Avoiding the Holiday Hangover

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We all know the holiday hustle and bustle well. The months of October, November, and December are full of reasons to celebrate, which makes them my very favorite time of year.

There is one problem with this being my favorite time of year: I want to do ALL THE THINGS. You should see my Pinterest boards for Fall, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Full to the brim. And having too many ideas, like I do thanks to the lovely internet, usually leads to doing too many things in an already busy time of year.

I became particularly over-zealous about holiday activities once kids entered the picture. This Advent calendar and that Christmas countdown and all the baking and crafty ideas just had to be done or my kids would be deprived of a meaningful Christmas. Yep, that’s the lie I believed. And Christmas time became stressful, not joyful.

Last year, I wanted the joy back. I didn’t want to come to the end of the holiday season and be glad it was all finally over. It is one thing to pack the season full of memories and another thing to become crazy-obsessed-stressed super Christmas mom who doesn’t take time to savor the season for herself. Memories get lost in the stress.


Avoiding the holiday hangover – where you feel like you’ve been put through the ringer instead of celebrating the birth of our Savior – starts with admitting you have a problem. No, this is not a self-help book, but I needed to wake up and see the stress I was experiencing and causing with all of my good Christmas ideas. Too much good is still too much.

The second step for me was being intentional, and more specifically, intentionally saying no. I adore all of the Advent calendars and devotions that have been created for kids and families. I will probably sharing lots of them with you. But we don’t do ALL of them every year and neither should you. Before the seasons starts, evaluate your options and pick a devotion or calendar that suits the ages and stages of your kids. Because we have two elementary-age boys and one preschooler, we may do two different devotions this year to fit their levels. That’s where I draw the line. Make your own line and stick to it!

Why do I feel the need to be so strict with myself? I’ve found that on my way to giving myself a holiday hangover, I leave no room for what God might bring our way during the Christmas season. I don’t savor the moments because I’m always trying to check something off the list. I want to breathe and notice and celebrate this magical time of year.

As I have been reading through Savor, a daily devotional by Shauna Niequist, I have been struck by the detail in which she can describe seemingly ordinary moments and, in doing so, makes them sound life-changing. All because she was really paying attention and living in that moment. These devotions have led me to see so much beauty in the daily things and I don’t want to lose that in the midst of Christmas hurry. I want these holiday moments to be more vivid, more full of life and joy. I want them to be moments that make me smile when all is said and done.

No holiday hangover for me this year. And you can choose the same. Join me in drawing a line, leaving room for joy, and savoring this Advent season!

What will you + your family do or NOT do in order to avoid the holiday stress hangover this year?


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5 Ways to Win the Day On a Snow Day!

I was compensated by Nestle for this post, including product to review. I have included affiliate and referral links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson! All opinions are 100% my own.

It’s going to happen. I just know it is. The boys are in school this year and we live in Nebraska, so we will have a snow day and I want to be prepared.

We used to homeschool, so a snow day meant a normal day of school for us, but all of that has changed this year. If the boys are home for a snow day, we won’t be doing any school work! Since snow days could pop up unexpectedly, I’m making a game plan right now so I’m not caught off guard looking for something fun to do!

When coming up with a game plan to win the day on a snow day, consider your child’s interests and activities you find fun as well! Snow days are a chance for us to enjoy unexpected extra time with the kiddos and great memories can be made.

Here are five ways we’re planning to win the day on a snow day!

Snow Day

Get Outside

We’ve had a few snow days that were just too cold for outdoor play, but as long as the wind chill is not dangerous, we’ll be playing in the snow! Now is the time to make sure everyone has snow gear that fits, sleds are out of storage, and all the supplies for snowman building are on hand. I finally bought myself some real snow boots this year, so I’ll bundled up playing with my boys!

