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Our New Thanksgiving Tradition- by Brandi

Since I have been a mom each holiday holds a more special place in my heart. I get to experience and witness each celebration through the eyes and excitement of my almost six year old and ten month old. We get to spend the day together as a family.

As a mom, it also has become incredibly important to me to focus on the “TRUE” reason for each holiday.  I want my boys to know WHY we are celebrating.   I want the reason to be more important than the day off school or big expensive gifts. I want my children to know the history and spirit of each and every holiday, but of course with our own Family W twist.

When Dylan woke up at his normal 7:00am on the dot we read Thanksgiving Is For Giving Thanks to set the grateful mood. And then we did a something a little silly... we mashed up the holidays to create our new Thanksgiving tradition.

Dylan loves is obsessed with Easter (even more so than Christmas).  The coloring off eggs.  The Easter egg hunt.  The jellybeans.  He just loves it all. He talks about Easter throughout the year, and often asks to color eggs.  A few days before Thanksgiving, Dylan said “I wish it was Easter instead of Thanksgiving.” I thought why not mash it up. Incorporate his favorite holidays while staying true to Thanksgiving, and so we did...

We colored eggs.

Coloring Eggs1

We pulled out those cheap plastic eggs.  Dylan picked out his favorite color ones green, orange, and blue.  Leaving me with the purple, pink, and yellow ones.

And here is where the Thanksgiving part comes in. Denny (the husband) and I filled Dylan’s eggs with notes of things we are so very grateful for.  Dylan filled our eggs with the things that he is so very grateful for.  Then we each respectively hid the eggs we wrote our notes in for the other to find. 

Grateful Eggs1

As we found the eggs we excitedly cracked them open to see what the other was grateful for. Dylan took a long time putting much thought into what he wrote.  And when I cracked his eggs I found that he was incredibly sweet. And gracious. I cherish every single note. One even said he was grateful for living in the USA and being free.  Come. On. Precious. 

So as I sit here the morning after Thanksgiving, the first one up and already sipping on my coffee I reflect.  Reflect how grateful I am that our family of four spent the entire day together. So happy that we’ve been able to spend more time together lately. Grateful that we got to visit two sides of our extended family.  Grateful that we got to nourish our healthy bodies with Thanksgiving deliciousness. Grateful that I get to type this from the comfort of our home in a safe neighborhood. Yes so very grateful for so many things, including the creation of our family’s special and silly new Thanksgiving tradition.

What are your Thanksgiving traditions?



Holiday Madness

It's that time of year again! The holidays are upon us and for some of us, that means the sheer craziness of deciding where to go when. For my family that's a particular task. I have divorced parents, in laws, siblings in from out of town, and a lot of birthdays. So we joke that once Thanksgiving hits we will all see each other every weekend through January. That's pretty truthful ;) 

But for Thanksgiving and Christmas, where do you go? How do you make everyone happy? How do you split the time up? For me, this is pretty simple. Make yourself, your husband, and your kids the priority. No one thinks it's fun to pack up kids and try to everyone on one day! For Thanksgiving we just pick one place... it is different every year but we have come to the realization that we can't be everywhere. Our parents live over an hour from each other and it's just not practical- or fun. On Christmas we go to one parents house on Christmas Eve and the other on Christmas Day, but we always spend Christmas morning with just us at our house.

My friend Allie just wrote an entire post on this, which I loved, so I will reblog it here for you... She gave some great advice on avoiding the holiday drama! 

Take it away Allie:

