Lifestyle

Best. Movie. Ever.

by Vicki

I don’t normally watch movies. I don’t normally go to the theaters. I definitely don’t normally do a movie review. In all honesty, this will probably by my one and only.

But.

This movie begs to be watched, reviewed, and shared. I watched the entire movie having to remind myself to breath – because I was enjoying it just so much! Its been all the rage for a couple of weeks now so I know you probably won’t be surprised when I say:

Go watch The Greatest Showman.

Just do it. Watch it. Now. Stop reading this post and go watch the movie.

One of my good friends invited me to go and watch with her, and well, I guess I owe her ‘one’ for introducing me to my new favorite movie! Haha!

It was captivating, entertaining, heart breaking and interesting. You go on a journey with the characters and follow along as they develop and grow. The fact that this movie is loosely based on P.T. Barnum’s actual life is pretty cool. While it’s important to note that many details have been changed or dramatized, it is still an interesting snap shot of a different time in history. I love a good historical fiction and this one didn’t disappoint.

Now, it is a musical. But, wow. The music is fun, catchy and adds so much to the story-line. I came home and immediately downloaded the entire sound track to my phone. Its all we’ve been listening to for the past week (+) and my kids already know the words (they actually request certain songs).

I think the movie is good for the entire family. We will definitely be watching it with Peyton when it comes out on Rogers on Demand. She will love the dancing, music and circus acts! Its a clean movie and I believe there was minimal (any?) offending language. Gah! I can’t wait to watch it again! (Which is saying something for me because I normally don’t watch movies more than once).

Anyways, if you are still reading this, go and watch The Greatest Showman. Learn about the circus, P.T. Barnum’s life, and (of course) sit back and enjoy the show!

Go to this link to listen to one of the amazing songs from the soundtrack: A Million Dreams. 😉 My little {valentine’s} gift to you! Because I am a dork I’ve started singing this song to Dax as I rock him to sleep! (Haha, I am. I’m a total dork!).

Have a happy weekend!

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Lifestyle

Nursery Reveal…(finally).

by Vicki.

Months (and months and months) ago I shared the start of our nursery renovation. At the time I promised a final reveal within the month. Ha! It would have been better to promise it within the year. It took me quite a while to decide on all the little details and to be 100% happy with the final results. But now that I am, I love this room! I love how it looks and I think its my favorite room in the house!

Without further ado, here’s the final reveal of Dax’s Nursery!!!!!

The light is one of my favorite items in the room – an exciting Home Sense find! Its blown glass, wood details, and big bulb wonderment! We also added a little greenery in the form of a hanging plant to freshen the room up a bit and purchased the dresser/change table from a Facebook Auction site (its a beautiful green/grey which I absolutely love). The rug is an IKEA purchase, I love its natural look and it keeps my feet warm for the middle of the night feedings/checks.

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The closet is small in the room (this room is small in general) so we needed to find a way to make it more functional. We added these barnboard shelves along the top and sides and added these banana leaf woven baskets (from Walmart) for diapers, next size up clothing, bibs/beanies/suspenders, and shoes/moccassins/Padraigs. It looks great and is super useful for hiding and storing all of those baby things!

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I found this wire magazine rack at Home Sense (love me my Home Sense!) and knew it would work so well for Dax’s books, some receiving blankets and this fun apple pillow I bought from PatPat (all the way from Australia). The little house shelves were a find from Walmart (who is really upping its decor game lately) and when I saw them I knew I needed to take them  home with me.

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This bear blanket is from the very talented Willow and Wheat (she’s one of my favorite Canadian small shops – a rocking mom at home with her two boys making beautiful items). The monkey is a Jellycat stuffie – we always buy a “special” stuffie for our babies when they come home from the hospital. So far Dax hasn’t overly bonded with the monkey, but I still hold out hope.

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It only took 11 months but I finally printed off some newborn photos of Dax. This picture was taken by my very talented Aunt. Rita Zietsma Photography – she’s fun to work with, takes excellent photos, and captured our baby in his yummy newness. The table is from Winners and the lamp and frame are from Home Sense. The little house is from Walmart. Its actually a candle holder but I thought it was cute for Dax’s extra soothers. Can you tell that I am channeling my inner Sherry from Young House Love blog/podcast with the tiny house obsession?! I can’t walk by a little house in a store without at least putting it in my cart (and 99% of the time taking it home with me!).