Warm Snacks

There is nothing better in this world than coming in from playing in the snow to enjoy hot chocolate and warm cookies. I feel all cozy and happy just thinking about it right now! Stock your pantry with hot chocolate packets and make some cookie dough to keep in the freezer – this will leave more time for fun when that snow day arrives.
Jack's Pizza Snow Day Art

Art, Art, Art

Our kids love to draw, paint, color – just about anything artistic! They could spend hours being creative and that sounds like a perfect (mostly) quiet activity for a snow day. Before the cold and snow arrive, I’m checking our art supplies to make sure we have plenty of paper, paint, crayons, etc. We also have several great drawing books, like this one from Ed Emberley, that I save for days like this as something special to do. Art time can be for Mom, too! Adult coloring books are fun and relaxing – this is one of my favorites!

Movie Time

We are a family who loves to watch movies together. We often snuggle up on the couch, turn on the fireplace, pop some popcorn, and enjoy a good movie. This sounds like the perfect snow day activity to me! And sometimes we pair movie time with an…

Jack's Pizza Snow Day Picnic

Indoor Picnic

Our boys get super excited when we put a blanket down in the living room and have an indoor picnic. It’s a simple thing, but they love it so much! They also love pizza, so I have my freezer stocked with Jack’s Pizza to pull out for a snow day picnic in the living room.

Jack's Pizza Snow Day

Jack’s Pizza is a great choice for a snow day because it is easy to make, delicious, and a great value – what more could you want?!

Jack's Pizza Snow Day Pizza

It is made in the Midwest with 100% real Wisconsin cheese and a preservative-free crust, so you can feel good about gathering around a few Jack’s Pizzas on a cold, snowy day!

I’m not crazy about ice, wind chills, and dangerous roads, but these ideas still have me excited for our first snow day of the year! We will be ready for family fun as the snow accumulates!


Snow day or not, our lives as moms are BUSY. Even getting food on the table for dinner can be a challenge. This week, I’ll be talking with Jack’s Pizza for a Twitter party to share an easy way moms can win the day. Join us for the fun and you could win! Here are the details:

  • When: Wednesday, November 11 at 1 p.m. CT
  • Where: We’ll be on Twitter – follow the #RealCheeseRealLife hashtag to track the conversation. You can see the details and RSVP via this Vite: http://vite.io/themotherhoodchats
  • Hashtag: #RealCheeseRealLife
  • Prizes: We will be giving away four prizes to randomly selected participants who answer the trivia questions correctly. Each prize includes a $50 Visa gift card. Prizes limited to U.S. participants only. See official rules.
  • Hosts: @TheMotherhood, @TMChatHost, @CooperMunroe, @EmilyMcKhann

Hope to see you at the party – maybe you’ll be one of the big winners!

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Kid-Created Lego Snowboard Course!

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The boys would build with Legos non-stop if we let them. They may make a huge mess, but I LOVE the creativity that comes out in their Lego building!

Big J watched some of the X Games a few weeks back and caught snowboard fever. He’s never snowboarded before, but between the X Games, watching YouTube videos of Shaun White, our study of the upcoming Olympics, and the Disney movie Cloud Nine, snowboarding is totally on his mind. And it has showed up in his Lego building as well!

Check out his Lego snowboard course…

Lego Snowboard Course

Lego Snowboard Course Full

Lego Snowboard Course Side

The boarder is a storm trooper, obviously, because he looks like he’s wearing a snowsuit, mask, and goggles.

Lego Snowboard Course Boarder

And that’s his white, green, and red snowboard underneath him, sitting atop the course waiting for the go signal! I love all the details he added, like the flames as spotlights for night competition!

Lego Snowboard Course Boarder Side
There are also reporters on the course, a special second course, and a special snowmobile taking reporters around the course! I just had to share this and Big J was pretty excited when I told him I was blogging about it! I think it’s like an extra fist bump 🙂

If you couldn’t tell, we’re TOTALLY ready for the Winter Olympics around here!  My friend Stef and her son are ready as well with these AWESOME Lego Brick Olympics creations! My boys are so excited to try them! They already love the Winter Brick Activities ebook – perfect for these cold, snow days!

Are your kids excited about the Winter Olympics? Which Winter Olympic sports interest them most?

*This post and creation is not affiliated with, sponsored, or endorsed by The Lego Group or The Olympics.

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Winter Accessories Clearance at Cents of Style!

