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What’s In Our Christmas Eve BoxesHappy Friday, friends! My mind is exploding with all of the fun Christmas activities and crafts I want to squeeze in before Christmas. Today, I’m sharing how we do the Christmas Eve box tradition at our house. This has been such a fun tradition over the past several years since becoming a mom. I love seeing how others celebrate Christmas and all of the unique and fun traditions. This is one of ours. My husband happened to be wearing a coordinating shirt when I snapped these photos and hopped right in. I just had to share this one since he’s the guy behind making many of my ideas a reality, and my very best friend. I realize I have posted a lot of child related Christmas content and I wanted to acknowledge all of the woman out there waiting and longing to be a mother this Christmas. You are not forgotten. Christmas is such a special and magical time but also a painful time for many. Personally, I have found so much comfort and hope in Christmas. I can’t help but think back to Christmas several years ago when my husband and I found ourselves in the most difficult part of our battle with infertility. That year, it was about a week before Halloween and I was at the lowest point I’ve ever been. I was sad in a way I don’t have words to describe, longing to hear the sounds of pitter patter throughout our house. In desperation for something to pull me from the pit I was stuck in, I set up the Christmas tree and pulled out all of the Christmas decor. In the midst of everything, seeing our tree lit up and festive decor brought comfort and hope. Little did I know, that would be the last Christmas before someone called me Mama. In fact, we welcomed our sweet boy the next year, just 15 days before Christmas. Throughout the wait and during that Christmas, I dreamed of all the things I wanted to do as a mother and what holidays would look like with little ones running around. In combination with sweet childhood memories of Christmas, our infertility journey is a lot of my “why” behind how we choose to celebrate Christmas and holidays now that we have little ones. Now that you know a little bit about why I’m so excited to create fun activities and memories, back to Christmas Eve Boxes. This tradition usually consists of things that will be used and enjoyed on Christmas Eve and is something fun for kids to open in anticipation of Christmas Morning. Each year, our box looks a little different and goes along with our decor theme. You can choose to use the same special box every year or change it up. I prefer to use a different container each year and always choose something timeless that blends with our home decor and serves as storage somewhere in our home. My goal is for each item to go beyond Christmas and have a place in our home. I would describe our home as a mix of cottage and coastal. This years Christmas decor includes mostly light blues and greenery. First, I purchased these sturdy wooden crates to hold all the goodies. They’re solid, neutral and can be used almost anywhere in our home. Here’s what I filled them with: 1. Plush whale 2. Plush shark 2. Nautical muslin blanket 3. Ribbed pajamas 4. Reindeer glasses I found the reindeer glasses for only a dollar in the stocking stuffer section at Walmart. I like that they’re simple and neutral. In year past, I’ve included something else festive to wear like antlers. 5. Favorite snacks I included my boys favorite, beef sticks, and gummy legos I found in the bulk bin section of Fresh Market. To assemble the boxes, I added a few sheets of white tissue paper, piled everything in and added a small green wreath with a navy blue bow to the front of the crate. I made these wreaths a few years back using Target dollar spot garland and pack them up each year in my gift wrap box to use again. They’ve embellished gifts, toys, a wagon for Christmas photos and much more. I hope this post is helpful, if you’ve never done Christmas Eve boxes, they are truly a fun tradition to look forward to. Check back soon to see more Christmas traditions our family enjoys.
Kids Gingerbread ApronI have another fun Christmas craft to share with you today. I Just can’t seem to get enough gingerbread this year and had fun making these cute little aprons for my boys. You only need a few supplies to make one of these and can personalize it however you want. I used these adorable little aprons from Hobby Lobby. They are small and the perfect size for toddlers. They’re also on sale this week for $2.79. If you happen to grab them on a week they’re not on sale, you can use the 40% one item coupon from the Hobby Lobby website. This would make such a fun gift for a little one around the holidays. My boys really like that there are pockets on these and want to help in the kitchen anytime they can. Supplies: -Solid colored apron -Gingerbread man cookie cutter or another shape of your choice -Pen -Gold acrylic paint -White puff paint -Small paint brush 1. Place your apron on a counter or solid flat surface. 2. Center the cookie cutter over the top middle of the apron. 3. Use your pen to trace around your cookie cutter. 4. Using a small amount of paint on your brush, paint around the outline of your gingerbread man. 5. Once outlined, paint the center. Allow to dry and give it a second coat if needed. 6. Use your white puff paint to outline your gingerbread man and add details just as you would add to a cookie. That’s it! These only took about 20 minutes from start to finish, plus a few hours for the puff paint to fully dry. Hobby lobby also sells the adult version of this apron. How cute would a “mommy and me” set be?
