A Season for Minimalism

I’ll be honest. Christmas had a way of overwhelming me. Again. The first two weeks of December I was stress-free, completing my Simple Holiday To Do List with enthusiasm. Then came the influx of toys, boxes, heavy meals, candy, cookies, and trash, trash everywhere.

I enjoyed the time with family and friends, but the sheer amount of stuff everywhere had turned me into a bit of a Scrooge, or the Grinch, or the boss on National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (you know, the one who gives Clark a jelly of the month subscription instead of a monetary bonus.) I can feel myself turning into this monster and as much as I try to be Buddy from Elf, I just can’t wait to get organized again. Does anyone else out there feel me?

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I truly am grateful that friends, family, and neighbors love us and want to give gifts, but how can we embrace the joy and magic of the seasons without drowning in cardboard toy packaging and crinkled wrapping paper? We find ourselves drifting from the real meaning of the Christmas season. Spoiler alert: It’s not presents.

So as we begin January, I am thrilled to once again be back to a normal routine. I took down the tree on December 28 and have three boxes of clothes and toys in my trunk just waiting for our local donation center to be open again. This brings me peace.

January is about getting organized, getting healthy, and undoing all the madness December brings. While I don’t have official resolutions this year, I will continue to focus on being the best version of myself for my husband, daughters, and friends, and embracing a deep gratitude for the gifts money can’t buy.

 

 

 

 

A Simple Holiday To Do List

December is officially here and with it the busy feeling that, if not kept in check, can bog us down and take the magic out of the holidays in a hurry. This year I am vowing to slow down, simplify, and enjoy every day of December. Here are 10 things on my to do list and all are about slowing down and enjoying this time of year.

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Remember a neighbor.

Donate toys for children.

Get lost in the Nutcracker ballet.

Say no to something to fully enjoy something else.

Connect with new friends. Catch up with old friends.

Savor every Christmas card received.

Shop early, relax later.

Watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as many times as my three-year-old (ahem, and me) requests.

Hang out under the mistletoe when my husband is looking.

See the magic of Christmas through my children’s eyes.

 

Anthropologie: Stocking Stuffers for Girls of All Ages

Anthropologie has loads of adorable stocking stuffers and gifts for girls of all ages. Here are a few of my favorites for my seven-month-old, my three-year-old, and myself. I live tragically far from Anthropologie, but all of these items are available on their website, too.

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Column 1 (Baby). A soft and artistic rattle and the most precious of cutlery. Column 2 (Toddler). Preschool reading with a feminist twist and fun hair clips. Column 3 (Mommy). A monogrammed keychain that won’t get lost in my huge bag and adorably packaged soap fragranced with fir, cypress, and lavender.

Happy Thanksgiving: Thank You

I truly have a lot to be thankful for in life, but what’s Thanksgiving without a little sarcasm?

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Thank you, six-month-old daughter, for still taking the fall as my excuse for being thick around the middle when we all really know it’s my steady diet of cheese.

On that same note, thank you tights I bought before I had children for cutting off my circulation and making it impossible for me to squeeze in a second helping of pumpkin pie.

Thank you, three-year-old daughter, for waking me up at 5:45 a.m. on a Saturday to tell me you slept so well.

Thank you, other person’s child, for aggressively picking your nose at church Christmas program rehearsal, making my own child’s occasional nose-picking seem so much less horrifying.

Thank you, Banana Republic, for finding 9,736 different phrases with which to market dress pants to me. And for sending each in a separate email all within the 30 days.

Thank you, husband, for “helping” put the girls’ laundry away and, in doing so, knocking over a beer that spilled behind their dresser, prompting me to move the dresser to clean where I found a missing sock that had been haunting my dreams.

Thank you, anyone who pages over-head “housekeeping” in the hospital in which I work for making me snicker and make a Tommy Boy reference every time, even if only in my head.

Thank you, box of stuff waiting to be dropped off at Goodwill. You will continue to live out your purpose in life by hogging valuable space in my trunk for months to come.

Thank you, Jimmy Fallon’s Thank-You Notes segment, for being the only possible thing to get this old gal to stay awake past 10 p.m. on a Friday night.

Now, for real, you guys: I hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am most thankful for my loving husband, two healthy girls, our extended families, and the great friendships I am so blessed to have. Cheers!

The Bond of Sisterhood

Almost exactly a year ago I found out I was expecting my second daughter. This news delighted me, and I could not wait to watch my daughters begin to develop what I hoped would be a lifelong friendship. Having no sisters of my own, I am fascinated by the strong, sometimes-tumultuous, fiercely loyal bond between sisters. Even as young as they are, I can see this between my girls.

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(Photo by Alyssa Crawford Photography)

I am so fortunate to be the person who, along with their Daddy, gets to nurture their independent spirits and help them find their own distinct personalities. I hope that even when they argue, and I know they will, they will always love each other and be there for one another. They are each individuals, yet compliment each other so beautifully.

No one makes my youngest daughter laugh the way her sister can. My oldest is a genuine protector of her baby sister, a characteristic that was present instantly the moment she met her in the hospital room. Both girls light up our world just by being in it.

Those of us without biological sisters find our “sisters” throughout life. I am blessed to have some very close friendships that withstand time and distance. These relationships sustain me when life gets tough. Those ladies are my sisters, not by blood, but by memories, shared laughter, and countless conversations. Whatever sisterhood means to you, there is no denying it is special and something to be cherished.

 

 

 

Don’t Forget Thanksgiving

I know a lot of people are getting excited to start decorating for Christmas, but first comes my favorite holiday: Thanksgiving! This year my husband and I will load up the girls and make the long journey (eight hours) to my mother-in-law’s. Even though I’m not hosting the feast, here are a few items I would love to incorporate into the Thanksgiving celebration.

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1. This sturdy-yet-beautiful trivet would dress up the Thanksgiving table and come in handy throughout the year. (Crate & Barrel) 2. Sweater dresses are a great go-to for looking put together while also being forgiving when the second helping of pumpkin pie can’t be resisted. (Loft) 3. These napkins are simple, elegant, and offer a lovely reminder. (Pier 1) 4. This huge Fiesta platter in Tangerine would look great on any table. (Kohl’s) 5. These adorable turkey salt and pepper shakers would make a lovely hostess gift and are on sale for $14. (Pottery Barn) 6. This throw pillow would dress up the living room couch and come in handy for the inevitable post-turkey nap. (Target)

 

 

A Few Fall Favorites

The leaves are changing and the air is crisp. Here are a few of my favorite things right now.

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1. I have been living in these mustard-colored pants for the past month. They also come in a gorgeous shade of plum. (Gap) 2. Pumpkin mugs are just so festive. (Pottery Barn) 3. My youngest daughter will be sporting this adorable onesie and hat set because I have to relish the time before she insists on having a say in her costume selection. (Carter’s) 4. Burning pumpkin candles this time of year is a must. This one has been my favorite since college. (Yankee Candle) 5. This fox pumpkin kit is a great way for my three-year-old to decorate her own pumpkin. (Target.com) 6. My mom made us a gorgeous wreath from some of our wedding centerpiece flowers for our front door. This wreath is a similar look that I love. (Crate & Barrel)