preserving.  You all know how much I enjoy an afternoon of good, old-fashioned canning!  That section of the book proved to be a huge disappointment.  There were few canning recipes and none that I plan on trying.  I also think the title of the book is very misleading.  I would really have appreciated actual detailed lists of exactly what the author's home pantry includes.  That said the book itself is beautiful both inside and out.  It would make a beautiful book to use in decorating one's kitchen.  I also really enjoyed the illustrations which were drawn by Walter's daughter Fanny Singer.  I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

What books did you read in November?  What are you reading in December to help prepare your heart for Christmas?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

This Week's Goals

A beautiful sunset at my parent's farm.

Phew!  It feels good to be home after a week filled with traveling out of state to visit family.  We had a lovely trip but were gone almost the entire week.  This week I will be trying to balance the many responsibilities and appointments that we have with allowing my children to rest.  It always takes at least three days for my children to recover from a long car ride.

This week I am turning my attention towards Advent.  It is my prayer that our entire family can be intentional this coming week to begin preparing our hearts for Christmas.

Here are my goals for the week:

  1. Take the children on a nature walk one afternoon. 
  2. Attend 3 appointments with Evangeline this week.
  3. Begin reading Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas with the family.  We used this book last year and I was so excited to begin that we actually started a day early.  
  4. Complete a list of activities for Advent.  The happy hubby and I had a great time dreaming up activities with our children on Sunday.  We will be incorporating many of their ideas and throwing in a few surprises!    
  1. Sew or make two Christmas gifts this week.  
  2. Drop off consignment items.  
  3. Address twenty Christmas cards.
  1. Finish reading What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. 
  2. Begin reading The Greatest Gift.  
  3. Workout three times.  
Ministry & Friendships:
  1. Attend a funeral for a friend's grandfather.  
  2. Spend time preparing a Christmas offertory this week.  Honestly it's really hard to decide what to play in December because there are so many choices!  
  1. Spend time helping my grandmother one afternoon.
  2. Turn in a big project I have been working on for months! 
What goals do you have for this week?  How have your goals changed this week in light of the fact that it is now December?