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Of course this room wouldn’t be complete without a bit of macrame! This one is from an etsy shop in France, but I would suggest checking out Macrame by JM if you’re in the market!

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I found these frames at Home Sense. Theyre the perfect combination of woody knobyness and texture. The prints come from the etsy shop Synplus Printable Art. I love this wall! Mark worked hard making my shiplap dreams a reality and I just can’t get enough of the wide white planking! It was actually relatively easy to do and not expensive! I see many more shiplap walls in my future 🙂 (#sorrynotsorry Mark!).

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Well that’s all she wrote! I love all the little details, how the room works together, and how soft and calming it feels. It wasn’t so much of a renovation as a revamping: putting up shiplap, painting the walls white, adding a jute rug, hanging cute animal prints in awesome wood frames, adding some new furniture, and making the small closet functional.

Gah! I’m just so happy with this room reveal! Do you have a cute nursery you want to share? I love seeing what other people have done and gathering ideas for my next projects :). Share a link in the comments below!!

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My littlest dude and my biggest dude photobombing my photos! 

 

Faith · Faith Life · Lifestyle

New Year, Same Me.

by Vicki

Happy New Year! I know its a couple of weeks into January, but I think that saying “happy new year” is okay for the entire month of January…soooo “Happy New Year!” 😉

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Typically people start the new year with a host of resolutions and goals. We see the year ahead as fresh and as a clean slate, with the possibility of being the “best year yet”. I have to say, I love the idea of a new year. I love the hope that I feel the first day of January. A brand new year, an expanse of time ahead of me with unlimited possibilities.

For 2017 I decided to join the ranks of many and chose a simple word for the year as opposed to multiple resolutions. I chose simplicity and I loved it…for the first month and a half. I eagerly decluttered my house, organized cupboards and closets, used a daily planner, and talked Mark’s ear off about making our busy family schedule simpler. Then…Dax was born and I went into survival mode and didn’t really pay attention to anything else, least of all making sure that I was able to call 2017 “my year of simplicity”. I tried to come back to making our lives simple but I mostly focused on trying to get caught up on sleep (my 10 month still won’t sleep through the night, whats up with that?) and making sure my three kids were fed on a regular basis.

I liked the idea of having a word, but when it came down to it, for me, it became another ‘thing’ that I wasn’t accomplishing. I said I wanted to just use one word so that I wasn’t loading myself down with rules or unattainable goals for the year, but I think, in the end, the word was just a cover for all the unmentioned rules and goals that I saw encompassed in it. I felt like it was another thing (things) that I was failing at.

So, that brings us to this New Year. 2018. A ‘clean slate’. But really, just another 365 days to live our lives.

Maybe I will do a ‘word of the year’ again next year but I don’t think I have the brain power to think of one or the ability to separate it from a list of unaccomplishable goals for this year. No worries though, all is not lost for 2018.

Truthfully, I am continually assessing and reassessing who I am and what I want to accomplish. I try to make little tweaks here and there when I see the need for change. I think that’s really what life is about. Continually taking a look at who we are, where we are going, and making adjustments to make sure we are doing okay.

So I don’t really have set 2018 goals or resolutions. And other than ‘sleep’ I don’t have a word for 2018. But, I do have a list of things that I have been working on lately and that I hope to keep working on. So here goes:

