Dec 12, 2014

Give us TODAY

When Jesus taught us to pray he said "Give us TODAY our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11).


The longer I'm a Mom the more convinced I am that the word TODAY was very intentional.

For today, I don't have enough energy. For today, I don't have enough self-control. For today, I lack patience.  For today, I don't have kindness.  But you know who does?  God! 

On Saturday Davy's whole body was covered in hives and his face swelled up.  He took a bite of his brother's oatmeal, made with Nutramigen, a formula for babies who are allergic to cow's milk, and Davy reacted to it.  Even the small amount of milk protein in the few bites of oatmeal he stole was more milk protein than his body could handle.  That day, I lacked faith.

That night, the milk protein in the Nutramigen gave James a rash and a tummy ache.  He couldn't sleep. He projectile vomited more than once. It wasn't a restful night for mama. The next day, I lacked energy.

On Sunday afternoon, I woke up from a nap in so much pain that I fell after I got out of bed. I had to text Casey to come help me stand up while my back continued to spasm. I was in too much pain to do much of anything. That day, I lacked joy.

On Monday the doctor gave me a prescription to help with the pain. I took one of the pills before bed and it completely knocked me out.  I didn't wake up all night. I know James doesn't sleep through the night.  I know he must have woken up crying for me and I didn't hear him. I was too out of it and Casey was out of town. The guilt was overwhelming. That night, I lacked forgiveness.

On Tuesday, Casey called his trip short so he could come home and help me.  Instead of helping, he came home and almost immediately fell asleep. He woke up a few hours later with a fever. He had the flu.  A hurt back. Three kids under two. And now a sick husband.  Those next days, I lacked peace.

God knows that we as mamas don't have enough energy.  We lack patience.  We can only read the same book and sing the same song so many times. We worry about our kids. We struggle to find peace (and quiet). We as mamas just can't do it all.  But God CAN.  And so EVERY single day God gives us just enough.  He lends us His energy. He lends us His patience.  He grants us His gentleness. God knows where we are lacking.  And instead of judging us or condemning us, he gives us what we need.  All we have to do is ask.  God will give us TODAY our daily bread. 

As mamas, let us all pray for the ability to make it through TODAY.  I sometimes get so caught up worrying about tomorrow, that I forget about the importance of now.  And sometimes, I can't imagine what tomorrow will look like.  So ask God to give you enough for today, because when you are surrounded by toddler, the messes and the tantrums and the demands, you don't even know what you need tomorrow.

So today, God, give me my daily bread.  Give me patience.  Give me energy. Give me gentleness. Give me kindness. Give me self-control. Give me peace. Give me joy. Give me goodnesss.  Give me faith. Give me my daily bread. Give me enough for TODAY.

Dec 5, 2014

Making Baby's First Christmas Magical: 10 Tips and Traditions

Last year was a Christmas I will never forget. It was the twins first Christmas and it was magical. Simply magical. We didn't do anything fancy. We didn't buy tons of gifts. But it was perfect for our family and set the tone for Christmases to come.

 

 

Your baby's first Christmas is a chance to really discuss what YOUR family holidays will look like. You and your spouse both came into your marriage and parenthood with your own set of holiday ideas and traditions. Some of the traditions may work for your family, but some of them won't. Last year, Casey and I got to decide what our traditions would look like. We both had things we grew up with that we wanted to incorporate for our family and could pick and choose what we kept. We also got to start new family traditions that neither of us grew up with. This year, we have another baby celebrating his first Christmas and so once again we are really discussing what we want a Crazy Cass Christmas to look like.

The thing to remember about traditions is that these are OUR traditions. You won't see decorating a gingerbread house or holiday crafts on our list because that's not our thing as a family. Maybe someday I'll have crafty kids and we'll make ornaments and string garland. Not this year. Not this family. Traditions can't be forced. They have to work for your family and be special to your family. I have a few traditions that work for us to share, but I really encourage you to put the baby(ies) to bed and have a heart to heart with your spouse about what Christmas looks like.