"Are holidays a tad stressful for you with fitting everyone in and making everyone happy??
Funny Mike's holiday Ecard: Let's shake things up over the holidays by not constantly complaining about the holidays.
Jordan and I have both sets of parents divorced so have the ultimate hurdle to hop through on making it to all the holiday eventsand trying to fit it all in, while fitting in the needs of our children.
Before we had kids it would not phase us to just jump in the car and run here and there and everywhere, we could cover so much ground and didn't mind doing so. But throw in 1, 2, 3 and now 4 kids and things get trickier. We have learned a few things through the years and now the holidays are a breeze for us and also I think we do a good job of trying to get all our visits in! Here are a few tips to making the holidays not so stressful.
Holiday DATES.
This is one that I really do not get. I understand Thanksgiving is on a Thursday and Christmas is always the 25th, BUT, will it really make your time less important if you celebrate on a Friday or Saturday near those holidays? If your answer is yes, no offense you may need to rethink some things. Holidays are about spending time together with your loved ones, no matter how many hours or which date the calendar reads. We celebrate whenever we can, shoot I think we may even be celebrating "Christmas" with my parents when they are here when baby #4 arrives. And guess what, that is amazing to me. Having my parents here with our family and celebrating the love we all share and a good meal. Nothing gets better than that, no date or day of the week can change that. Therefore look at the calender and talk about other dates that may work other than the actual holiday date for you and your family to celebrate.
This doesn't just go for you and your husband, although that is the most important but also for your extended family. Switch off years for holidays if people are not willing to switch dates. Host the holiday at your house and invite both sides and knock it all out. I know this can be tricky with divorced families but for Easter we invite everyone, all our sets of parents and just go with it. It has yet to end with any drama, because thankfully our parents do well! haha! But hosting at your own home allows you to call all the shots, if you are not a great cook, ask people to bring things. Not every holiday has to be out of a Martha Stewart Livingmagazine. 
This really is so important for you and your husband. This topic can make people very bitter and resentful which is why having agame plan is key. Holidays are NOT WORTH fighting over. There are so many ways to avoid the drama. The last person you want to be arguing with is your husband and at the end of the day, some people are just arguing over a day or date. Hence why I mention celebrating on different days. You also need to keep lines of communication open with your parents and in-laws, let them know your ideas and struggles and they should help. My parents have been so fabulous about holidays and really helped us because at the end of the day they do not care when they see us, they just want to see us. So keep the lines of communication open with everyone.
Be Honest.
I guess this goes with communicate and shouldn't be too hard but for things to go smooth, be honest. If you really don't want to spend the night away from your home on Christmas, tell your husband, don't just go along with it and be pissy the whole day. No one wants to be around a couple who is arguing on the holidays. Buzz kill. Speak up at the start when you guys discuss the holiday plans, don't just brush it off. Being honest, not just in this aspect but in your marriage is so key. Your husband can not always read your mind. So, be sure to speak up....or at least don't complain when the plans go how you discussed because you did not choose to speak up and be honest. Trust me, I used to be the timid girl who never spoke up! 
Stick together.
Do not throw your spouse under the bus and say "this was his idea" or make snide remarks. Communicate from the start and stick to the plan. You are a united front together and made the decisions together. You did it in attempts to make everyone included happy so please do not throw your husband or wife under the bus. You are doing the best you can and trying to fit everyone in.
Those are really the tips we stick to. We plan early and give everyone heads up to make sure everyone knows our plans. I am very happy with our holiday game plan. We have been following the same one for the past few years and it works. This year is obviously kind of a cluster with throw baby #4 in right before Christmas but we will make it to as many events as humanly possible. 
What are your tips for making everyone happy?? Or avoiding the drama??"
HAPPY THANKSGIVING -- hope you all have a safe & happy holiday! 

Throw Back Thursday: Black Friday 2010

We thought it would be FUN to do a Throwback Thursday Post.  So we digged deep and found our Black Friday post from 3 years ago.  Enjoy...

“Shopping is a woman thing.  It’s a contact sport like football.  Women enjoy the scrimmage, the noisy crowds, the danger of being trampled to death, and the ecstasy of the purchases.” Erma B

Brandi Standing in line for hours in the cold. Crowded store with a bunch of insane people. Frantically searching through picked over shelves for the perfect toy.  Deprivation of sleep. And for what? To save a few measly bucks. No thank you. Not doing it. Not to mention I. AM. DONE. SHOPPING. and have been for weeks. I need nothing.  I am not going and you cannot make me.

Lisa I love to shop. In the morning, the afternoon, the night... Anytime. I also love Black Friday. I mean there is only one day a year you can shop all night long! Count me in. For me, it’s not even about the deals as much as the fun of it. I don't wait in line for the crazy electronics, I'd rather go to the clothing or shoe stores, and this year - toys r us. Every year I would go with my family, often my sisters who enjoy this day as much as I do. This year, they are all out of town. I decided to make Brandi go... She refused for a while but with a threat that she might be getting to old to stay out all night she was at my doorstep ready to go.

