Scissors, Glue sticks, & Smiles

It’s mid-January and today it dawned on me. The trees and trimmings have been down for weeks..and I need to take down the MANY Christmas cards that I have hung on the door to our basement. One of my favorite things about the holidays is running (or having my girls run) to the mailbox and excitedly opening each card. We love, love, love  looking at each one. We enjoy familiar faces of friends and family that live close by. We comment about how much those who live far away have grown or changed. And I personally love sharing stories with my girls of the faces they don’t know well…

“These are the children of my best friend from Kindergarten.”


“This was Mommy’s college roommate.  We drank alot of coffee (among other things) together.”


Even…”This was Mia’s (our beloved (and deceased) dog) best friend’s family.”



Yes, we keep in touch with many people who have touched our lives for many years. And despite the fact that I “see” their lives through Face book, these cards are my favorite. Call me old fashioned, but I love and appreciate stationary and snail mail greatly.

So, when I take them down each year, I cut them into small portions (with darling faces still visible) and glue them into a collage. This is pretty basic…just me, the scissors, paper,  and a glue stick I dig out from the closest back pack, but I love doing it. (It reminds me of my old junior high scrapbooks..the ones with cut out phrases from Teen Beat. Anyone else do that?). I digress. But tonight, when smiling and glueing, my nephew came beside me and asked, “Whatcha doin’ Auntie Cole?” I explained what I was doing and why I did it each year.  He was quiet for a moment. And then commented,

“It’s like they are all ONE BIG FAMILY now.”



I smiled bigger. Amen buddy. They are. Our one big family that has touched our lives from the time we ourselves were babies until we had our own babies. Our friends and family who are the village that raises our children by our sides and our parent’s village that helped raise us. In a world that seems more polarizing and more argumentative each day, I choose to smile big and think of us the way my smart and kind nephew does…like one big family.

So, when you complain about the cost and labor of sending Christmas cards next year and grumble under your breath, “they are just going to throw them away,” (I have done the same), rest assured that you too may have a former elementary school friend, college roommate, or friend from the dog park, that is a nerd like me and savors your picture or those of your children and lovingly pieces them together every year in January…so she can see her “one big family” all together, even if it’s only on an old school scrap books page.  And have peace in knowing you have made her heart warm and smile big.

“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet.
Even longer,’ Pooh answered.” 
― A.A. MilneWinnie-the-Pooh

Stuff your Stockings with This

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care…

But all the parents gave was an open blank stare.

What to fill the stockings with they had no clue

Until they read this blog then they knew just what to do!


Stocking stuffers, though fun in theory, are a sort of pain in my side every Christmas.  Each year I struggle to be creative and each year I fail!  I have been known to stuff them with practical things like toothbrushes and toothpaste, but my now 6 year old would be less than enthused with the discovery of those items in her stocking again this year.  So after some conversations with my creative “mommy posse” friends I have compiled this list to help you (and me!) finish up your last minute shopping and create a stocking filled with excitement for your little one(s) to enjoy on Christmas morning!


For the Artist:  pipe cleaners, pom poms, glue sticks, popsicle sticks, google-y eyes, feathers, scissors, markers, colored pencils, paint set, paint brushes, stickers, stamps, stamp pad



For the Explorer: binoculars, magnifying glass, flashlight, plastic bugs, plastic gardening tools (to dig up those backyard treasures)




For the Princess: plastic jewelry, crown, feather boa, wand, fancy plastic shoes, tutu, fake flowers (my daughter played and played with a bunch of fake daisies until they fell apart, they make a great wedding bouquet and help set a fancy table for a tea party)



For the Prince:  crown, army hat, army men, pirate eye patch, pirate hook, superhero mask, plastic handcuffs, policeman badge



For the Jokester: fake mustaches, crazy glasses, new joke book, hand buzzer, trick gum, wax lips/teeth



Throwback stocking: bag of marbles, set of jacks, harmonica, pick up stix, jump rope, kaleidoscope, finger puppets, bouncy ball, slinky, wind up toys



For the Baby: baby puffs, pacifiers, sippy cup, rattle, bibs, board books



For the Bathing Beauty: bathtub crayons, bubble bath, bath squirters, foam letters, bath fizzers, bathtub finger paints



For the Musician: maracas, drums sticks, bells, harmonica, recorder, horn



So there you go, hopefully you can take some good ideas away from this blog to help you create a memorable stocking for your loved one.  My goal is for my kids’ stockings to be filled this year with items they love so much they don’t notice the candy that isn’t in them!  Merry Christmas!