Who Has It Harder? Working Parents, Stay at Home Parents…or BOTH?[Total_Soft_Poll id=2] (Audio option) Who's job is harder? The working parent? The stay at home parent? Or would you say both are equally hard? Which ever answer you voted up above, there is no wrong answer. However, let's get some insight into the pros and cons of both and what would make one harder than the other. P.S. There ARE some stay at home Dads believe it or not. The Working Parent - Pros They raise more independent children. Children of working parents do tend to be more independent because they need to teach their kids how to do chores on their own and develop a sense of responsibility at an early age. They also learn how to really adapt without their parents, and there's more social exposure for the kids when they are at daycare/school interacting with other children. You have a life outside of being a parent. You have feelings of career fulfillment and individuality. When I was working, I was more than just Jazmine and Gabriella's Mom, and my Husband is more than Gabriella and Jazmine's Dad. It's not that we are not proud of those things but we also need to be Jason and Amber too! So working and having a career gives you something of your own so to speak. You have that identity that extends beyond being a Mom or Dad. There is a DIFFERENT sense of appreciation that stay at home parents just don't get. No one is going to tell you, Oh the house looks pretty good, thanks for trying to do it while keeping the kids safe and alive. But when you close that deal with the new client, or get a new sale, you can bet your boss is singing a tune!Less Financial Stress. Who doesn't love plenty of financial income flowing in? You will be able to provide better for your children when there's TWO incomes instead of one. While there are stressful days that come with answering to a boss, and working carefully on daily responsibilities, there is that sweet paycheck every week (or every two weeks) that makes it all worthwhile. You get a flippin BREAK! Some people actually WANT to work just to get away from the kids! Get away from the stinky diapers, the screaming, the crying, the messes in the house, etc. You get to talk to actual adults and have work friends than being with the kids talking baby talk and picking up after them all day long! That hour lunch that's so nice by yourself where you don't have to share your food and have your kid pulling at your sleeve for you to give them your food you just want to enjoy by yourself in peace! After you close that house door or after you drop the kids off to school, you step on that gas pedal, blast the music, go get some starbucks and head off to start your day. The Working Parent - Cons You end up missing things. Parents want to see and hear every first milestone-first step, first word, first roll-over etc. They are the most precious heartfelt moments. But then, you're at work and the Sitter sends a video or tells you when you get home that your baby took their first steps. Or, if your preschooler has their first field trip and you have a huge meeting at work or you just started a new job and can't take off. We're bound to have these moments as a working parent. When we miss things it's heartbreaking because we feel we should be there for EVERYTHING and then we become consumed with GUILT!Not enough TIME! There's not enough hours in the day as it is, but when you become a parent it gets even worse. Literally every day Monday through Friday Jason and I as soon as we walked through the door the chaos started with getting the kids hands washed, their clothes off, getting dinner ready, this kid is crying, this kid doesn't want to take their new shirt off, we're hungry, there's homework, and on and on and on. By the time everything was done, we were literally not sitting down until 7:30,8:00pm! Then, two hours later at 10:00pm it's time to go to bed. WHERE DID THE TIME GO?! Where do you get to spend time with the kids because their bedtime is 8, 8:30,9pm?! Absurd! So you totally lose so much time and truly have to make the most of your weekends. Other caregivers spending more time with your children than you. When I was working I felt that my Sitter was practically raising our girls. I felt that our toddler was spending more time with her teachers at school than me. I didn't like the thought of someone else raising our girls and being there for all their milestones at the time. It was HARD. I felt like I barely saw them with the time I got home, and all the stuff I had to do. I didn't feel like I was being replaced but it made me feel a little inadequate like I wasn't present enough. So often times we can feel like we're not THERE enough at home with our kids but someone else is who's not their parent. Difficulty focusing on work. You may be passionate about your job, but if you've had a sleepless night with your child, you may find it hard to focus the next day at work. I was constantly thinking about the girls while at work among other things. My work performance was slacking, and quite honestly, my work life was never the same after having kids. It just wasn't. So working parents may find it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand. STAY AT HOME PARENTS - PROS You have a routine. You'll have more control over your family's routine as a stay at home parent. You don't have to worry about the morning meltdowns, getting called into work early, or staying late, the whole nine. Your routine will pretty much be the same week to week. Different stress levels. Even if your child is in full meltdown mode, you're less likely to be overwhelmed and the stress level is lower versus you getting home from work starving, need a shower,tired and having to hear screams and cries. You have more time for them and you're not going crazy rushing and trying to get to this and that to the point where you feel like your head is gonna pop off. The freedom and flexibility. If one of your kids wake up sick, there isn't a boss to call. You can tend to them all day without having to call the sitter or the school every hour to see if they're okay. No rushing from work if they get sick and have to stop in the middle of work because your kid threw up three times or got hurt. You're right there! No missed milestones, you'll be there for the memorable moments. All the moments that you can't get back while at work you'll be there for. The freedom and flexibility that you get is amazing!YOU are raising your Children. Your kids are with you majority of the time so you won't feel like the daycare worker or the sitter is raising them. You determine what they eat, their schedule, and the values they are taught. You also are fully responsible for their safety. You can focus 100% of your time and energy on taking care of your children. STAY AT HOME PARENTS - CONS You have a round the clock job now. Your job now is taking care of the kids and home all day everyday. You now change poop and pee diapers all day, make breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, listen to crying and screaming all day and your new lunch break is when they're napping. You constantly have an audience as your children are always around, underneath you, tugging at you and so on. You're never alone! No money. That two person income just got cut down to one paycheck. Your spouse is now feeding four mouths on one income. You're not as flexible as you used to be to do stuff that you wanna do because now you REALLY have to budget carefully. However, there are ways to make money while being a stay at home parent. (Ask us)The Constant State of Need. Instead of waking up to an alarm everyday, you wake up to your toddler yelling your name for something every two minutes, or your baby crying because they're hungry. You literally go all day nonstop! This one needs cereal, this one needs their pull-up on, that one needs formula, and so on. The kids become more of a handful with the whining, fighting, and misbehaviors. You feel trapped. While you may love being a stay at home parent, sometimes you feel like you're trapped and wish you can steal some moments for yourself. However, that's where the self care needs to be implemented. You start to miss your work friends, the satisfaction of doing a good job, bringing in a regular paycheck, and even getting dressed up for work in that sharp suit Dads, and that cute blazer and dress pants with your Steve Madden shoes Moms. No matter what your answer is up above or how you feel with regard to being a stay at home parent, or a working parent, both are incredibly big jobs that come with rewards as well as hard times like everything else. There's always that constant juggle whether you're one or the other. There's no perfect way to parent, but as long as our children go to bed with full bellies knowing they are loved and cared for, then we've truly done our jobs. ~Amber L. Hurley