Valentine’s Day

I read some things this week here and there online about Valentine’s Day. Some people think it’s overrated. We should love each other every day of the year, right?

If that’s the only day of the year you show love to your spouse, your family, then it reeks of phoniness to profess your love with words flowers and cards and a fancy night out. But if you all express your love in many ways all year long, I don’t think there is anything wrong with celebrating a little. I look at it the same way as birthdays and Christmas- those are times we often go to a little extra bother to make things special. If we did those special things every day, they wouldn’t be special anymore, now would they?

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That being said, I think it’s an awesome idea to randomly have special days interspersed throughout the year. Why can’t a husband bring his wife flowers in April or August when there is nothing special going on? It’s always fun to give or get a special note or card any time of the year. And why not use your china and have a candlelight supper sometime when there isn’t a special occasion?

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But sometimes life gets crazy and you put off that random special night… and suddenly it’s Valentine’s Day or someone’s birthday. Sometimes it’s the reminder you need to finally add a few special touches to the day.

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(Kierra wanted to use this packing paper I salvaged for them to make a V Day mural of sorts. I was so tickled by the tic-tac-toe games!)

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Last year I did a little decorating and we had a fancy little supper here at home. Kierra was so enthralled that she decided Valentine’s was her favorite time of the year- at least until her birthday and then Christmas rolled around! She had been looking forward to Valentine’s Day for quite awhile.

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That’s what’s so fun about having kids- their enthusiasm for the small things is (sometimes!) contagious. Without two little girls who love pretty things, I would be inclined to keep things simpler.

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And really, we did keep it simple- and cheap, at least on my part. For pretty much the cost of a strawberry cake mix and frosting and some chocolate chips, we had the makings of a special evening that thrilled the girls and made us happy, too.

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(the girls picked out the cake mix, the toppings, the heart-shaped pan)
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Cake. Candles. Hearts. Romantic instrumental music on Pandora. Homemade Sparkling Grape Juice. Goblets and China. What more could anyone want, really?

Well, besides a crazy family, that is!

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And seriously, the flowers Kendall bought for us didn’t hurt, either. I was secretly hoping for flowers- not in a “if you love me, you’ll buy me flowers” way, but in a “it’s been awhile and I’d like some again” kind of way. And he delivered- the roses are for me, the carnations for the girls.

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Gifts aren’t my love language, so I am never offended if Kendall doesn’t go all out- in fact, there are times that I have begged him not to get me anything, including flowers. I would rather he save money on gifts and bring home supper now and then when I just.can’t.do.it.any.more. But that makes these flowers all the more special!

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day to you all, and may you feel loved and blessed every single day of the year!

A Simple Christmas

It was one of the best Christmases ever, if not The Best. It wasn’t that anything spectacular happened. It was a relatively low key month. I don’t go crazy with baking cookies and putting up Christmas décor or anything like that because…well, it could drive me crazy! If I know that baking 49 different kinds of cookies is going to end up with me in a bad mood, feeling stressed, and yelling at my girls, then why bother? It’s not like we need more sugar at this time of the year! The same goes for those other things. I considered an advent activity, but after thinking it over, it seemed like something that would end up being overwhelming, so I decided not to. Maybe next year.

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What made this Christmas good was not because of all the amazing, heart-warming things we did, but just a deep sense that life is good, that we are blessed. 2013 brought some difficult decisions and changes, but for some reason, I look back and call it the best year we’ve had in a long time.

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It’s just so good to enjoy the small things of life. After Lauren was stillborn over 4 years ago, it was really rough for awhile. There were months of deep grief. After Emily was born, I thought things would be better, and they were for awhile, but then came months and months of hormonal problems and depression and high stress which was likely exacerbated by Emily being a high maintenance baby and toddler. A lot of the next couple years are a rather dark blur. There were plenty of good times to be sure, but it just felt like I was living under a dark cloud.

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It’s so much better now. Supplements and changing my diet helped a lot, I think. I lost 30 pounds this year, and while I was hoping for more, I am glad for the positive benefits that have accompanied that. I haven’t been exercising faithfully for too long, and I know if I am going to make it through another grey winter, I am going to need to find a way to get motivated. I trained for and ran in a 5k this year, and while I am NOT a fast runner, I found running to be amazing for my mood. It’s hard to do in the winter, though. I don’t have a good place to run right now, but I do miss it. I hope I can get back to it in the spring and maybe make another 5k one of my goals… as well as crushing my previous time!!

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I didn’t set out to write about diet and exercise. Most of the time I don’t even want to think of it! I have gotten so lazy lately and my diet is far from being on track. I have to break my sugar habit again now, because of all the holiday treats! Anyway, my point is that overall, I feel so much better than I did for so long, mentally and physically. I can tell that it’s winter, though. I always feel worse in the winter.

So yes, our simple Christmas was perfect. We got together with Kendall’s family at a cabin in November, and we were at my brother’s place last weekend with my family minus the sister in Belize who we really missed. We opened our gifts on Christmas eve while enjoying the warm fireplace, and then had the ones of Kendall’s family that were around and not working for lunch on Christmas day, which netted a few more presents, much to the delight of our girls. We have one more family gathering next week and that’s it for the holidays.

I am looking forward to the year ahead. I haven’t made any official New Year’s resolutions, at least not yet, but I would like to make a few this year that I can work toward. I don’t make absolutes like “I won’t eat any junk food for a year” or “I will not lose my temper in 2014” but I want to make progress in areas like that. I find that when I make small goals to meet on the way to an ultimate goal (such as weight loss) I feel motivated when I reach the small goal to keep going toward the next one.

I will leave you with a few Christmas pictures.

I bought a gingerbread house kit because there was no way I was gonna make one from scratch. It actually tasted good, but I wasn’t fond of the candy included… or my gingerbread decorating skills. Oh wait! I could just say the girls put it together by themselves, and that’s why it’s not perfect. Yes, that’s the story I will go with! {cough, cough!} Oh well, they were happy!

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These girls are only 3 months apart. They had a lot of fun together. 100_8370

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Christmas eve… I found the camera out in the cold vehicle, so it didn’t cooperate very well for picture taking. Not that it ever cooperates that well. I would buy a new camera if I wasn’t so confused about what to buy for what I want. There are too many options!

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We got a Bible for Emily. She was beyond thrilled. That was easily her favorite gift. The second best was a knock-off Doc McStuffin-ish coloring book!100_8405

Christmas day they got almost more gifts than they did Christmas eve from us. It doesn’t take much to make them happy, so they were thrilled. I think they got way more than enough!!

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And that pretty much wraps up the year for us.  Only 5 more days left until a brand new year. I am looking forward to it!