One Hundred Days

On Christmas morning growing up, my Dad would lay long ways on our couch.

The couch was brown and green plaid found pushed against the white wall in our living room. While he laid there, I'd stand with my back end pressed against the edge of the couch. My eyes would circle the living room with all the Christmas excitement in view. Red dangly curls lined each cheek in most of my childhood pictures. As I am certain they did on those Christmas mornings. The other day, I looked through old Christmas pictures for one showing me standing against the couch. Let's just say some pictures linger only in our minds never making them to a print version.

Now, thinking about those days, I smile.

Smile at the memories etched in my precious mind of Christmas morning spent with my family.

Those curls grew out. Turned colors in shades of light reddish blonde. My guess from the amount of time spent in the sun. The curls evidentially formed a different shape of curl along the way as well.

I grew up moving on starting a family of my own.

Christmas then triggered new traditions for my married mothering life.

My oldest daughter is now 20. She left 3 weeks ago to attend college away from home. My mind spins in the reality what Christmas will look like this year following the years to come. There's no surprise realizing our kids grow up and move on. Even when slips of empty linger, we must remind ourselves it's a season. They are doing what they are supposed to be doing. We did it. Our parents did it. Their parents did it. Our kids will do it. Their kids will even do it. MOVE. ON. While thinking of my "new" Christmas, I jotted down a few traditions we've formed while she was growing up with her sister who is eight years younger to whom still lives at home.

In a relaxing manner, I would like to share some of those traditions we've accumulated over the years. Pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee or relaxing tea, I know this will be fun. Take time out for you. Let's knock the edge off the approaching holiday season together. Relax. See. You feel it? This time of year is going to be fun. No. More. Pressure. Be. Free.

Let's get started:

Christmas Cards- I promise the Christmas picture card frenzy was started by me. When I was a child we did not send family Christmas picture cards. Nor do I remember friends sending them to us. It was not until I had a child, way before all my friends and when she was about 4 years old, I fell in love with photography. So the next Christmas, I made a Christmas photo card of her. I sent the card out to as many addresses I had at the time. From then on Christmas picture cards became the big tradition for most families. I know I started this! Funny thinking, I know. Christmas picture cards have become very popular over the years. Although we don't send a full family picture card, it's only of my kids, I am always on the hunt for a new outlet to purchase those cards where we can add their picture. This year, I found Paperless Posts, click on their name to see their recently updated site. They even have really cool Christmas cards not intended for pictures. Here is a little insight from our picture journey last year, Let this be your year. It will give you a peek into when we plan our Christmas cards. Also, it provides encouragement for those who might not make it to making cards.

One Tradition Shared From Childhood- A Christmas eve box holding matching pajamas. One of my favorite, I actually started this for my kids years ago. Not really thinking about my mother did it too. Because I think the older my sister and I got she no longer did it. Not a hundred percent sure, but thinking my memory is correct. When looking through Christmas pictures the other day, I found one of me and my sister holding matching pajamas. This picture was from when I was real little. Little with those red curls I mentioned at the start of this blog post. Ah, I do have a tradition going my mother did also. We can get so busy not realizing how much we do things like our mother's.

Favorite Christmas Breakfast- 
Sausage Balls
3 cup Bisquick
1 cup water
1 lb. grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 lb. ground sausage
Mix all together. Spoon into balls placing them on a cookie sheet. Cook on 350 until golden brown.
We started this tradition almost 15 years ago. A friend at work shared the recipe and it quickly became our favorite.

Family Time- After my sister and I married, we agreed to make arrangements with our families to alternate holidays. Especially when you toss kids into the mix. It can be hard. This is how we do it. One Christmas Eve we are with my husband's side of the family and Christmas of that same year we are with my family. Then the next year on Christmas Eve we are with my side of the family and Christmas Day with my husband's side of the family. My sister worked it out with her husband's side of the family therefore, we are synced on the same holiday schedule. Meaning when she's with her husband's side of the family, I am with my husband's side of the family. And when she's with her side of the family, I am with my side of the family. It's work out best as we know. Holidays can be hard for all. Hope this is helpful for someone. We started this many of years ago. So it's been long standing.

