Thursday, December 31, 2020

Out of Town Christmas

We headed out of town to spend Christmas with our families.  We've done this for 16 years and this year we made it happen.  Covid complicated things and nothing seemed finalized until right before it happened, but I'm so glad we made the trip.  

We introduced and shared Leo with family that he hasn't seen much of this year.  Some family members met him for the first time.  We also got to spend quality time with grandparents, great grandparents, family and all the cousins.  It was a nice trip and we came home exhausted (Mostly due to a teething baby who didn't sleep great at night and didn't sit still when he was awake.  Thank heavens for him napping great on the go!)

We love living just 2 hours from family.  It's a doable drive and the boys usually nap on the way.  We've lived across the country requiring a flight or two, 7 hours away and 9 hours away so 2 hours away is wonderful! 

 Leo was all smiles when mom or dad was holding him and leery of new people.  Sweet 2020 baby.

Their VERY loved Great Grandparents.  They loved showing them their baby dolls, their new Nerf guns and no one makes better No Bake Cookies than Grandma.  We all love these two!

And the children were all nestled in their beds while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.  Kevin's mom had our room all decked out with Santa hats for the kids, new sleeping bags under the tree and Christmas candy.

We stayed with Kevin's parents and mine.  The kids ate their weight in sweets and holiday treats at both places.

My parent's house was all decked out for Christmas.  The cousins were so excited to exchange the gifts they'd purchased for each other.

My friend Jacque hosted the sweetest Christmas breakfast for us!  Her house looked beautiful and breakfast was delicious.  It was so nice to get to introduce them to Leo and catch up while the kids ran around like crazy :)

The cousins love getting to sit together at their own tables.

My Mom's Christmas dinner is my favorite meal of the year!  It wouldn't be a Heilman gathering if we didn't have a couple different potato options.

We loaded up the van which was filled to the brim and headed home.  Full van.  Full hearts.

Christmas 2020, you were a good one.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Christmas at Home

Hey, friends!  I ended up with a little free time and wanted to get my Christmas posts up before the end of the year.  

We had a wonderful Christmas at home before traveling to see our families.  We made an arrangement with Santa once we had kids for him to come to our house early every year.  He usually texts me on the 22nd to see if it would be okay for him to come on the 23rd.  The kids always say YES and we get busy preparing for his arrival - cookies, treats, milk, carrots and reindeer food for the reindeer.  Olive left a detailed note for Santa filled with questions per usual.

The kids went to bed in their Christmas pjs and were very excited for Santa to come.  Kevin and I worked together to get everything wrapped the night before.  It was fun - we picked a different wrapping paper for each child and left the Santa gits unwrapped by the fireplace.

The big kids woke up way before the sun and made them go back to bed.  They got up when the sun got up.  We woke Leo up to join them.

Olive was THRILLED to get American girl dolls and accessories plus some surprises.  She couldn't open her gifts fast enough.

Fletcher loved his Nerf guns, new camo gear and army guys.

Leo loved the wrapping paper and would have been fine with one gift and a pile of wrapping paper.  He wasn't sure why we kept bothering him with opening his gifts.

Kevin and I exchanged gifts, too.

I look forward to Dec 23rd all year long.  It's a day just for our family to focus on Christmas.  We don't have to leave the house and stay in our pjs as long as we want.  The kids get to play all day.  I bake and I'd love to add in a mini birthday cake for Jesus next year.  If you also live out of town from your family, I'd highly recommend claiming certain days just for your own family and your own traditions.

Hooray for Christmas break!

I hope you had a sweet Christmas with your own families!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

I hope you have a fabulous holiday with your friends and family.  I'm guessing this year that many celebrations will look different.  That's okay - don't let it dampen your Christmas spirit too much - try to slow down and make time for the things you love no matter what.

I thought I'd put some of my favorite Christmas pictures in one place and leave you with some links for fun things to do over Christmas break below.

Take care.  Wishing you a happy, healthy holiday season.

Thanks for being here and for supporting my family.  Love, Whitney


Plus a few Christmas fun ideas that you could pull together fast for your family or friends!

This recipe is amazing!  And it makes the most beautiful Peanut Butter Swirl Bark

My kids love these:

Christmas Doodle Town from Momfessionals - FREE printable!