  1. Stop striving for perfection. Its not going to happen this side of Heaven. Accept imperfection and find joy in trying my best no matter what the result.
  2. See the excitement and beauty in the “trying” and not just in the result. I have a hard time starting a project if I can’t see the final result being ‘the best’. Example? I struggle cleaning my kitchen if I know I don’t have the full 1.5 uninterrupted hours to get it done to a sparkling/crumb-free/sanitized result. I need to start being happy with a partially-clean-work-in-progress kitchen. I can’t just freeze and get nothing done because I don’t have uninterrupted time…ever.
  3. To spend time creating. Being creative doesn’t come naturally to me, but when I create something its feels so good! I love decorating my home, writing things on my chalkboards, trying my hand at calligraphy, DIYing, etc etc etc :D.
  4. Spend more time with God! My church is reading the entire Bible together this year and I am so excited about it! Its pretty special to know that what I am reading is being read by my church family too.
  5. To be vulnerable and real. I am imperfect. I have been hurt. My marriage has had mountains and valleys. Sometimes I don’t want to be a mom. I don’t always read my Bible. I cook sometimes and order food in sometimes. Sometimes my house is super clean and organized, and sometimes it looks like a tornado came through. Just showing the good sides of life can be nice, but it can also hinder true relationship. I have found that the more “me” I am, the better I have been able to build my tribe of people who I love and who love me.
  6. To keep trying to make healthier choices for me. Eating Trim Healthy Mama, dancing with my kiddos, and sleeping more (please, Dax!).
  7. To live like Jesus. To love like Jesus. To live for and love Jesus.

Nothing too crazy. No new morning routines, or exercise regimes, or scheduled cleaning systems. Just me, continuing to be me, striving to be the best me, and living for the God who created me.

So, here’s to the New year, but same me!

If you have decided to start this year off with some goals or resolutions, or just refocusing on things you’ve been working on already….let us know! We love to hear other people’s ideas for inspiration and encouragement!

Hope all of your 2018 dreams, hopes, desires, resolutions, and goals come true! Happy New Year!

 

Bookish Posts

My Top 10 Books of 2017 with a Few Extras Thrown In

By Katie


There are affiliate Links in this post.   They don’t cost you anything, but may give us something.

I haven’t done a bookish post in while, which may lead you to believe I haven’t been reading.  You would be wrong.   My life has not changed so much that I would put down my book!

In 2017, I read 146 books.  I have read some expected gems, some unexpected  gems, some expected disappointments and some unexpected disappointments.  Overall, it was a good reading year, though not as good as 2015 – it felt like every book I picked up that year was astounding.   It will be a hard year to beat.

Because list writing is fun, I am going to try to do my Top 10 books of 2017.

But before I start, there will be some caveats and disclosures:

There may be some honourable mentions, because I find it impossible to list my best books.  Some people have a Top 10 of all time.  I don’t think I would be able to limit myself to 10 – I could possibly do a Top 100, but not listed in order of favourite-ness.  I don’t think I am decisive enough (see what I did there :P) to list my favourites, but  mostly, I don’t want to hurt the feelings of books that I love, and there are definitely more than 10 books that I love.

Also, I finished re-reading the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Narnia series this year.  We all know that these are incredible books that would make it into pretty much any Top lists.  I will not list them in mine though because I don’t want them to take precious spots in my list.

So, here is a not-so-definitive list of My Top 10 Books of 2017 with a Few Extras Thrown In.

51naG-FeFpL._SL160_The Shadow of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (along with the 2nd  book: The Angel’s Game).  This was a completely unexpected gem.  I picked this book up from the library as I was walking by the shelf because I liked the cover.  I couldn’t put it down.  This is a gothic mystery and romance, but not an icky romance.  Its a romance about love.  And books.  And the love of books.    Which makes this a perfect novel.   Dealing with the loss of his mother, Daniel’s father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books where he is allowed to choose one book.  The book he chooses is so arresting he tries to find other books by the author.  But they all have been systematically destroyed.  If you want to know why, I suggest you pick up the book.

51PMoNFpnuL._SL160_The Sparrow/Children of God by Mary Doria Russell– I actually read The Sparrow last December, and spent the next 11 months scouring used books stores for the sequel Children Of God.  These 2 books read like it should be 1 very large novel as The Sparrow ends in a very unsatisfying way.   These novels tell the story of a distant planet, and the Jesuits journey to discover it, both for science and for God.  Like any exploring group, they misunderstand the social and economic structure of people living there and so disrupt the order.  The outcomes are both devastating 51bDd6BQOCL._SL160_and beneficial for all involved.   Children of God tells the story of the long-term outcome of the interference from Earth.  I loved these books because they dissect the devotion a believer has to God, both in dealing with other’s tragedy and his own.  The journey back to faith can be difficult and seemingly impossible, but also earth-shattering and beautiful.

