Monday, December 20, 2010

Five Ways to Enjoy the Spirit of Christmas

Christmas time is hectic!! Everyone is busy decorating, buying presents, baking, and attending parties. It's a great time of the year but sometimes it can be a little too much. I've been trying to keep in mind the true meaning of Christmas and not worry about the little things that can overwhelm us if we let them. I'd like to share five things we've done as a family that have really helped us have the spirit of Christmas.

1. Decorations. Keep them simple. This year, we mainly decorated our living room with a tree, nativities, and a few other items. I went ahead and ordered myself a nativity set because I didn't really have one. Well, we have a one-piece display that included Joseph, Mary and Jesus that we bought the year we were married but I've always wanted a set that included animals and other people. Having the new set as a centerpiece on our mantle was really nice!
2. Treats. It's so fun to make treats to share with others! I stuck to a few relatively easy to make treats like pretzel turtles, dipped pretzel rods, and peanut brittle. By far the most popular treat was the pretzel turtles! Everyone who's had them has raved about them, which was great because they literally took minutes to make. I made almost 150 of these yummy things.
3. Meaning. I've been telling my kids that Christmas is about Jesus; we're celebrating his birthday. We've been reading different scriptures that talk about the birth of Jesus every night this month to help us focus on why we have this holiday.
4. Family Time. We've been doing a few activities as a family that have been fun and festive. We attended a nativity open-house and Christmas play put on by the Stake activities committee. Our ward put on a breakfast with Santa that was very well-done but not too elaborate or extravagant. We went and looked at Christmas lights that various people in our community have put out around their homes. Some people have some spectacular light displays!! We're also looking forward to a trip to see Dan's family in Michigan.
5. Cards and Gifts. Gifts are always the big thing for Christmas so it's been really hard not to go overboard. To help in this area, I've actually been setting aside money a few months before December so we won't be taking all the funds out from this month's budget. Also, I should've gotten our cards out earlier but it didn't happen so I'm not going to stress out about it. However, I've decided to make sure I mark when I'd like to send them out next year so I can be better prepared.

I'd love to hear about how you've kept the spirit of Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Photocards

Disclosure: This post is in response to Shutterfly's 50 free photocard offer.

I'm a little behind on sending out Christmas cards this year. With Facebook and email, it seems rather old-fashioned and costly to send letters or cards in the mail. But, I love getting pictures and letters in the mail from people. I enjoy hearing from family and friends and catching up on what they've been up to this year. I do enjoy getting the email updates too but a card, picture, and/or a letter just seems so much more personal.

The downside to sending out cards and letters is that it seems to take so much longer than you think it would. Also, there are so many options. You could do a letter with a family picture, a photo card, just a plain card with a handwritten note, or, a homemade card (which is really personal). I'm very much leaning toward a photo card this year. In the past, I've written letters and included photos, which is a fine option. I just feel like I don't have enough to tell for a letter this year. Also, I feel like I say pretty much the same thing every year so it's time to do something a little different.

I've been impressed with the photo cards Shutterfly has to offer this year. As I look through the many designs and layouts for Christmas Photo Cards that they have, I find it hard to narrow down to just one design. There are also many pricing options so you can pick one that fits your budget. Here are a few designs that I really like.

I love this design because you can write a little update on the kids. Since I have two kids, this would be perfect.

I like how you can put three pictures on this one. The background is very nice. I think "Oh Holy NIght" is one of the most beautiful Christmas songs.

Simple but so very cute!

This might be my favorite. You can list ten things about the year - perfect for me since I don't have much to say!

Ooh! This one lets you write a little letter along with the pictures! Hmm... it's going to be hard to decide which design to go with.

Christmas photo card to

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


We had a wonderful Thanksgiving! My parents came on Monday and stayed over a week. It was great having them here. I know the kids enjoyed it as well. Here are some highlights from their visit:

* Dan and I planned to go see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Wednesday night. I'd seen the show times in the paper a couple days before and it was the perfect time, 8:15 PM. We were able to get the kids in bed by 8 and had plenty of time to get there. We got there AND... they told us that the times were different for that night because of the opening of several new movies. The next showing was 10 PM. We left disappointed. We could've gone back and seen the movie at 10 PM but we didn't. You know you must be getting old if you don't feel like staying up late, even for a movie you really want to see.

* Our Thanksgiving Day was great! We decided to keep our menu traditional this year and it was not as stressful. However, as seems to be the case with most of our Thanksgivings, this one had a couple of memorable events. In the late morning, as Dan was beginning to make the rolls, he felt water dripping down on him from the ceiling. We have an exhaust fan that vents out of the kitchen through the roof. The fan is right above the stove. At first we thought it was snow melting and dripping through the vent cover. Then we realized that it must be the warm moist air from the kitchen condensing inside the cold vent. In any case, we lost some time trying to figure out a way to prevent the dripping water from getting into the food we were making. I'm sorry to say, we didn't get any pictures!!

After lunch, we were able to catch the Harry Potter movie. Loved it! It made me want to re-read all the books.

* Every year in Cheyenne, there's a Christmas parade. It starts at 5 PM so all the floats are lighted with Christmas lights. Luckily, this year it was as cold as usual. We watched it from the same spot we watched it last year because it's not at the beginning of the route so we had more time to park the car and get there. Ellie was so funny - she clutched the candy she got in her hands and wouldn't let go for anything. Her poor little hands were freezing cold!

* I was assigned to speak in church that Sunday. My topic was the creation. I found an Ensign article by Bruce R. McConkie and based my talk on it. I learned SO much preparing for my talk! It was nice that my parents were there for my talk, even though they probably didn't understand much of it.

* The day before my parents left, we went to visit the Wyoming State Capitol. It was my first visit there myself. We got a tour and it was neat to learn more about Wyoming history. I learned that the state of Wyoming was the first government in the world to grant women the ability to vote and the first state to elect a female governor.