Sunday, December 6, 2015

Christmas Card Season

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas cards. I love giving and receiving cards, but I really dislike the stress in the preparation of taking the card photo. It's really hard to take a "good" picture with two small kids (4 and 1 yr old), so this year I decided to NOT stress about it.

That's right. NO STRESS. No fuss on outfits, no big plans, no hiring photographers, no plans. No. Stress. We decided to go to our local park, and have my dad take our picture. {no fuss} I used our "mom cam" {canon rebel t5i}, and I had my dad use the "portrait" setting {it helps keep people in focus and background blurry}. For outfits, Mila and I wore our Easter outfits from this year, Bryan wore a sweater he had, and Caleb wore his Thanksgiving shirt. {no fuss}

At our picture location the kids were terrible. Mila wanted to play with the ducks {and then she fell and scraped her knee}, and Caleb wanted to act like his normal wild self and NOT take a picture. And I decided....I DON'T CARE. I don't. I'm tired of trying to be perfect. I'm tired of comparing my life to the perfect family {you know them, the ones with the perfectly behaved children with the clean house and fabulous stuff}. I'm done. I'm choosing GRACE, NOT PERFECTION.

There was not enough candy to get my kids to take a "good" picture. And I didn't care. My dad kindly asked, "do you want me to keeping trying?"....and I responded, "nope. Our friends getting our Christmas cards know my kids are wild. I don't care anymore.". 

I can't wait to get our Christmas cards and mail them to our friends and family because I think they are PERFECT! They perfectly reflect my new motto of "grace not perfection". They perfectly represent our wild and imperfect family. And I LOVE it!

I found the best cards to go with my "this is our life with kids" idea on Tiny Prints. "seldom calm always bright"...Yep, there hasn't been a "Silent Night" in the Big K house in the past 4 years...and I'm ok with that. 

I want to encourage you if you are stressed, or exhausted by the thought that you're late on ordering Christmas cards...STOP. Seriously. Use a photo you already have or ask a neighbor or friend to snap a quick photo. Let the kids be kids. Stop caring. I don't judge you. And at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what others think. The people receiving your cards already love you! Boom! Now go order your cards...or New Year's cards. ;-)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Elf On The Shelf Celebrates Jesus

Raising children is hard. There are so many choices to be made, i.e breastmilk vs. formula; fastfood vs. homecooked; Jesus vs. Santa; public school vs. private school. You get my point.

As a Christ follower, I try to make each decision based on what God thinks, his Word says, and wisdom. Some decisions are easy, but others are not. Jesus vs. Santa isn't a black and white choice. Unless you're reading a different Bible than me. {insert humor here} 

This year we decided to introduce "Santa" using Jen's idea that "there's a secret to Santa, and when you think you've figured it out, come and let me know". You can read more about Jen's idea here. With "Santa", we decided to start the Elf on the Shelf tradition, but with a twist.  As Christians, we celebrate Jesus' birthday first, but also want to participate in American traditions during the Christmas season. "we are in the world, but not apart of the world"-John 17 

I decided our Elf would teach the kids about God and Jesus, by using our church's preschool biblical truths, and playing hide and seek games. This allows our children to participate in the Elf on the Shelf game, and making Jesus bigger than Santa. To get started, I created a calendar of the 5 biblical truths with notes of what the Elf would do each day, an introduction letter from Santa's elves, and laminated 5 biblical truths cards for the Elf to bring each day (God made everything; God is charge of everything; God is good; Jesus came to save sinners; God wants to talk with us). {hey, to make money, I work as a Director of's only natural for me to make this Elf game EASY}

We've had fun so far celebrating Jesus with our Elf, Buddy! And I'll share our calendar and info for you if you'd like to download. Enjoy! {download here}

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Mila Turned ONE

Last month we celebrated Mila's first birthday and my thirtieth birthday with a Gatsby themed bash. Our birthday, March 7th, happened to fall on a Saturday this year, so I wanted to throw a fun birthday twin party for my mini-me without breaking the bank.