 

41fHxOhTrxL._SL160_A Constellation of Vital Phenomena  by Anthony Marra –  This was a re-read for me and I loved it this time around as much as the first time.  The story of the decades (centuries?) long war in Chechnya is told in one of my favourite ways: slowing walking through the present while diving deeply into the past of the characters.   Set in 2004, but reaching back far into history, we learn the story of a few inconsequential people whose lives are torn apart because of wars that don’t benefit them.   Unravelling the mystery of what binds them together, Sonja and Akhmed learn of betrayal, coincidence and forgiveness.

51iLpdD3PwL._SL160_The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker– This was a completely unexpected gem! Set in turn-of-the-century New York, 2 mythical creatures unexpectedly meet, one a Kabbalistic creature made of Clay, the other a fire-born Syrian creature captured in a copper flask.  Their connection is mystical and their story is a combination of fairy tale, folk lore, magic and ancient history.

 

51p7+rEf+TL._SL160_Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys– Telling the story of the little-known sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, this novel weaves the story of refugees in Eastern Europe fleeing before the Red Army in World War II.  With incredible character development, (the Shoemaker has become one of my all time favourite characters.  And that list is also not definitive), the outcome of horrible tragedy made my mother’s heart weep.

 

51kvVxIyCFL._SL160_The DoveKeepers by Alice Hoffman-  When I picked up this book, I was informed by a number of people that it was in their (definitive) Top Ten of All Time list.  I can see why.   Telling the story of Fall of Masada and expounding on historian Josephus’ claim that 2 women and 5 children survived the mass killing, Hoffman creates 4 strong, independent and very different women through whose eyes we can witness the lives, loves and losses of 900 people 2000 years ago.

41OZMb3IWvL._SL160_When Breathe Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi– This memoir deals with death and dying and knowing that its going to happen to you.  After nearly completing all his training, neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi learns he has aggressive, stage IV cancer.  Wrestling with questions of what makes life worth living, even in the face of dying, this book is a must read.

 

41XUJ28Aq+L._SL160_The Circle by Dave Eggers – I enjoyed this book immensely, but  I am mostly including it because I think it’s a must read for everyone who got an Amazon Echo or Google Home for Christmas  :D.   In a world where everything can be known, should it be?  How close is our society to believing that Privacy is Theft?  This fictional tale tells the story of large online company that connects people socially, economically and finally politically.  What are we giving up in order to be connected?

41fDi8fUSOL._SL160_The 100 year Old Man who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson– I loved this book because its about a journey while reflecting on the past.  This book is unbelievable and funny but also well written and engaging.  Allan Karlsson has lived an unbelievable life and decides he isn’t done living it on his 100th birthday at the old age home.  So he leaves, and continues to live, while stealing $50 million from a gang.  You can imagine what happens next…

51cZQHwLd8L._SL160_The Orphan’s Master’s Son by Adam Johnson– After reading Escape from Camp 14 a few years ago, I have sought out books about North Korea.  This Pulitzer Prize winner delves into many different areas of life in North Korea using Jun Do, a professional kidnapper, to navigate the treacherous political landscape of the corrupt and cruel dictatorship.

I can not fathom that while I sit in my warm house with a full belly there are still labour camps and  starvation and deprivation of individual autonomy to this magnitude in this world.   I realize there are a lot of places where social injustice runs rampant, but there is something about North Korea that seems to strip its people of their humanity.  While reading Escape from Camp 14, what struck me to my core was how the author told of competing for food with his mother.  What kind of life does one have to live in order to see your children as competitors not your loves for whom you would give up your life?  I would argue that mothers facing a wide variety of horrors have continued to put their children’s lives ahead of their own:  what does one have to experience in order to have that mother’s-love stripped away so completely?

51RVsEqgUJL._SL160_Bel Canto by Ann Patchett – I love Ann Patchett.  Her ability to weave a tale is almost unparalleled.  This novel is of a hostage situation in a South American country in which unexpected love blossoms.  The only thing that would make this novel better is if you skip the last 3 pages.  While they don’t ruin the book, they take it down a few notches.

 

61SY37C4a0L._SL160_The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – Imagining the Underground Railroad as an actual Railroad with trains and conductors and stations, Whitehead tells the story of an escaped slave looking for the freedom to live her life while always running from the slave catcher who just sees himself as upholding the law.    The gross injustices that blacks faced in pre-civil war America are investigated and laid bare as a people try to build a community that welcomes them.  This novel won a Pulitzer with good reason.