Color Your Own Nativity from Momfessionals - FREE printable!

And my favorite DIY of the season - Hand Print Santa Ornaments!  

I'm going to be taking a Christmas break to focus on my family and Christmas cheer!  

See you back here next year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Inviting Your Kids to Help with Christmas

As my kids are getting older, I'm trying to incorporate them into our holiday planning.

The kids are often at the center of all the holiday fun events and activities, but it's different now that they are older.

They've got big thoughts, ideas and plans about what they'd like to do.  I'm trying to ask for their help with Christmas activities, include them in our planning and ask their input.  None of these things comes natural to me.  I'm probably best described as "bossy with a smile" and in my mind there's a right way to do all the things.  I like to be efficient and organized in everything I do.  All of those qualities are great sometimes and not so great other times.  

My tendency to do everything myself can rob the kids of the joy of learning new things.  

I have to remind myself of this fact often.  I have been better this holiday season about including them and slowing down to teach them new things.  It's been good for all of us.

Here are some ways to include your kids in your Christmas:

These are their favorite jobs from the season so far.  

*Kids ages 4 & 7 and most of these things were new experiences for them.

1. Christmas Cookie Delivery Team

Whenever I bake treats to giveaway I try to limit the little hands touching the food.  I want the food we gift to be touched as little as possible.  This year I did all the baking for neighbors and friends.  I consulted them on the cookie menu and then they were a great little delivery crew.  They got a lot of joy out of ringing doorbells, saying Merry Christmas and giving out plates of cookies.

2. Decorators

I relinquished control of the decorating in several areas this year.  I gave them the jobs and they took their jobs very seriously.  They were in charge of setting up all the nativities.  This one is my favorite.  I love that everyone has their eyes on baby Jesus. The big kids also decorated their Christmas tree and Leo's with just a little help from me.

3. Spa Goers

The idea of having a spa day at home came up on their Christmas break to do list.  We've never done one before and have had the best time carrying out their plans.  We adapted it a bit to do several spa treatments each day over the week.  So far we have done a foot bath with Orbeez beads - that was hilarious.  Then we did cucumbers on their eyes, warm wash cloths and fun smelling lotions.  Don't forget the relaxing spa play list.  We still have manis/pedis, massages, hair styles and foot rubs on their wish list.  We set out yoga mats, used our bathroom towels and this brought them so much joy.

4. Donut Hunters

Our favorite local donut place - Square Donuts - offers Christmas donuts this time of year.  The only catch is that you have to get there early to get them.  We've tried and failed a few times.  Yesterday, we swung through the drive through and had Christmas tree donut success!  They were SO excited!  It was a fun adventure to work on together.

5. Bakers

I make cinnamon rolls by myself regularly.  Yesterday they asked to help.  I gave them important jobs and they were so excited to be cinnamon roll helpers.

6. Cheesers

We were driving around looking at lights at the park.  Mrs Mouse usually hosts a whole weekend of fun things, but not this year.  We spotted her at the park.  The kids asked to jump out and go say hello.  Kevin pulled over, got the kids ready to go and snapped their picture with Mrs Mouse.  I said no (bc I'm a rule follower and didn't want to get out of line).  He said yes and made it happen.  I'm glad de did.  Now we have a picture with Mrs Mouse for the 4th year in a row.  The kids were thrilled.

7.Gift Wrappers

I have never done this one, but they were eager to help this year.  We've teamed up to practice cutting wrapping paper, tearing off bits of tape, folding corners, etc.  They beam with pride with each imperfectly wrapped gift and I love seeing their confidence grow.  They only wanted to wrap a few at a time and then they'd be done, but it was fun to do it together.

8. Mail Monitors

It's their job to monitor the mail every day.  They took all our Christmas cards to the mailbox, kept a close eye on the flag and the mail trucks in our neighborhood.  They'd get the mail and packages off the porch every day.  They learned how to sort bills, cards, etc.  It's been fun to delegate this job to them.

Would your kids enjoy doing these jobs?

Here's your nudge to let them help with jobs you normally take care of by yourself.

I'd love to hear other ideas for including your kids in Christmas planning, prep and festivities.