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

This is such a fun Fashion Friday because there is something for everyone! Well, maybe not if you live in Arizona or Florida…

Today is a major winter accessories clearance at Cents of Style! All winter items are 60% off and shipping is free when you use the code WINTER8 at checkout!

IMAGE: Fashion Friday- 1/17/14- Winter Accessory Clearance- 60% off with Code WINTER8
All hats, scarves, and gloves are under $10 shipped! And boots are under $20 shipped! Sizes are limited for the boots, but if they have your size, you’ll be getting a GREAT deal!

IMAGE: Fashion Friday- 1/17/14- Winter Accessory Clearance- 60% off with Code WINTER8
We’re still deep in the middle of winter here, so it’s not too late to get some fabulous winter accessories at even more fabulous prices! Don’t forget the code WINTER8 at checkout!

What is your favorite winter accessory?


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Getting Ready with All Things Christmas!

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I know, I know, we’re not officially past Thanksgiving yet, but the countdown to Christmas is getting so close, so I wanted to point you towards a few of our favorite Christmas items so you can get them now!

Truth in the Tinsel cover_b1-300x253

1. Truth in the Tinsel

This will be our third year going through Amanda White’s Truth in the Tinsel for Advent. It is such a simple, but powerful way to get children excited about the birth of Jesus. We’ve done the ornaments crafts included in the ebook which are SO cute. We’ve done the printable ornaments that are perfect for when you are short on time. And we’ve also done the Lego version suggested by Stef Layton which really captured the older boys’ attention! It really can be adaptable for lots of ages! When you use the code theboys at checkout, you can get 20% off your ebook purchase! {only good for a discount on the ebook, not ornaments or curriculum}


2. Winter Brick Activities

Speaking of Stef Layton and Legos, the biggest hit at our house these days has been the brick activities ebooks put together by Stef and her oldest son! We loved Fall Brick Activities, and now Winter Brick Activities is available for a whole lot of indoor fun! And, in the spirit of giving, 50% of the proceeds will be donated to Samaritan’s Purse Clean Water Programs! The Fall Brick Activities ebook is only 99¢ right now, and when you use the code BeMerry at checkout, you can get $1 off Winter Brick Activities, making it only $3.99! That’s two brick activity ebooks for only $4.98!

25 Songs of Christmas Sacred Final25 Songs of Christmas Secular Final25 Songs of Christmas Mixed Final

3. 25 Songs of Christmas free printables

I LOVE Christmas music, so a few years ago I started teaching the boys a new Christmas song every day for the 25 days of December leading up to Christmas. It was so fun, so I thought I would share it with all of you with a free printables! I posted these last year, but this is just your friendly reminder to print them out now so you’re ready for December 1st! I made three different versions: sacred songs only, secular songs only, and a mixture of sacred + secular! I hope your family enjoys them as much as we do! {click on the links above to download the one or two or three you want to save and print}

We’ll be directing our home for Christmas Thursday afternoon and Friday as per family tradition and I. CAN’T. WAIT. It really is a magical {but short} time of year!

How are you getting ready for Christmas?

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What I Wore: Winter Storm Warning

That’s right. We have a winter storm warning issued for this afternoon. For those of you who don’t live around this kind of weather, that means snow, wind, and COLD.

Don’t worry, I’m prepared…

I have my favorite warm GAP sweater, a cozy cowl, Old Navy Diva dark jeans, and the warmest Kalso Earth Prance Boots

And I tend to be a worrier when storms approach, so I threw on my Lisa Leonard “It Is Well With My Soul” necklace as a reminder that everyone I love is in His hands!

As a side note, did you know emerald green is the color of the year for 2013 according to Pantone? Well, as a green lover and descendant of the Irish, that just makes me super happy. I will wear my emerald green proudly!

What do you like to cozy up in when the weather outside is frightening?

{Linking up with What I Wore Wednesday at The Pleated Poppy!}


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Big, Beautiful {Paper} Snowflakes! {Tutorial}

No real snow around here yet, so the boys and I spent the morning making different kinds of paper snowflakes! We did some of your basic fold-and-cut variety, but then I decided to get a little craftier.