Well.  There you have it.  My Top 10 as told with 14 books.

Have you read any of these titles?  Do any sound interesting enough to pick up?  What were your favourites in 2017 – hit me up – my TBR list has only 2 or 3 hundred books on.  I need to bulk it up 😉

Lifestyle

A Story of a Birth

By Katie


 

Hi y’all.

(I had twins and it turned me into a Southern belle.)

(And if this post doesn’t make sense: I am tired, because, Surprise Surprise, there were 2 babies in me.  And 2 babies equals 2x the babies as 1 baby.  I wasn’t expecting that, to be honest….)

Anyways, 3 weeks ago ( how was it 3 weeks already!?!) Louisa and Beatrix came into the world screaming their heads off.

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Let me tell you the story.  It will be short because I hear Louisa grunting and she will want to eat.  Again.

My section was booked for 8 am, but we got bumped for an emergency c section.  We didn’t make it into the operating room until around 11 am.  It was hard to wait, though I tried to enjoy it, knowing I wouldn’t have peaceful moments where I could read my book relatively uninterrupted for a long  while.  But I was also eager to meet the twins.  So my emotions were all tossed up.

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When we were finally brought to the operating room, I remembered how much I hate surgery.  There are all these machines and people and medical stuff and modesty doesn’t seem important (well, my modesty, everyone else was allowed to stay clothed.)   But I was brave, and stepped into the room all by my self, without having to be corralled and forcibly pushed in because I was trying to escape (this is what happened with Atticus’ birth.  True story)

Kingston is a teaching hospital, so for every doctor/nurse there is a student/resident/follower.  It makes for a very full operating room.  Throw in 2 pediatric teams and a bunch of medical students excited to see a twin c-section and it felt like a party.

A party where I am cut open like an offering.

This was my worst c section.   I don’t know if my reaction to the anesthesia is changing or if its a different cocktail of drugs every time, but I feel more out of it with each section.  However, this section I was able to see my babies be born which was the most incredible sight in the world.  They both came out crying loudly and I was overcome with all the emotions.  That feeling meeting your baby (ies) for the first time and thinking “I know you,”  is incredible.

The pediatric teams on standby didn’t even wait for the cord of Beatrix to be clamped before they left saying that they clearly were healthy babies.  There are a lot of complications that can come with twin pregnancies, and I am so thankful for their health.

Like I said, this was my worst section.  Will couldn’t really hold either twin on me because I was so out of it.  This breaks my heart, but Will did an admiral job watching and snuggling them while I was being stitched up. 🙂

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Louisa reminds me of Vivien in both looks and character.  She took to breastfeeding like it’s her right and will let me know if there is something wrong.   Or if she is waking up.  Or if she just wants to be heard.  I am so excited to have another loud child.  (<- that is sarcasm.)

Beatrix, who looks like Atticus, took longer to get used to feeding and still likes to take her time.  She is the calmer one, so far.

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Atticus and Vivien absolutely love their sisters.  I am surprised with (mostly) how gentle they are.  It is amazing to see my 4 kids together.  My heart overflows with joy.

Lifestyle

The Twins are Coming! (tomorrow)

By Katie


I haven’t posted in a while. This twin pregnancy is kicking my butt, and I am not being gracious about it.  I am glad that I am not married to me (don’t laugh, it is actually a thing.  I don’t think I would be a good spouse for me.)   But I do have so much more empathy and respect for people who suffer from chronic pain or disease, especially since they don’t have an end date, and I do.

I can also commiserate with Rebecca:  I feel like a have 2 nations warring in my womb.   When one starts rolling and kicking, inevitably the other starts.   This doesn’t bode well for when they are ex-utereo .

Also, I have no brain cells left, so if the words I write make no sense, I am sorry.

Buuuuut Beatrix and  Louisa are coming tomorrow!  And we couldn’t be more excited!  Every morning, Atticus and Vivien climb into my bed to say good morning to the babies (through my belly button, its the cutest ever!) and we count the days until they come on our fingers.  They both agree that 1 day is not very many!