Danger Women Shopping

9:30 PM - Toys R Us Drive-by (Store opens at 10p) Holy Mother Crapola.  The line IS amazingly long.  Since we are the ONLY people daring enough to experience the shopping chaos without any end objectives (yep, we have nothing we specifically want) we decide we will wait a little bit. Because for some reason we thought it would get better.

Pre-Break We haven’t even started and we already need a break. Nick & Jimmy’s (local bar).  Quick shot and development of our brainstorm.  Brainstorm Let’s go to Best Buy to post for our blog. Blogging Genius. Camera equipped to record in hand we dash to Best Buy.

9:50ish PM Best Buy (Store opens at 5am) People are camped out.  No literally camped out.  Regular size tents and all.  We find our first victims to interview- a group of young guys residing in a said tent.  They were more concerned about getting our phone numbers than participating in our very serious (ha) interview.  However, they are def worth mentioning as they had a hookah (water pipe used to smoke) in their tent which was extremely amusing to us. Moving on to a more serious shopper: JB.  We were slightly apprehensive in our approach seeing that he was under a blue tarp (maybe sleeping) and we weren’t sure what to expect.  Lisa braved it out went in to knock (?) on the tarp when JB’s head popped out.

10:20ish PM Toys R Us Return Well the line changed a bit since we did our drive got increasingly longer.  On our high of interview success (and maybe second hand hookah smoke) we decided to get out and join the anticipating shoppers.  They were starting to let people in so that was promising. Right?  After an hour and half wait broken up by a McD hot coca and coffee run, relocating our car to a closer space, getting to know our line neighbors very well and conducing another interview we were IN. Now what??  Again we have no idea what we want, and really do NOT even need anything.  So we casually shop like there wasn’t a bunch of frantic moms and dads trying to run us over.  Lisa picks up some goodies for Colton and Dylan and Brandi’s hands are completely free as we venture to the line.  You need a flippin’ map to figure out the line.  It winds all through the store- it is like trying to find the beginning of a completely twisted undone toilet paper roll. Finally find it and settle in.  The wait: 30 to 45 minutes. No worries, Brandi didn’t leave empty handed.  While in line she found a Bubble Babble Decal Set. Yep two hours for a bunch of glorified stickers. We are next in line for the cash register when we realized we didn’t HAVE to wait in line.  We were in the line to be let in to the Electronics section.  Are You Kidding Me?

Toys R Us Verdict: Total Time (waiting + shopping), 2ish hours. Lisa bought 3 items, absolutely NONE of them on sale (so we could have bought them at any time) and Brandi got stickers. 

Break Time 2nd round Nick & Jimmy’s.  Starving.  Filled up on Spinach Artichoke Dip and ready to head back out.

12:40am Old Navy (Store opened at midnight) A little line but after waiting at Toys R Us we are pros.  After 20 minutes (which seems like nothing) We Are In.  Immediately we find some goodies.  Lisa got some presents out of the way and Brandi found some things for the husband and three year old. After canvassing the store and packing our shopping bags we venture to find the line.  Way worse than the Toys R Us line that we didn’t even need to wait in.  Way Worse.  This line was like waiting to ride the most popular roller coaster.  Completely insane.  After an hour we looked at each and said are we really going to keep waiting.  We forge ahead.  After two hours we asked are we really going to keep waiting.  We forge ahead.  Our feet hurt, our eyes hurt and trying to stay positive we attempt to try to keep ourselves occupied.  We waited three hours total. Half way through we did have a half hour of complete slap happiness.  Lisa was beyond entertained with a random Old Navy mannequins that had a real mint in its mouth.  Thinking the mannequins maker put this in our bubble was bursted when the person in front of us informed us crazy girls ahead put it in her mouth.  Oh.  And then this happened --- a Dance Revolution.  In the midst of the line was a XBox Kinect Dance Revolution game.  Oh we danced it out.

Finally after cashing out Brandi saved $33 dollars (totally not worth it) and her favorite thing was a $5 (which probably was $10 on a normal day) tank top and $7 (not on sale) slippers. Lisa saved $84 dollars. Yes, we are insane.

5:00am Home. 8 hours of Shopping + Just $100 Saved = Priceless Memories with your sister in law and hopefully an enjoyable blog for our readers.(This was three years ago.  Yes, we were as crazy then as we are now). Are you braving the crowds this year to shop?

Safe Shopping, Lisa & Brandi 



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