My friend Donna made some beautiful snowflakes for a MOPS Christmas party a few years back and I knew I wanted a few of them hanging up in the house this winter! They were really much simpler than I remembered – I think you’ll have fun with them!

Here’s what you need:

Supplies: Paper, scissors, tape and/or stapler

I used regular copy paper, but you coud you wrapping paper, scrapbook paper, anything! The important thing is to have six equal-sized SQUARE pieces of paper. If your paper is NOT already a square, it’s easy to make the squares…

After you have your square pieces, fold the paper in half once to make a triangle, then in half once more to make a smaller triangle. Just two folds!

Now to cut…

You will be making three cuts, spaced equally, cutting PARALLEL to the longest side of the triangle.

Start at the folded short side and move towards the open short side. DO NOT cut all the way through – I left about a 1/2 inch uncut.

This is what it will look like after you cut, first while folded and then unfolded…

Pretty painless so far, right? Let’s keep moving!

You’ll need tape for this next part. Some tutorials mention glue with this project, but I think it is too messy and doesn’t dry fast enough!

Starting with the smallest square, bring the two points together and tape so they form a roll.

Now, FLIP YOUR PAPER OVER. Do the same thing with the next square, bringing the two points together and taping them.

FLIP YOUR PAPER AGAIN. Tape the next square in a roll.

And, you guessed it, FLIP THE PAPER one last time and tape the points of the outside square in a roll.

This is what it will look like when you are done…

Doesn’t that look fancy?! Way to go! You’ve completed one part! Now do everything I just said five more times!

{I’ll wait while you finish.}

You should have six “arms” of the snowflake now – time to put them together! This is where I prefer to staple because tape doesn’t get all of the layers as well…

Line up the points of three of the “arms” and staple them together! Do the same with the other three “arms.”

The two sets of three now need to be joined to become one snowflake…

I used the stapler for this part, as well as for the last step…

Each arm needs to be joined to the arms on either side of it to achieve the full, fanned out look! Notice in the picture above how I’ve just brought the sides of two together – put another staple there, repeat all the way around, and here you go…

Big J proudly helped me along the way – folding this, holding that, and so on – so I let him show it off to all of you!

I realize it may seem like a lot of directions, but this was our second one of the day and it went super fast! It really isn’t that hard and gets even easier the more times you do it!

The first one we made has already found its place hanging near the Christmas tree…

I think I’ll whip up a few more to hang around the house because they are Just. So. Pretty. And can you imagine them made with some sparkly wrapping paper?! Gorgeous!

Make a few this weekend and turn your home into an INDOOR winter wonderland!

{Please let me know if you have any questions – I tried to be as clear as possible, but I’m happy to help if anything is confusing!}

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January Hopscotch

No, there is not anything special about January Hopscotch – just the fact that we were actually playing hopscotch in January!

The groundhog will be making his “prediction” today, but our forecast says snow is supposed to be coming this weekend, so we will have fun in the sun while can!

And those cute little tongues sticking out when they are concentrating so hard? Love.

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Oh, the Weather Outside… {Part 2}

Remember that 68-degree, record-breaking day I mentioned yesterday?

That was Thursday. January 5th. In Nebraska. Just making sure everyone understands the facts.

After we were done with school for the day, the whole family headed out on a golf cart to watch the hubby play nine holes and enjoy the BEAUTIFUL weather…

{Obviously, I took pictures the whole time.}

Can’t beat a gorgeous day with my handsome guys!

The weather won’t be quite as lovely this weekend, but we’re looking forward to lots of family time – and probably some more organizing!

What are you up to this weekend?

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Oh, the Weather Outside… {Part 1}

January in Nebraska would normally justify the singing of “Let It Snow.”

Yesterday, the high was 68.

Highs have been in the uppers 40s, 50s, and even 60s for weeks now and we are taking full advantage of the DELIGHTFUL weather!

This was a little outing the boys and I took to our local nature center on New Year’s Eve morning…

{and a fun chance to play around with my new camera!}

I think winter forgot to show up, but were not complaining!

Tomorrow you can see how we spent the record-high day yesterday!

What’s the weather like where you live?

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