Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 5

Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 5

On a typical morning in our home, the kids have two options for breakfast: oatmeal or eggs. And the kids and I always choose oatmeal.

[What? It’s a super healthy breakfast!]

So you can imagine their excitement when we have Christmas tree waffles!

They were so excited that they fell asleep talking about it last night and woke up a full hour earlier than usual, begging for me to get up and make breakfast.

These waffles are a refined sugar rush complete with m&m’s, powdered sugar, AND syrup.

I have been known to make pancakes every once in a while and even bake cinnamon sugar donuts for breakfast on rare occasions [usually when we are out of oats], but Christmas tree waffles only come around once a year.

😋 😋 😋

Today we also cut out paper snowflakes to hang on our windows.

They did really well considering Theo has never used scissors before in his life and I didn’t give either one of them a pattern of any kind. I just handed them the folded paper and let them go nuts.

I’m going to spray them with a glitter spray I have laying around and then hang them on the sliding door. [Now that we’ve finally taken down the gratitude tree, the door is looking very bare.] The snowflakes are perfect timing since the snow outside has all melted. ☚ī¸

And the kids are already talking about our exciting plans for tomorrow. Let’s hope the weather is nice!🤞đŸģ

Karis

Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 4

Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 4

Yesterday, while we were visiting Brett’s mall, we swung by a toy store to let the kids pick out toys to donate to the Salvation Army’s Toys for Kids campaign. And today, for our Christmas activity, we dropped them off at the collection bin outside Eva’s preschool.

[This is Theo, regretting his decision to give the toys away 😂.]

We do this every year with the kids…and it’s not easy for them to go into a toy store and leave without a toy for themselves. I just kept telling my kids, “You will get your gifts at Christmas and these toys are for other kids to open at Christmas, so you can all have something special Christmas morning.”

It might seem cruel, but it is so important to me that my kids don’t think of Christmas as just a day when they get gifts. I am constantly telling them that Christmas is just as much about spending time with family and friends and giving gifts to other people.

We have also been working very hard on patience with Evangeline, so she understands now that she has to be patient and wait for Christmas to get her gifts. And she and Theo both have such sweet spirits and they want to give toys to other children, so it went pretty well this year. I hope that in the future, my kids can embrace the spirit of giving and look forward to the time when they get to make some other child’s Christmas magical.

🎁 🎁 🎁

Karis

Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 3

Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 3

Today the kids and I went to Brett’s store to decorate his office and the back room for the holidays. It wasn’t exactly easy to make the place look festive, with big racks of clothes and employee lockers as a backdrop, but we did our best.

The kids put ornaments on two small trees and we strung a few strands of lights and hung a big wreath.

The real excitement was just visiting daddy at work. The kids were so excited, they woke up talking about it and cried when we had to leave. [And we actually visit his work pretty frequently.]

This was the first time JoElle has been to his store since she started walking. She LOVED exploring and just tottered back and forth down the hallway the whole time.

â™Ĩī¸ â™Ĩī¸ â™Ĩī¸

Karis

Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 1

Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 1

Our annual December tradition of 25 Days of Christmas Activities began today.

[We usually put up the tree and decorate on the first, but I worked in the morning and Brett will be working until midnight, so we did our decorating yesterday.]

To kick things off, the kids and I created a countdown to Christmas paper chain. It’s hanging on our chalkboard and currently reaches the floor. Each day we will take a link off the chain so the kids can get a visual of how many days left until Christmas.

[This is super handy because I have to convince them every morning that it’s not Christmas yet.]

We also made snowmen ornaments for the tree. [They were leftover crafts from last year.]

The kids watched A Charlie Brown Christmas and we brought out our collection of Christmas books and read a lot of beloved holiday stories that we haven’t seen in a year.

And now I’m addressing our Christmas cards.

I debated whether I should send Christmas cards this year, because of going “green” and all that, but it is a tradition that I love.

At least they aren’t printed on photo paper so they can be recycled… 🤷‍♀ī¸

Happy December, ya’ll!!!

🎄 🎄 🎄

Karis

Simple Living in November

Simple Living in November

This month has been the simplest of my life – due mostly to the fact that I have been so sick from this pregnancy [oh, yes, I’m thirteen weeks pregnant, by the way] that I have barely left the couch. In the whole month, I have only been grocery shopping once, I did the dishes twice, and I think I only prepared a grand total of three dinners, two of which consisted of a box of pasta and a jar of sauce.

[My husband always is, but especially this month has been my savior, doing the cooking and cleaning and grocery shopping and meal planning and many other household tasks that are usually my responsibility – all on top of the busiest month of the year at his job. Thank you, babe, and I love you.😘]

We reverted to some of our old ways – buying bread at the store because I could barely stomach the thought of making anything in the kitchen, buying other convenience foods like [egad!] Kraft Mac & Cheese, and even buying our oats in boxes rather than taking the trip to Whole Foods for package free dry goods.

What can I say?

Sometimes it’s about survival.