 

Advent

I grew up with Advent being a focus of the season. We started the season with the hanging of the greens at church. We went to the church advent festival. At home, we (some years) lit an advent wreath. We always had chocolate advent calendars. It was a season of preparation for the coming of Christ.

I really want my kids to have that same experience of the season and Casey agrees. This year we are doing a devotional each night called The Advent Book. It is a great book for toddlers through adults and walks through the Christ story one day at a time. We also have an advent calendar. It isn't a chocolate calendar with opening doors, but it will do! I made one using paper bags and twine that has trinkets like balls and jingle bells, pretzels, Annie's crackers, lollipops, and stickers. I have to admit, I haven't actually put anything in most of the bags yet - I'm filling as we go!

The Advent Book and the Calendar Bag for the day.
Our Advent Calendar.
It isn't chocolate but it's pretty great!
 

Come back next week for a full post on Crazy Cass Advent including an advent calendar tutorial a full review of The Advent Book.

 

Holiday Card

I'm passionate about our Christmas cards. I love designing them. I love mailing them. I love getting them. Every year, I keep a Christmas card and they go onto the wall. I love looking back through the tale of our marriage and life in Christmas cards and can't wait to continue this tradition with the boys. I haven't mailed our 2014 cards quite yet, but after they are mailed I promise to share our card here with all of y'all. Until then, here is last year's card. This year we get to feature all three little Casses!

Front.
Back.

Christmas Train

I grew up with a train going around the tree making stops at Snow Village. Throughout our marriage, Casey and I collected a few Snow Village pieces and inherited a few from my mom, but never bought a train. Well, this year we have our first train for the boys to enjoy. It isn't as fancy as the Lionel I grew up with (which is now at my brothers house and I can't wait to take the boys to see it!) but our train is perfect for where our family is. We have a Geotrax Train visiting the Little People North Pole Village. Perfection.

An added bonus of our train and village? Having toys for the boys under the tree has (so far) meant that they have no interest in trying to pull the ornaments off the tree. Ornaments are boring compared to a choo choo they can play with. I only had to say "look instead of touch" or "touch with one finger" a few times the first day.

 

Ornaments

We (luckily) have three ornament collections going and plan to continue them so when our boys are bigger and ready to decorate their own trees they each have ornaments to start them off. We inherited the beginning of an ornament collection from Casey's parents and bought the rest of the Gorham Silver Snowflakes to fill in the missing years and now buy a new snowflake each year. We also collect Swarovski Crystal Snowflakes in both clear and gold crystal. If we ever decide to have a fourth child we will need to find another type of snowflake to add to the formal snowflake tree! This year, we didn't hang any of the crystal ornaments but we will continue buying them during these years with small hands.

A Gorham Silver Snowflake on our 2014 tree.

Baking

I love to bake, but right now with three kids under two I rarely get to. This year isn't my baking year. I hope in a few years to bake with my boys and see my kitchen covered in flour, sugar, icing, and sprinkles. I look forward to seeing their joy and teaching them how to bake (with some fun measurement math mixed in). I think it is important to recognize your limitations with traditions. While this is a tradition I love, in this season of life it isn't going to happen. And that's okay! Traditions don't all have to start during baby's first Christmas. When this starts happening again, I have to make Casey's very favorite Thumbprint Cookies and Depression Cookies using his mom's recipes. (Maybe adapted to be dairy free though.)

Santa Pictures

Last year, we took our first Santa picture. The story is pretty hilarious (and I promise to share it when I share our 2014 (still to be taken) Santa picture) and the picture is adorable. We have our Santa picture hanging on the wall this year and I look forward to adding new pictures every year!

Jammies

Every year on Christmas Eve, I got one gift to open. Every year it was Christmas jammies. This way my parents knew I would be wearing decent non-stained jammies for Christmas morning photos. This is a tradition that must continue! Last year the twins got adorable jammies for their first Christmas and I have no doubt we will buy jammies every year.

Dinosaurs in Christmas Hats. Perfect Jammies!

