Operation Christmas Child

I always feel like this day is the start of holiday season, as crazy of a day as it typically is. For the past several years my Mom, sister, and I load up all five kids and head to Target on Saturday to go shopping for Operation Christmas Child. It is usually slightly chaotic and the kids may have been trying to load almost life-sized stuffed animals into the shopping cart at one point, but it is a great way to teach them about helping others.

Here is an idea of what we typically pick out (go here for a full list of what you can and cannot pack):

 

We typically get:

– A stuffed animal

– Socks

– A bar of soap and holder

– Colored pencils and pencil sharpener

– Toothbrush

– Fun bandaids

– Uno Card Game

– Fidget spinner

– Small plastic animals

– Notepad

National collection week is this week! You can go here to find a collection spot in your area.

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‘Tis the season

While we are not putting up the Christmas tree just yet, I’ve been busy ordering some updates to our holiday decor. Last year I waited and almost didn’t get a few items I had on my list. I went back through my Christmas decor pictures from past years (because what is having a blog if not to keep a virtual scrapbook of things like this), and focused in on a few areas that I wanted to add some additional decorations or update items that have gotten worn looking. I also added several new holiday storybooks because one of our favorite parts of the holiday season is reading our collection of Christmas stories as many times as possible between the day after Thanksgiving and January 1st.

As per usual, Target doesn’t disappoint with their holiday decorations and I found quite a few items from their collections:

Including a tiered stand for our high counter, garland for the mirror over our mantle, and new plates for my plate rack:

A pom pom wreath, and cheery pillows:

A cozy throw, tablecloth, and wooden centerpiece:

And I always search for a few pieces from Anthropologie including little monogram ornaments to go inside the wreaths on the boys’ doors, a silly towel, and a stack of holiday coffee mugs:

And new Christmas plates, red plaid garland, and shams from Pottery Barn kids:

And our new stack of holiday books:

How have we not read The Best Christmas Pagent Ever? It’s been so long since I’ve read it, I’m going to read it first, and then pass it on to A and then to J.

Walk this World is a beautiful pop up book with Christmas celebrations around the world, the illustrations are lovely, and the boys love books that have facts woven in.

Construction Site on Christmas Night because we love Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site and what’s better than construction vehicles setting up Christmas decorations?

And finally, The Nutcracker retold with illustrations from The New York City Ballet. I love The Nutcracker and the whimsy of the drawings.

And now I’ve just got to figure out where to store everything until after Thanksgiving!

 

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Favorite Christmas Corners

Our mantle and ever growing set of lighted animals:


Including a narwhal:

Our kitchen hutch with candies, popcorn bowls, and cocoa mugs:

Our Christmas tree filled with family ornaments:

Including my very favorite:

My little plant corner:

All of our Christmas books that we are reading:

And a sassy llama dressing up our front porch:

 

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J’s Christmas Party

This was J’s last Christmas performance in his last year of pre-K! Sniff. I can hardly believe it. I am so thankful for his wonderful preschool teacher, and preschool director who convinced him to actually smile for this picture:J Christmas Party

Because a lot of the pictures I got were more like this:

J Christmas PartyPensive stare in the distance, while he waits patiently for everyone to be served before eating his pizza.

And here is one from his singing performance:

Patiently waiting to sing “Up on the Housetop”.

Love this sweet boy and that I get to spend Christmas parties with him (especially this one because it only required bringing juice and showing up, ha!).

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Santa’s Village 2016

Our original plan to visit Santa’s Village was rained out, so we headed out on what turned out to be a bitterly cold, yet very fun adventure to see Santa.

While the guys held our place in line, the boys decorated gingerbread cookies….

Santa's Village 2016

And took pictures with their cookies…

Santa's Village 2016

And posed for other pictures doing things like this:

Santa's Village 2016 Santa's Village 2016 Santa's Village 2016 Santa's Village 2016

Oh and one like this…

Santa's Village 2016

And after a bit more waiting, we saw Santa!