We did a lot of renovating in the last few months: we redid our upstairs bathroom, re-floored the whole upstairs, re-painted the upstairs and redid some of the trim upstairs.  I was really hoping it would all be done by the time the twins arrived, but last Thursday I told Will all renos were stopping because I couldn’t keep up with the house any more, mostly due to exhaustion and a very sore back (you would have a sore back too if you had 500 lbs hanging off your front!!)  Since then, we slaughtered and butchered 2 chickens, repainted the doors upstairs and changed their handles and hinges, and finished hanging trim.    But other than that, we are done with renoing.   For at least the next week or so 😛  (The only room we didn’t do upstairs is the future nursery.  So Will isn’t going to get too much time off.  Sucker. )

The girls will be sleeping in our room for the first 4-5 months, depending on how it goes.  They will be sharing a crib (I figure they have shared like 1 square foot for 9 months, a crib will seem positively huge!)  It was so fun to be able to set up the area for them.

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I went shopping with Vicki to buy some newborn clothes.  It was really hard to do because  I have big babies who don’t fit in newborn sizes.  Atticus almost had to go home in a onsie piled high with blankets because the outfit I bought didn’t fit at all.  But they say my twins should be in the 6 lb range.  And the newborn clothes say they fit 6 lbs, so hopefully it will be fine.  These is the coming home sleepers I have for them:

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My mom went shopping with me to get receiving blankets and she bought me a beautiful blanket to cuddle them in.   Atticus picked out the receiving blankets, informing me that polka dots are the way to go.  Trendsetter or follower, I don’t know.

I bought cute little bonnets from Jess Lodder at Two Lil Otters.   They were a steal of a deal at only $8 each!  I bought newborn sizes so I hope the girls don’t come out with gigantic heads (like a certain son of mine…)  I can’t wait to put them on Beatrix and Louisa!  Jess makes a lot of different things for kids.  The quality is great and I got them really quickly.   If you are in the market for cute baby things, I totally recommend her 🙂

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I am not totally ready yet.   But I think I am ready enough for the twins.  They won’t know what is missing, right?

Lifestyle

Its Beginning to Look a Little Like Christmas

by Kara

 

Its November 28. Christmas is less than a month a way.

This is the extent of my Christmas decorations so far:

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I bought this tree on Saturday from Michael’s. My husband set it up while I was out getting some groceries. And this is all we have done so far. Which means, I am way behind schedule.

In the past, I have been known to decorate in October. I love Christmas, I love Christmas decorations, and I love Christmas music. This year, the months of October and November have slipped away, and it may be December before I finally decorate (insert shocked face here, then dramatically swoon). Unless I make decorating a priority for today.

The beginning of the Christmas season hasn’t completely escaped my notice. I have been listening to Christmas music for well over a month. I have also bought some of Zoe’s Christmas gifts, the Christmas gifts for Tsjibbe’s family, and some of the gifts for my family.

As this is my first Christmas with my baby girl, I have a strong desire to spoil her. Every toy, teddy, or book I see, I think “I should get that for Zoe! She would love it for Christmas!”. I have this vision of her sitting in a pile of presents, being so excited for every gift she opens. But let’s be honest: She’s 10 months. She’ll be more excited for the wrapping paper than the toys hidden underneath. So Tsjibbe and I made a tough decision (tough for me, obvious for him). We are going to get 4 gifts: Something to wear, something to read, something she wants, and something she needs.

She’s getting two something she wants, because I already bought her two toys. But I’m excited about starting a 4 gift tradition. I hope it will help keep our Christmases simple. It will also let me know when I’m “done” buying Christmas gifts. I find that, since I started buying gifts so early, I have a tendency to keep buying gifts. Since I bought gifts on sale, I have a tendency to think “Well, I’ve only spent…”, and then go and spend well over our Christmas budget. Now I know I’m done buying her toys, and I can get her something to read, something to wear, and something she needs.

In all honesty, she will be getting more than 4 gifts every year. On December 5th we celebrate the Dutch Sinterklaas, and she will get a book and pajamas. Also, I will buy her a Christmas ornament, because it is never too early to start collecting Christmas decorations.

Speaking of Christmas decorations… I have to go decorate my house!