Christmas Eve

For Casey and I, determining our Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning traditions was the most difficult. On all of the other topics our feelings and traditions could blend. For Christmas Eve, that just didn't work.

I grew up attending the midnight service at church every Christmas Eve after a lazy family dinner at home. Casey's family did family gifts on Christmas Eve. In fact, once his brothers got married and had their own families his family did their Christmas get together on Christmas Eve. Because family is a priority, we spend Christmas Eve at Casey's parents' house. Pre-kids we could leave in time to make the midnight candlelight service at church but you can't go to a midnight service with babies.

This year, we are going to attend an afternoon family service before heading to see Nano and Papa. It's a balance of both Christmas Eve traditions and both Christmas priorities: Christ and family!

Christmas Morning

We don't know our Christmas morning traditions yet. We know that we want to be at home. We know we will do Santa. We know Santa leaves at least a few of the gifts unwrapped. Beyond that, we're still figuring it out. I would love to hear your Christmas morning traditions! Do you unwrap gifts one at a time? Do you all just tear into them? Do you do stockings first? Do you have a special Christmas breakfast?

Christ Focused

Above all, we strive to make Crazy Cass Christmas Christ focused. He is the reason. He is our purpose. He is above all else. In everything we do, especially during this season, we need Christ at the center.

 

 

This post is part of the #Countdown2XMas blogger series. For more posts in the series check here!

 

Favorites for Friday!

A very quick post highlighting a few FAVORITES this week!

It's the holiday season and this month I am counting down to Christmas with some really amazing bloggers. Each day, a blogger is sharing a favorite Christmas idea, recipe, memory, or story. So far we have had some awesome posts!



Day One: My kids aren't quite old enough for glue and glitter but you better believe I'm filing this fun macaroni ornament for next year.  So cute and toddler appropriate!
Day Two: This mama has a fun idea for using craft foam to make bath time fun and festive.  I need to get myself to Michael's to buy foam so we can try this out!
Day Three: Need a gift idea for your little's teacher?  Try this fun wreath!
Day Four: You can WIN a set of holiday Jamberry wraps. I am not a nail polish person. I love the relaxation of a manicure but typically get my nails buffed not polished, but these fun wraps for the holidays are appealing!
Day Five: A hilarious tale of DIY advent calendar making with little helpers.

I am up for Day Six and will be posting about holiday traditions with small ones.  Christmas traditions just don't look the same with three under two!


To follow along as we Countdown to Christmas, check in here and see all of the posts!

Dec 2, 2014

Fa La La La La

As a firm believer mild observer of the no Christmas before Thanksgiving tradition (who is married to a firm believer), we have almost finished decking our halls. Despite my pleadings that it is a short Christmas season and our boys would love to have the tree and train for longer, Casey didn't get the decorations out of the attic until Sunday. And I love him for his staunch love of Thanksgiving! So, I spent Monday furiously decorating. Which means today I'm heading to Michael's to get the few things we need to fill in the gaps. But, today is the Christmas decor linkup. So today you can see our mostly complete decorations!

The Dining Room.
Walking on the wild side attempting to use some of my mercury glass with two toddlers.
Also, new hutch!
Foyer.
The Kitchen.
Love this style of German wooden decor.
I have a beautiful (and huge) wooden one that spins, but no safe place for it to sit this year.
Fun in the Family Room.
Tree for Christmas Cards and Twine to display all of our past Christmas cards.
Next on my to do list: design our 2014 card!
Mantle.
And KoKo the surprise manger visitor.
Nativity in the Family Room.
The boys QUICKLY learned how to make Cowboy Santa sing and dance. They are loving it
Sweet dog on the undecorated tree,
Decorated tree!
Geotrax going around the Tree and visiting North Pole village.
I grew up with Christmas trains and I'm excited to share this tradition with my boys!
The Reason for the Season. Our nativities.





Not pictured: the small tree in the gameroom. It used to go in my office (so it's pink and green!) but the boys were excited to see it in their play space.

Not done: Advent calendar. A bit more red on the tree. A bit more red on the mantle. Without greenery (which would be too tempting to pull on) it needs more oomph.