Santa's Village 2016 Santa's Village 2016J asked for a Qixel 3-D maker & a scarf, A asked for a Pokemon Elite Trainer Box & a Nintendo Store Card

Afterwards we made ornaments…

Santa's Village 2016

And took a few family photos…

Santa's Village 2016Santa's Village 2016 Santa's VillageAnd then we headed to Buena Vista (one of our local favorite Mexican restaurants) and had a terrific, late dinner! The boys are now anticipating their gifts from Santa!

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The return of Link

Elf on the shelfLink made his yearly appearance this past week. Hurray for four weeks of jumping up at 6 a.m. realizing he is still hanging out in the same spot from the day before. This guy causes me nothing but trouble. However, the boys sure do love him! Here’s a bit more of our yearly “welcome Link” tradition…

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A tour of our Christmas decor

Join me around our house! I’ve been steadily adding to our Christmas decorations each year, and I’m loving how everything turned out this year. I’m not the best at decorating, but I’m learning slowly (layering, creating visual points, etc.). The boys’ excitement over the decorations make it worth while. Oh and if you need help decorating quickly, have J come over. He will bustle behind you until you are finished, saying things like “why are you sitting down?” and “keep decorating!!”

First up, our entry way!

I love the idea of combining what you have already with some Christmas updates…

holiday decor

And I was beyond thrilled to find these cotton stems from one of my favorite local shops (Mint Julep Marketplace), to include in the Target vase I had been eyeing:

Holiday Decor

And then we dressed up our little reading nook in the living room:

Reading nook

And our mantel is fresh and new with accents from Kirklands (that mirror was 20 dollars!!):

Mantel DecorMantel Decor Mantel DecorThe bottle brush trees are from Hobby Lobby and I’m going to tell you, they are a glittery mess. But they look awesome!

And here is a close-up of our tree. Take a good look, because this guy is about to be replaced. We have to string lights that work around the middle of the tree because the pre-lit portion stopped working. Last year. No judgement.

Christmas Tree

The layering detail was a tip I picked up from the mantel link I posted with my Friday Favorites two weeks ago:

Stocking layering

And this year we added in a fox to our random lighted animal collection:

Christmas DecorI cannot even express to you the hilarity of this set-up. The Bible does discuss behemoth animals, so I’m pretty sure this is what they were talking about.

Let’s move on to the kitchen, shall we?

Immediately upon posting this, I noticed that one of my candle wraps has slipped down, and my A-typeness cannot handle that, so I’m fixing it now…

Christmas Decor

I love the incorporation of the metal canvas with the cookie print that’s a staple in our house.

Holiday Decor

And our Christmas card holder is ready to go…

img_0923

And my wall swag:

Christmas Decor

And my wreath that I made a few years ago with my sister and Mom:

Christmas Decor

And our cookie holder and Christmas countdown snowman:

Cookies & Counting

And that’s it! I’ve got my eye on these pieces from Anthropologie to complete a few areas:

Christmas Extras

And then it’s on to wrapping presents! Happy decorating!

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Painted snowflakes

While at Target insisting we “NEEDED” more holiday decorations, J found large wooden snowflakes and declared that they would be perfect for his and A’s doors. A agreed they were a great idea and I set them up one evening with their wooden snowflakes and a host of acrylic paints:

Painted Snowflakes

I love that they rarely go for typical Christmas colors. They wanted every primary color, silver, bronze, white, and black:

Painted snowflakes

Ten minutes later, they were all done!

Painted Snowflakes

After leaving them to dry overnight, I added them to their door with the included twine, and a little monogram ornament over the top. Perfection!

Painted snowflakes

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A gift list for the girl seeking a headband that doesn’t slide off

Gift list for the girlHeadband slippage is a real thing, y’all.

The set you’ll use every day:

Naked Palate

To upgrade from the save the tigers lunchbox I’ve been using:

 

LunchboxI’m becoming more fond of print and am mindful of the difference of looking at a magazine while the boys read, versus looking at my phone.

Journal

Perfect flats that elevate your outfit and become a new neutral:

Flats

 

I’m 99% positive A will get me these pens:

Pens

Bible study with a defined direction is right up my alley:

Bible

For Saturday morning breakfast:

And finally, my favorite of the signet bag thus far:

 

 

Bag

 

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