A Peek Into Our Christmas Break

posted by Andrea | 01/2/2017
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Happy New Year!

I feel like the first thing I want to do it let out a big huge sigh….ahhhhhhhhhhhh.

It was SO nice to take a week off from my blog, from responding to comments, from emails, from social media, even from my computer. There were at least 3 or 4 days when I left my computer off the entire day and only responded to 1 or 2 emails from my phone. Glorious!

I always forget how freeing it is to have no work or Virtual Assistant obligations after the kids go to bed (especially when Dave has a break from grading and lesson planning). I read THREE 350-page books, watched a few episodes of The Crown on Netflix, finished up our family’s 2016 photo book, and even went to a fun girls-only class reunion with several girls from my high school class!

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Dave and I are both very grateful to be able to make an income doing something we enjoy and something we feel passionate about, but since both our jobs require lots of “behind the scenes work”, we easily fall into the trap of doing “just one more thing” — writing one more blog post, responding to one more comment, making one more website tweak, grading one more set of quizzes, planning one more lesson, sending one more email, etc. etc.

Having this multi-day break right in the middle of our “normal” working routine is such a treat, and one we look forward to every single year!

As I mentioned earlier, we worked hard to simplify Christmas for our family this year — and our efforts paid off! Our break was VERY slow, relaxing, and enjoyable. In fact, we were able to spend both Christmas Day and New Years Day at home with absolutely no obligations, parties, or to-dos!

We said “no” to several things and enjoyed so much time together at home with our own family and with Dave and my immediate families (this is one of only 2 or 3 times each year when our kids get to see their cousins).

Our kids amassed an impressive amount of gifts from doting aunts, uncles, and grandparents — but we managed to find a place to store them all (and I’m sure we’ll be purging even more of our older toys in the coming month).

Nora said she couldn’t pick a favorite gift, but some of her favorites were:

  • Nutcracker ornament
  • Hair chalk
  • Frozen fleece nightgown, slippers, and fuzzy socks
  • New earrings
  • Multiple games

Simon and James have been in car/truck heaven this past week. I think we got over 30 different trucks, fire engines, police cars, matchbox cars, trains, planes, boats, etc. (no, I’m not joking!)

I’m thankful we now have a whole room devoted to trucks and cars because they really do play with them every day.

James got an automatic bubble blower and has been thoroughly enjoying the massive amount of bubbles!

We enjoyed COLD snowy weather the first part of our break, and then much warmer weather later in the break — so the kids got to play in the snow AND ride their bikes and scooters!

All of that aside though… it’s great to be back!

We’re enjoying one more day with Dave home today, and then it’s back to school, back to work, and back to reality tomorrow again!

I love routine, and I’m excited for a New Year and to be able to find our “new normal”!

I have several more blog post ideas for the next few weeks (including another planner giveaway later this week!) but I’m always looking for more ideas if you want to leave them in the comments or shoot me an email!

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23 comments

  1. Rhonda

    01/03/2017

    I used two of your slow cooker recipes this week while hosting relatives from out of town: the mango salsa chicken, and the hot fruit salad. It was my first time trying them, and both recipes were a real hit! Thanks much.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yay — glad to offer some simple slow cooker recipes!

    [Reply]

  2. Jen

    01/03/2017

    Welcome back, I enjoyed your holiday update! I really like your “favorite things” posts, like today’s, so keep those posts coming! I like them because you have such useful and sometimes frugal ideas and items that I benefit from. Do you ever do “what worked and what didn’t” either for a month or year hindsight? I’m excited to see your future post ideas you have. I really liked some of your recent ones, and appreciate all you share in general! I need to go back through your archives to find more good reads and tips… 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Jen! This is a good post idea — I haven’t done anything like that in the past either. I’m not exactly sure how I’d work something like this — but I’ll definitely keep it in mind!

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  3. Abbie

    01/03/2017

    Love all the pictures of the children. My favorite is the one with everyone wearing their sunglasses and smiles. You have a lovely family!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Abbie — I think that’s my favorite picture too!

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  4. Francie

    01/03/2017

    Beautiful pics, Andrea! Happy New Year! http://www.supersimpleways.com

    [Reply]

  5. Lori

    01/02/2017

    Hi Andrea! So glad you had a relaxing holiday and break with your family! I managed to read one book over break and was pretty impressed with myself! May i ask what books you read over break? Also maybe an update on makeup/skincare products?

    Thanks so much for your blog! Look forward to it everyday and think your kids are very lucky to have you home everyday!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Lori!
    Here are the 3 books I read:
    1. While You Were Mine (Ann Howard Creel)
    2. The Silver Suitcase (Terrie Todd)
    3. Worth the Wait (Jamie Beck)

    The first 2 are set in WWII (one of my my favorite time periods to read about). They were so good, I never wanted to stop reading. The 3rd book is modern-day and sort of “soap operaish”. A little too romantic for my taste, but it was good and had a happy ending 🙂
    Also, all 3 of these were free Kindle books with Amazon Prime last week. They might still be free now too!