I didn’t set any simple living goals this month because I knew I was not going to be feeling great. As a result, I had no expectations for the month whatsoever – no time outdoors goals or thirty minutes of reading goals or creativity goals – just the goal to take the day as it comes and be grateful for it.

But I am happy to report that we had a nice, simple month of peace and quiet at home [besides the usual craziness that goes on with three children four and under]. We celebrated Thanksgiving together as just our little family of five [the first time in our marriage that we didn’t see any extended family for the holiday]. We added to our Gratitude Tree, which is now quite full and beautiful.

I made homemade thank you cards for Brett to give to his employees for Employee Appreciation week.

We made the switch to bar shampoo, eliminating another source of plastic packaging from our home. 👍đŸģ

We did go to the library several times – even checked out a new branch near our home. We went for a few [very short] walks outside. We played in the snow and sledded down the hill in our backyard [and by “we” I mean mostly the kids]. We made homemade hot chocolate.

I read The Live Earth Global Warming Survival Handbook by David de Rothschild [truthfully, I only read half of it because reading made me super nauseous and I had to return it to the library but I will check it out again and finish it]. I started putting some of the suggestions into practice – unplugging unused electronics, lowering the temperature in the house, turning off all the lights, etc.

Its a good read – simple, to the point, entertaining, AND educational. I didn’t grow up in an environment where global warming was viewed as a real thing so I’ve been soaking up information like a sponge.

I’m feeling much better these days [thank goodness!] Yesterday, I baked two loaves of whole wheat bread, cooked chickpeas and used the beans to make hummus and the cooking liquid to make vegan meringue.

I think I’m about back to normal. 😆

Karis

Our Gratitude Tree

Our Gratitude Tree

I love November. I love the fall. I love the cool weather. I love the leaves. I love Thanksgiving.

Of course, I think we should be grateful all year, and I think it’s about a lot more than just saying something your thankful for at Thanksgiving dinner. Gratitude is really a lifestyle that results in contentment and generosity and fulfillment. At least, that’s what it’s done for me.

My chalkboard now says “Let our lives be full of thanks and giving,” which has become the theme for our entire year as we focused on what we have rather than what we don’t have and tried to give more rather than get more.

It’s been transformative.

I’m always trying to teach my kids the importance of gratitude, and this month we began what I hope will be an annual November tradition: the gratitude tree.

The kids and I talk about things we are grateful for each morning over breakfast and I write them all down and cut them out of construction paper and we attach them to the tree. Our table sits right next to this sliding door – which happened to be the only free space we had for the tree – and the kids have loved watching the tree accumulate leaves.

Each day I pick a theme to help them think of things. We started with people we are grateful for, then foods, then things we own, then things outside, etc. It’s been a really fun exercise and they are very thoughtful about their choices.

Today we talked about places we are thankful that we get to visit. My son said “visiting daddy at work” and “the beach” and my daughter said “Ikea” 😂 and “going to the movies with Auntie Paula.”

I think I am going to make these gratitude talks a permanent addition to our mornings – just without the leaves. We are running out of room on our tree already!

🍁 🍁 🍁

Karis

Simple Pleasures: Playing in the Snow

Simple Pleasures: Playing in the Snow

My two older kids were up at 6:30am screaming excitedly about the snow on the ground and convinced it was Christmas morning no matter how many times I told them that it wasn’t. After they hunted for their Christmas gifts and found none, they were pulling on their snow pants and snow boots and begging me to HURRY, as if the snow might melt in the next two minutes. I helped them with some zippers and scarves and also lent them each one of my gloves because they couldn’t find any and then let them loose in the backyard.

It wasn’t even 7am yet.

[Good ol’ Daylight Savings.]

And of course, it wasn’t long before they were calling for me to help them build a snowman. So I pulled boots on [over my sweatpants] and put on a coat and used a pair of thick socks for gloves [gotta do what you gotta do, you know] and went outside to play in the snow.

Being a parent is so much fun because it gives you full permission to embrace your inner child and get excited about the things you used to love as a kid, like trick-or-treating, raking big piles of leaves to jump in, driving to see the Christmas lights, and playing in the snow.

Sometime between age 16 and having kids of my own I started hating the snow. It was cold. It was slippery. It cause traffic and delays and blah blah blah.

Man, what the heck was I thinking?!

Snow is awesome!

We built a snowman. The snow was perfect for packing and we did it the old-fashioned way: by rolling snowballs around the yard [occasionally rebuilding them when Daisy destroyed them] until they were the right size [or we got sick of restarting because of Daisy – which is why they are so small].

We threw snowballs at Daisy. We caught snowflakes on our tongues. The kids made snow angels, but I was wearing sweatpants so I wasn’t about to lie down in the snow [I haven’t embraced my inner child quite to that extent yet]. When we finally came inside, the kids had hot chocolate before we even had breakfast.

It was a special morning. The first snowfall of the season.

Reminded me of how much I used to love the snow and…honestly, I think it’s growing on me again.

❄ī¸ ❄ī¸ ❄ī¸

Karis