The Worst Christmas Gift- If you were to ask my kids what's the worst present they've received. They would tell you in a heartbeat. A box of Christmas tissues. You know one of those tissue boxes with cute decorations on the side you see around the holiday season. This could've been one of those Jimmy Kimmel moments, worst Christmas gift. Their response was just what he's looking for. Only, I didn't know I'd get the response I did. Nor was it my intent. So, I did not video. This took place several years ago. I tried to find small fun things so they could open gifts leading up to Christmas. I mean what kid doesn't love to open early gifts. Be precaution what you give my friends.

The Best Christmas Gift- From a mother's eyes, the best Christmas gift my kids received is advanced payment for college tuition. Hands down. Tell the grandparents to your children. Make it a creative adventure. So it's fun. Worth their wild. A jar with balloons with a sign on it, maybe, for them to drop their deposit in for their precious grandchildren.

One Thing I Wish I'd Done Different- Throughout the years, I wish I'd given 3 gifts per child. 3 gifts, as in, like the wise men gave Jesus, gold (of great value), frankincense (something spiritual) and myrrh (something for the body). Although it's not too late to start. My encouragement if you are not already doing this at whatever the age of your children 3 gifts each is plenty. Save the money you spend on the senseless stuff which ends up in the trash or donated. You will be ahead in the long run. Less clean up on Christmas. Less clean up on a daily basis. Less clean up decluttering your home. More money saved for college.  

Favorite Christmas Food From Childhood-
Sweet Potato Casserole
3 cups mashed sweet potato
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup oleo
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp butter
topping: 1/2 cup oleo
1/3 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Boil & mash potatoes. Add other ingredients. Put in casserole dish & top with topping.
Bake 350 for 30 minutes
My grandparents always cooked this recipe. I cook it now for our holiday season.

A Favorite Christmas Candy At Our House- A go to pick up candy is candy canes. Hands down. My kids love a good candy cane. Sounds cheesy. I know. It's a fact around here though.

Christmas Movies- Home Alone is our family favorite Christmas movie. We also enjoy watching the ABC Family 25 days of Christmas series.

Christmas Lights- A tradition since I was a child. My mother would drive me and my sister to a certain street near our home. It was a short street with a culdesac at the end. One house lights lined both sides of their driveway. We now as a family driving looking at lights as well. Even one year at our last house, my husband decorated our house covered in lights. It was awesome. Lots of hard work but it was fun back then. That's been over 15 years ago.

The Best Item I Bought For Winter Season- A snowman kit from a fundraiser magazine my daughter's school had. It has a hat, eyes, nose, pipe, and a scarf.

Wrapping Paper- A thick wrapping paper is a must. Sally Foster school fundraiser got me hook years ago. Now Hobby Lobby selection of thick Christmas wrapping paper is pretty awesome. One of my favorite things to do is limited the wrapping paper patterns for each Christmas season. Then wrap the kids presents stacking them on top of each other. The paper left from the year before goes to my mother. One year, I got thick brown paper. Mother helps me every year wrap their presents. This particular year she expressed how hard it was using the brown paper, like a brown paper bag, but it was a roll of it. I got crayons that year letting them decorate the paper themselves. It was fun watching them.

September 15th marks 100 days until Christmas. I hope you enjoyed hearing some of our family traditions. Please feel free to add some to your holiday season. Or simply drop how many you've created for your family. It's okay to say no.

What is one Christmas tradition you remember from childhood?
Do you have one you created for your family now?

Without Saying a Word

A lady standing next to me asked if I knew who "such-n-such" was. They are "such-n-such's" sibling. My shoulder nearly touching hers enough to hear over the loud fans, whistleblowing, hightops screeching, coaches hauler, teammates calling for teammates and other parents talking.

We stood in the awkward position pushed against the wall out of harm's way, the ball. "No", I replied. "When my oldest daughter graduated a few years ago, it was the best release not keeping up with everyone." Our shoulders separated. She slid back into her upright standing position while I did the same.

It's important to know people, I get that, especially kids and families our own children are involved with. Also, I am a believer in going with what feels natural. Meaning where the Holy Spirit leads me in my demeanor as a mother. And this is feeling pretty awesome. Free. From. Highschool. Life.