Holiday Traditions full of LOW stress but HIGH JOY!

One of my favorite realizations that I’ve come to know as a parent but somehow always felt or knew as a child is that routines and rituals lead to a feeling of stability.  A child thrives in the safety of knowing what will happen next. So much of our world is unpredictable.  I love enjoying the comfort of what we do know.


Holiday traditions are another way to build those warm and fuzzy memories.  Children love remembering yearly customs and traditions, but these don’t need to be overly crafty, or tangled in multiple steps or with countless supplies. Look around! Much of what you are already doing is likely building a safe haven of warm traditions for your family.

When I was a child, one of my favorite Christmas memories was an annual gathering of family friends for our Christmas Party.  Once upon a time, four young couples that used to disco dance on Friday nights, expanded to four bustling families and met for dinner a few weeks before Christmas each year.  The setting rotated between the four houses, everyone contributed to the meal, and Santa paid a visit with a special toy for each child and a gag gift for each adult.  When we were tiny, part of this tradition included one of the Mothers (who I lovingly call the YaYa sisters because…they are just that) reading the Christmas story from the Bible.  Each child would have a small piece of the nativity in his/her hand and get to place it into the set when that part of the story was read.  As we grew, this somehow turned into us older children acting out the story in a thrown together play in someone’s basement. 



Yep, here we are… wood paneling and all… with Baby Jesus (compliments of Xavier Roberts himself) at the center of it all. This picture makes me laugh loudly. I’m guessing kids around this age don’t choose to spend Friday nights this way without any direction or pressure from parents these days! None the less, these were memories made. Predictable holiday routines. Joy.



At my own home, we are building on some traditions we started and I wanted to share with you.

One of my favorites is our Christmas book basket.  Started with a collection that I’ve had since I was a child, and built upon yearly through gifts we received or books we purchased ourselves, this collection only comes out with the Christmas decorations and only stays out for those few special weeks.  I love the old school mix of these favorites intertwined with fancy pop up books and our favorite scratch-n-sniff selections.  Amazingly, my children spend most of December centered around this collection.  Like special toys that are put away and only allowed for a short time, these treasures are used to teach school, sing carols, and “play” church.


In addition to our traditional tree with all the homemade ornaments, we have a small “travel” tree.  Our family loves to travel and we enjoy collecting ornaments at the various places we visit.  It is even more fun revisiting the memory of the trip when we decorate the tree.  While we dream up new trips and places to explore, we fill in the tree with handmade crocheted snowflakes made by my aunts and my husband’s great grandmother. A mix of past and future – what could be better!




Possible not so unique, but equally loved by my children, is this sweet Advent calendar that was a gift from their Nana. It hangs on our door and they love adding a piece to the Christmas scene each day.



New to our list of traditions this year, is this sweet tree.  It’s made of costume jewelry from my husband’s grandmother.  I love thinking of her southern charm and wit when it glistens across the room from me. I’ve always wanted one of these and was surprised how easy it was to make (velvet scrapbook paper, glue gun, frame – done!). 




It’s easy to get overwhelmed in December. I am here to say that I am not done shopping, haven’t started baking or wrapping, and have not even picked out a Christmas card.  My favorite holiday traditions are not ones that take the most planning or time, just ones that bring the most JOY! Wishing you a low stress, high JOY December!


What are your family’s traditions? What holiday routines do your children love to look forward to? We’d love to hear! 


Speaking of traditions….this guy reluctantly made an appearance (with the help of a grandma) and I’m trying to let him grow on me!


Holiday DIY

I feel very fortunate that my children have 8 grandparents, 28 aunts and uncles and countless cousins to celebrate the holidays with.  Unfortunately at holiday time my wallet won’t stretch far enough to purchase gifts for EVERYone…hence the crafting begins!  Luckily for us, our family most enjoys handmade treasures from the kids.  My grandfather does not want another can of mixed nuts, my father has way more ties than he can wear and my grandmas and mom have more scented lotion and fancy bubble bath than they could ever use in their lifetime!!  So with a little time and a few inexpensive supplies, the kids and I can cross several names off of our list and have fun while doing so.

So if you find yourself scrambling for a good gift idea and unsure how your budget is going to afford all those presents, consider one of these DIY crafts:

Homemade clay magnets


Homemade snowball soap

DIY Snowglobe

Original artwork calendars

No-sew fleece blanket


For more ideas visit our Pinterest board DIY Holiday Gifts.