    [Reply]

  6. Liz

    01/02/2017

    Andrea, adorable pics! Question for you…I am moving several states away, and movers are packing me. I have kept my original boxes that my China goes in. The thought behind that was that if I move, I am able to pack my China by myself. However since the movers are packing me, they will not use those China boxes. I Want to let them do the packing because if something breaks, they will replace it. Do you think I should keep the China boxes in case I pack myself again for the next move? Should I trash them ? I hate To have extra boxes in the house, but they do come in handy when you move, if you pack yourself. Interstingly, due to your blog, my house is so decluttered that the movers are only charging $500 to completely packed me! Is worth it to me because my husband has already moved and I have two small children here by myself with no family to help. Thank you for your blog!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Good question — I actually saved my China boxes too because I hoped we would move out of our first house in a few years. Once we moved into our farmhouse, I trashed them because I hope we do NOT move for a very long time!
    If you think it will be a while before you move, or if you think you’ll pay movers again, I’d definitely toss the boxes. I think $500 is MORE than fair to pack up an entire house — so I’d opt for that next time anyway 🙂
    However, if you think you’ll be moving quite soon again, it might be worth saving the boxes.
    Happy Moving!

    [Reply]

  7. Jane

    01/02/2017

    Happy New Year! Love the posts about your “new normal” and how you changed your most productive time of day. I would like to read about how you or others get kids to give up the old toys. We have tried a few things, explaining we need to make room for new toys or that we are donating to kids that don’t have toys, trying to get them to put toys in one box and things that don’t fit will get donated etc. But we still have trouble separating our kids from their toys, even stuff they have outgrown and never play with. I’ve been sneaky and just gotten rid of stuff while they are sleeping but they always notice and get upset.
    Thanks.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Jane!
    I’ll be honest, there are plenty of times when I just toss things after the kids go to bed at night. Sometimes they notice, many times they never realize it’s gone!
    Also, I have always been one to purge regularly, so I think they are just used to it. They get new stuff, they get rid of old stuff, they get new stuff, etc.
    I definiteliy think personality type can come into play with this though too — if they are very sentimental about their things, it will be much harder to purge. I don’t have a ton of personal experience with this, but giving them some sort of space limit might help — like a box or a bin that they can keep whatever they want inside, but if it gets too full, they have to purge within a certain timeframe or you will get to purge it for them!
    Since I’m sure others will have more ideas, I went ahead and posted this question on my FB page! You can follow along with any responses here.

    [Reply]

  8. Alissa

    01/02/2017

    Hi Andrea! I enjoy reading your blog and hearing your perspective on so many things. I am currently pregnant with my first and have used your archives to help build our registry – thanks! I am curious about how you approach chores with your kids. I grew up helping out around the house quite a bit and want to instill a good work ethic in my future children. You typically have such a great approach of “all things in moderation” that I would enjoy a blog post on what that looks like for your family in this stage of life. Thanks Andrea! Happy 2017!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yay — congrats Alissa!
    I love that you’re already thinking so far in advance (I’ve been there before too!) That said, we honestly don’t do much with chores right now — at least not anything “formal” like with a chore chart, prizes, etc.
    Simon and James (2.5 and 17 mo.) really can’t do anything except help put toys away or put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket — and it’s really not all that “helpful” most of the time 🙂
    Nora is quite a bit more self-sufficient and can do a few chores quite easily. She makes her bed most mornings, she gets herself dressed, goes to the bathroom on her own, and can even brush her hair and put it in a ponytail. She can refill her own water cup, bring her dishes to the counter after she’s finished eating, put toys, crafts, games, and books away, and can (sort of) fold clothes!
    All the kids love to help me unload the dishwasher by giving me the plates, cups, and silverware to put away, and they are all really great at taking off their own shoes and coats — even James can do this!
    I do think that once they are all a bit older, we will implement more daily and weekly chores — and they will get rewards for doing them be punished for not doing them, but right now, I mostly just try to let them help when they think it’s fun, and lead by example (always putting toys and clothes away when we’re finished using them, putting dishes in the dishwasher, etc). I’d say you probably have at least 2-3 years before you need to worry much about chores 🙂

    [Reply]

    Olga Reply:

    Hi Andrea. Happy New Year to you and your family.
    I just wanted to mention that there is a laundry folding board, called a miracle fold. I bought mine at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
    Any kid can master this chore. I am huge advocate for kids growing as “givers” not only “receivers”, and my kids(10 and under) help me with more, than my 17 year old “baby-sister” to Mom.
    Right “tools” are just more encouraging. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Alissa Reply:

    Thanks so much for your insight! I really appreciate it! Yes, I may be putting the cart in front of the horse a bit 🙂 it is so great to have someone “one life stage” ahead of me share – thanks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — well better to plan ahead I guess 🙂

    [Reply]

  9. Karen

    01/02/2017

    Happy New year! Looking forward to what’s in store for you in 2017

    [Reply]

  10. Gabriela

    01/02/2017

    Happy New Year! May the Lord bring you much peace and joy this new year and His blessings fill your life!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Gabriela!

    [Reply]

  11. Vicki

    01/02/2017

    Hi Andrea, just curious about your annual photo albums. Do you journal in these books with dates and notes? Do you order several? One for each child? One for each set of grandparents?

    Thanks. Vvs

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Vicki, I think the answers to ALL your questions is “no” 🙂
    But you can read all about our digital photo books (and the kid’s yearly books) in this post!

    [Reply]