Merry (Simple) Christmas

I love Christmas time. I love the sights, the smells, the sounds, and the tastes. I love the extra church services and time with friends and family. 

But I also know how easy it is to get so consumed IN the season that I can’t even enjoy the season. I work full-time outside the home, and work hard at home as well, managing our household of eight. It is very easy to become overwhelmed. And you know how the old saying goes, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” 

So, a few years ago (likely the Christmas when I was expecting the twins) I made a conscious effort to simplify. I simply had to let some things  (like Pinterest perfectionism) go. 


Christmas Tree
Sometimes simple is better
I let the kids decorate (and sometimes even re-decorate) the tree. I’m sure you can tell, with the artfully placed ribbon and the three candy canes hanging on the same branch. 

Christmas Eve has the potential to be a stressful day. We began the tradition fifteen years ago to serve a meal of Swedish Meatballs (from frozen meatballs) in between church services on Christmas Eve. It is not a fancy meal, but I serve it on our good China, and a side dish of peas makes it colorful. It is a winning meal for our family though. I only serve Swedish Meatballs on Christmas Eve, and our whole family enjoys them so there is no whining. The great part is that I can throw the whole meal together in about a half hour. 

We spend the day leading up to church relaxing as a family. I might sneak off to my room to wrap a gift or two, the kids may play a board game (or fight, as is their tendency). 

Our family attends the 5 PM Christmas Eve service at church. This *might* be the year that one or both of the girls do not fall asleep during church! Then, the hubs is off to preach at a church an hour away where he is filling a vacancy. The kids and I will set out a spread of cheese and sausage and crackers and a lot of treats that generally come from the frozen food section–shrimp cocktail, pot stickers, fried mushrooms, etc. The whole family looks forward to this (easy) Smorgasbord all year long. We  have special plates that are set aside for Christmas Eve, which adds to the special feel.  

The kids snack, I open a bottle of wine and we enjoy some Christmas movies. The girls have fun setting out (store bought) cookies for Santa, and he stops by sometime after we are all asleep. 

Christmas Day brings church in the morning, then we come home and open gifts and eat leftover snacks from Christmas Eve. The kids play with new toys or read new books and I prepare an easy Christmas feast of ham, cheesy broccoli rice,  rolls and salads.  Honestly, our weekenight meals are trickier to pull together than this one!

All in all, it is a pleasant few days, filled with family, laughter and food.

Did you notice some things missing? Like baking, or reading special stories or playing special games? Oh, no worries. Christmas only BEGINS tomorrow! It is twelve days long and does not even end until January 6. That gives us plenty of time to bake cookies and go sledding and eat favorite treats. There is no rush. And I love it that way. 

Read With Us Wednesday: Week 1 Discussion

Read with UsWednesday


Read with UsWednesday

Welcome to week one of Read With us Wednesday. I’m teaming up with Essie at Essie’s Blessings, and busy moms around¬† the country are teaming up to read manageable, busy mom chunks of a book once a week and stopping by to discuss.

We just started reading The Obituary Society by Jessica Randall. It was free when we began this project, and, as of this writing, is a very affordable $2.99 Kindle edition.¬† This week’s discussion is based on chapters 1-5.

Here is the publisher’s description:

When Lila Moore inherits her grandfather’s house, she finds herself in a small Midwestern town where margarine is never an acceptable substitution for butter, a coveted family recipe can serve as currency, and the friend who will take your darkest secrets to the grave will still never give you the secret to her prize-winning begonias.

Lila is charmed by the people of Auburn, from the blue-eyed lawyer with the southern drawl to the little old lady who unceasingly tries to set Lila up with her grandson. But when strange things begin to happen, Lila realizes some of her new friends are guarding a secret like its a precious family heirloom. It’s a dangerous secret, and it has come back to haunt them. Lila is caught in the middle, and her life may depend on uncovering it. But even if she can, can she stay in Auburn when not everyone is what they seem, and even the house wants her gone?

In these first few chapters, we are introduced to Lila, her great-aunt Ada, and Lil’s newly deceased grandfather, Isaac. If you have not begin reading yet, the writing is very engaging and you should be able to catch right up.

What stood out for me was when Lila was in Ada’s home and in her grandfather’s house, I was flooded with memories of my grandparent’s home. So that is what we will discuss today!

What memories do you have of your grandparent’s home? In our current society, where families live spread across the country, and our mobile society in which people rarely live in the same house for fifty years anymore, will our children miss out on those same “Grandma’s House memories”? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Also, stop over to Essie’s Blessings and check out the conversation over there as well! We’ll be reading chapters 6-10 for next week!




What Every Working Mom Needs: A Vacation

Take a vacation

Take a vacation

We just got back from a much needed family vacation.

Pastor’s families have to get a little creative with vacation time. Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter just don’t work for us. Summer gets super busy with sports, theatre, scout camps, and major fundraisers for my work (we still sneak away for one vacation in summer!)

Our family has found that Washington’s Birthday is a perfect chance to get away!

This year was my first time orchestrating a fairly major one-day online giving event for work. But as soon as the online clock wound down, I packed up the family and we headed out for a few days at a friend’s lake cabin in the woods.

Continue reading “What Every Working Mom Needs: A Vacation”

Getting Our Dinners Back on Track With emeals

Loaded Potato Soup Recipe

eMeals Meal Plans

I’ve been an subscriber for about a year now. I’m a pretty good cook, and I have stacks and stacks of cookbooks, but I was getting bogged down with meal planning. And by bogged down, I mean that I stopped doing it.

I went through a stage of just making our family favorites, but then we all got tired of spaghetti and chili. I went through a cookbook phase where everyday featured a new recipe. That worked about half the time.

Then, I hopped onto the career track. Everything changed. Continue reading “Getting Our Dinners Back on Track With emeals”

Vacation Time

Remember when we went camping with @essieburns and family last summer? Well, it has been over a year since I’ve seen my dear friend. We communicate nearly daily, but we only get to squeal in person once a year or so.

This year we are sharing a lake cabin, and we are not exactly roughing it. A dishwasher, washing machine and real beds and indoor plumbing will change the flavor. We will probably take in some side by side blogging, but this time we won’t have to blog by camping lantern in a screen tent.

My return to work has shortened our summer vacation window, but Essie went back to work too. We’re both ex-sahm trying to navigate the work/life balance. So, instead of a week, we’ll share a long, loud weekend.

I’m looking forward to Dakotapastor piloting the Pontoon boat, seeing old friends, visiting our last congregation, and doing touristy things like buying fudge and candy downtown.

When Essie and I lived closer to each other, we would venture out with six little boys, and I think people wondered about our family dynamic. Now we have six BIG boys and have added three little girls to the mix. Now we’ll look like we’re herding kids when we go out!

I’m looking forward to the chance to recharge . . . And I’ll need it, school starts he day after we return home!

Chime in! Do you vacation with friends? What are some of your best friendcation memories?