My second child is only in middle school. So, I've enjoyed the break from high school life. A momma deserves a break, right. This time around starting the teen years, I am one of the few who already raised a teen. Eyeballs are on me, "give us advice".

That's cool with me. I'll start by saying "every child is different". I see it with the very two I am raising, and I saw it first hand up close with my oldest daughter and her friends. Let's just say it was a beautiful process to watch those kids grow up. More importantly, watch the other parents. Back then I was the mom who didn't have an older child. So, I did a lot of evaluating and watching of parenting skills. Then there were things behind closed doors, I had to tackle on my own as a mother. Today, I want to share those with you. Because I've been there. I've raised a daughter. Who is now 20. Which is another set of parenting challenges. Your time will come with those years too. I promise. Just like you got through infant, toddler, terrible two's, you will get past the teen years. I'll get past the 20's and teen's again.

When one is in the heat of the moment raising a teen, it can be hard. We can tend to forget what it was like for us personally when we were a teen.

If words fly off the handle.
The door gets slammed.
If mumbles form under the breath getting out of the car at practice.

Let it go!

Yes, I said it. Let it go.

Exodus 14:14 The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still. 

The harder we push, the harder they push the other way.

Think back to when you were a teen.

The pressure:

fitting in
performing the way a certain coach requires
adjusting to being around young and older girls/boys
longer practices
body changes

Be the mushy comfort your teen needs without saying a word, for now at least. [Click here to tweet].

Plan a time to watch a movie or tv show with just them. Make a movie ticket. Write it on a notecard. You can even schedule it verbally. This may require staying up later. Or asking your spouse to hang with the rest of the crew while you get this special time.

Write a note of encouragement. Post the note to their mirror, closet door, back of bathroom door or inside a cabinet. Leave it for a few days. Depending on your child's personality you may need to take it down before company, better yet leave it for the company to see, they might need encouragement too. Add a Bible verse. Not sure which verse. Find one here. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Encourage each other and build each other up. 

Do a chore. One they are normally responsible for. No one wants to add more to their momma/dad list. I get it. Really, I do. Trust me on this one. You may not hear a response back on this one from your child. There's no need.

Speak kindly to them. Even if not spoken to kindly first. Proverbs 16:24 Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. 

Ask for a hug. Not everyone is a hugger. If you are unsure test the waters and see if yours is. Can't get a hug in aim for a high-five. Or watching the movie snuggle next to them. Even if it's only touching shoulders.

Pray. Ask the Lord to reveal things He might be communicating to you about your personal self through this time. We are always growing. He is always talking to us. I know raising my oldest I grew mentally and spiritually. How do you feel about yourself? Are you jam up okay with the way things are? Do you love your job, hair, looks, etc? If you do not read anything else I've written, read this. You are jam up. You are a cool parent. You are a child of Gods. That's what matters. That's what makes you cool. You are loved. You are awesome. You matter. When we are busy loving God, others and our life there is no room for drama, worry, fear or regrets. Ephesians 2:19-22 When you feel unloved, unimportant, or insecure remember to whom you belong. 

Leave a gift. We all like surprises. If the teen needs something like a new toothbrush, socks, a pencil pouch or something for school, use this item as the gift. Leave a small note with the item stating, "I got this just for you." Don't go out breaking the bank to gift something in hopes the teen will never be grumbly again. A small gesture is all that's needed. Even baking a favorite meal or treat of theirs would be awesome.

Share what it was like when you were a teen. Teens love to hear stories about when we were kids. They want to know we screwed up, talked back to our parents, ran into a door in front of everyone, struggled with our appearance, and we saw the need for a daily relationship with Christ. Most get saved moving on never developing a relationship. This may be something you need to pray about personally for yourself. If so, that is perfectly okay.

While praying ask the Lord to show you which of these above would be good for you and your teen. All of them are not meant to be tackled. One. Few. Couple. Be the comfort your teen needs from the outside world. Be the hands and feet of Jesus.

You will make it through this.
You can handle this.
You can put the wooden spoon away.
You will see the sassy leave.

You are a great parent.

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