Monday, December 25, 2017

Deep Thoughts: Christmas Memories Book

Early in our marriage my Mother in Law gave us a Christmas Memories Book. It was before I ever got into Scrapbooking but I had been keeping journals since my teenage years. Though I haven't kept it up every year it's been a treasure of things I would forget from all the years of the girls growing up.

The first entry pre-dates Samantha even joining our family! It records our visits to a tree farm on Whidbey Island with Steve's mom from when she lived in Oak Harbor and reading the entry brings it all back. The fire where you could drink cider, the pony dressed as a reindeer and Steve's Mom grumbling about the weather. 

The next year Samantha joined us at the tree farm as a newborn (at about a month old) and the grumbling from Grandma Thiele was at a max as to why we would drag a newborn around a windy tree farm! But traditions were kept and everyone lived thru it! And the whole thing was recorded in our book

In the year 2000 nothing was recorded, but our family photo and favorite card made it into the book. In our photo I think everyone was sick. Poor Kate had a rash, I think I was running a high temp and sweet baby Sam had just recovered. I think the only way Steve stayed well was working all the time! As I remember it, it was a tricky year. Too bad I didn't record it! 

2002 was a much better can tell by the smiles...and by Kate's thumbs up that we missed in editing! (and I'm glad we did!) According to the book my parents gifted us with a new dishwasher and tv so that would account for our smiles! Steve had nine days off of work and we had lots of time with extended family which made for a fun, chaotic Christmas. 

This is one of my favorite entries. Due to a pretty big snowstorm things got crazy trying to get to church so we decided to hold our own candlelight service. Kate made the handouts, and we had our service. It was sweet and heartfelt. And still remains one of my favorite Christmas memories. 

In 2014 we decided to highlight our sweet addition Boston on our Christmas card. A couple of christmas lights were broken in the making of the card before we decided on an easier option for the photo. We brought Boston home in January of the year and thought he was a perfect stand in for one of our favorite Christmas stories Olive The other Reindeer. 

This year the entry will talk about our grown daughter and her boyfriend being here for Christmas eve. That we went to Candlelight service as a family and it was as magic as ever. And that caroling with friends on Fairhaven green was a great lead-in to Christmas day. I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and send you the peace and joy that this season can bring. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

On My Radar: Experiences as Gifts

Are you all finished with your Christmas shopping? Or are you looking for one last special gift that will make things feel just right this year? I have a couple of last minute thoughts for you that might do the trick. 

A couple of years ago when I realized just how old the girls were getting I realized it would make more sense to make their big gift one of an experience rather than a thing. And most of the time it was something we could do together! 

The first time we tried this was for Sam's birthday. We gifted her a trip on the zip-lines at Canopy Tours NW and of course we all went with her! It was amazing and would make an incredible Christmas gift. And right now they have a special where if you buy three gift certificates you get one free making it feel a bit more reasonable for a family! It was so much fun and truly an unforgettable experience. 

The great thing about this area is there is so much available to do outside. The Gato Verde is one way to explore our lovely waters, a gorgeous catamaran that you can book for a sunset cruise, overnight trips, or more. It's a relaxing beautiful way to experience the bay or further. 

If you prefer to explore under your own power you can go out with Moondance Sea Kayak Adventures. It feels like there is no end to the kind of trips you can take with them. You can take a day trip to explore the tide pools, to learn about seaweed foraging or a night trip to experience the bioluminescence (which we did and it was magic!). They offer short trips or overnight or multi-day trips which we may try when we feel strong enough! You truly experience the beauty of the area. 

If the weather is just not cooperating and you prefer to give a gift for inside there are options for that too. One that is especially perfect for the cold days ahead is a float at Still Life Massage and Float. A pod full of water at skin temperature and 1200 pounds of Epson salts feels incredible and leaves you feeling like a different person once you step out. There are two pods in rooms next to one another so Steve and I have done this like a date which was incredible! 

If you are looking to give someone the gift of ease, Salt+Pepper+Oil for fresh, ready to cook meals. What I love about them is that they are local, delicious and the owner is a great guy. And did I say local? That makes us feel even better when we order from them. 

Then there are memberships. We love The Pickford and find ourselves buying each other memberships for various reasons (Anniversaries, birthdays). It would be a perfect gift for a family as they have such an incredible mix of movies for all ages and tastes. 

We have also been considering buying a membership to The Whatcom Museum. Every time we visit we are incredibly impressed by the shows they bring in. When you become a member you are given admission to all the buildings which all have very different shows. I especially love the heritage shows where they bring out the classic photographs from their collections. And they other shows they bring in are amazing. 

Hopefully these gave you some ideas if they were needed! If not for Christmas, maybe for other occasions! Cheers! 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Deep Thoughts: Gifts, Expectations and Wish Lists

Ah, Christmas. Visions of sugarplums and trips to the mall? We have been having a lot of conversations at work around gifting and how everyone handles it. One thing comes up again and again is how to deal with expectations and also how to make gifting easy and fun! 

 One would like to think that their significant other would just "know" them and what they love. But there are times when it helps to have hints. Our daughter Sam came to the rescue one year after many years of Steve making the late dash to the mall and not really having any idea of what gifts to get for me or them.Thats when google came in handy! 

If you have a google account it's easy to make a sharable document in google drive. Sam prefers to use spreadsheets, while Kate goes with a document. You can provide links in either. This is my list here. This has made it easy for us to email the lists with all the family and make them accessible on phones. And setting them up on google drive with the link makes things even easier! It also makes sticking to a budget much more reasonable! 

Having the list which feels like a registry gives us so much freedom. We usually do a lot of online shopping, with as much shopping local as possible mixed in. With the list you know you won't disappoint yet there is still the surprise in what is picked out. Surprisingly anticipation is almost heightened and everyone seems excited for the big day! And of course you can always go off it! 

I think the reason this has become a saver for us is that while I enjoy gifting and love receiving gifts, for Steve it's not a big deal. So he is able to hit a home run while not being stressed out of his mind! And it leaves room for casual and fun shopping trips that are more of a date than a stressful run thru a mall. 

Do you think you would give something like this a try? Or do you have something that works well for your family that you could share? I love hearing how everyone manages to make the holidays their own! 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Set The Scene: Mixing up the Christmas Decor

Do you keep things traditional with your decorations every year? Or do you mix things up? Last year after we put the lights up on our tree we almost left it at that. This year we decided to do it. We placed a total of three ornaments on it and it feels perfect. 

This year we decided to keep it simple. We are after a feeling of peace. Of calm. We have a lot of things to focus on with Sam in her senior year looking at colleges and Kate living away from us. It feels like a time to mix things up and make them work for us. (kind of like we are with our other traditions!) 

Trust me there is still a party going on in our living room! Somehow there is neon and disco lights and vintage trees and houses and garland and glassy babies. But I hope somehow it works. And I love making things feel fresh by changing things up.I do know of some families where there would be some protest. Thankfully my family is used to me messing around with things so they are good with it. 

There is something comforting pulling the boxes and bringing out the decorations year after year.  I love the idea that the white church and some of the other small houses have been in my family since my Dad was small. And adding to the village has been so much fun for me over the years. 

There is also something to be said for letting things rest for a year. I have boxes of vintage ornamants that I have distilled down to whats in the lamp base for this year. Just some favorites. And it feels like what this Christmas needs. 

And that leaves room for some touches in the guest bedroom that is waiting in the hopes that Kate and her boyfriend Nick will be staying over Christmas Eve. And that is what these decorations are here for. To set the scene for the important things. Time with my friends and family. How about you? Do you mix it up?