Throwing a party can add up financially, but there are ways to significantly cut costs without cutting details and fun. Here are a few tips to help save cash, and still celebrate:

Advice #1, DIY! I created this DIY invitation using simple templates from adobe photoshop elements.
My biggest advice for decorations is DIY! Huge savings! I made the tassels for under $2, the cardstock paper fans for $1, and the glittered paper letters for $3 (I cut them with my Silhouette machine). I purchased the balloons, outdoor circle fans, and popcorn boxes from Oriental Trading. 

Advice #2, prioritize! My food advice is to keep it simple and prioritize. For me, I knew I wanted a fun cake and cotton candy, so I spent most of my food budget on those items. 
Advice #3, fancy it up! The easiest way to make an inexpensive item look like a million bucks is to add pretty details. I used personalized stickers from Tiny Prints on my popcorn boxes and applesauce squeezies. Ah, I just love little details!

Advice #4, Reuse! My favorite "reusable" decor item is my DIY chalkboard...oh, how I love to draw on that bad boy! 

I like to use fabric table linens instead of plastic so that I can reuse them at multiple events. Amazon has the best prices for table covers and runners. Also, reuse as much of the decorations as possible. I have two plastic boxes specifically for "party supplies", and I'll plan parties based on my current "inventory".
Advice #5, borrow! I borrowed picture frames, tables, chairs, and display boxes from friends. It all adds up! Maybe even borrow and share reused party decor?!

My final advice is to have fun! I was talking to some of my friends and they shared how they are tired of throwing pinterest inspired parties because it's getting out of hand or it's stressful. So then don't. At the end of the day, who's the party for? Personally, I love, I mean love, throwing parties. I love making the decorations, and love planning the details (I just don't bake...the kitchen and I aren't friends). Planning a party shouldn't be about competing for the best decorations and food, and you shouldn't feel pressured by pinterest. My hope in sharing these party tips, is to inspire other party lovers to save a little cash without sacrificing the fun in party planning. 

For more DIY tutorials and tips, go through my pinterest boards. Happy party planning!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Dear Mila

My sweet Mila! I'm so sorry that is has taken almost 9 months before writing your first letter. I've been meaning to sit down and write your letters, but life's busy moments have gotten the best of me. 

Since you've been born, you've brought so much joy into our lives. It's true what others say, a mother's heart expands so much to love each child unconditionally. I have so much love for you!

The first two months of your life were filled with love, and were also hard as we tried to figure out how to solve your acid reflux. Once we had your reflux under control you were a happy little baby. You started sleeping through the night by 4 months old, which helped daddy and I. Thank you for that!

You love your brother, Caleb, so much. You love to watch him play, and you try to crawl after him. You catch on to things quickly. You can sign a few words (more, milk, and clap), and you copy noises and actions. We call you a little parrot. You can sing along with songs, and have funny dance moves. You crawl and scoot backwards, and are trying really hard to go forward. 

You love running errands and getting out of the house. You are so observant! You love to watch people, and people love to talk to you and tell you how cute you are. Strangers tell me how I'm so lucky to have such a happy baby, but I know it's not's God's gift to me. After all, you were born on my birthday! I think God knew that I needed a calm and happy baby (especially since your brother is a "wild man"). 

You love your "eat, play, and sleep" schedule but you don't mind when we mess it up with outings. We even went on our first road trip to Alabama and you were an ANGEL! You truly are the best little baby! (We call you our easy child, but sshh don't tell your brother)

We love you and Caleb so much, and we can't image our lives without the both of you! We pray for Caleb and you daily, begging God to open your hearts and for y'all to know Jesus as your Lord and Savior! We pray that you and Caleb are dear friends, and love the Lord and others well; that you fear the Lord, and pursue Him will all your heart. 

We love you sweet Mila! Our little gracious gift.

Mommy and Daddy