Saturday, December 22, 2012

Pre-Christmas Ramblings

I know it’s three days before Christmas. And I know that there are roughly 742 other things I should be doing right now besides this, but I am taking a moment to reflect. Indulge me, won’t you? : )

The holidays are upon us, as we all know. What I didn’t realize was that the holidays would tackle and attempt to maim me with all their festivities and joyfulness and craziness and—holiday-ness. We all feel the pressure of Christmas and all that it entails, but this year it all started to feel so completely unnecessary to me.

Don’t get me wrong; I love Christmas and the Christmas music and the trees, the lights, and the overall magic of it all. My girls have literally going insane with anticipation. But that’s part of the problem I’m seeing this year. The anticipation. Anticipation/insanity!

I guess this is the problem: I look around and I see people that are stressed, worn out and grumpy because they’ve spent the last few weeks or months trying to find the perfect gift for everyone on their list. They’re spending money they shouldn’t buying gifts no one needs for people who may or may not appreciate what they’re being given.

I’ve been rereading Dave Ramsey’s ‘Total Money Makeover’ as we attempt to get our finances in check once and for all. One of the things he says in the book that really hit me hard this time was—in summary—that the problem we usually face with being smart with our money is that we get so hung up on what everyone else is thinking of us. And for me, that’s so true.

This year we are spending very little on Christmas. Mr. Bug and I are not buying gifts for one another and our gifts for the munsters are small and inexpensive. They’re getting a few little candies in their stockings, PJs to open Christmas Eve (all of which I found either on clearance or secondhand), a book for each of the girls, and a DVD to share. Their big gift this year is a fish tank (which I got for free) and we will all go together to pick out a few little fish to go in it. We also got Eden a drawing pad and some pencils (since she has maintained her artist dreams for months now) and we got Sissy a little kit to make her own garden stepping-stone. Judah gets a Cars chair that I found secondhand for $5. All told we will probably spend a little under $60 on our kids for Christmas this year. I think $20 per kiddo is pretty good, don’t you? : )

As far as the rest of our family goes, the total for our brothers and sisters and moms and dads and nephews will end up at around $5 per person. At least that’s what I tried to keep it to. That sounds like so little and for some people it’s completely incomprehensible, but I tried to make each gift, however small, personal to its recipient. I’m hoping everyone will be excited with what we’ve got for them.

All that to say that I’ve been fighting off that urge this year to go overboard with the commercial meaning of Christmas. I wanted to get Eden and Adaleine’s teachers pretty gifts that would make them “oohhh” and “ahh,” but this year they got hot chocolate tied up with a pretty ribbon. For some reason, the teacher gifts were the hardest for me to skimp on and the biggest victory when I overcame that urge. With the girls attending a private Christian school there are a lot of families there with considerable income. We are able to send Eden to school there with scholarship assistance, which we are so grateful for! I think I feel the need at times to compensate for that by going overboard with gifts and such to show how ‘no one else is any better than us.’

It’s so silly, isn’t it? Maybe it’s just me and I’m letting the commercial season take its toll on me. Maybe it’s just the cloudy weather and the fact that we’ve been having car trouble. Maybe it’s the fact that almost everyone in my little family has been sick and we’re all exhausted. But I’m ready for a little simplicity. I’m ready to take control and pare down all the excess in my day-to-day. I want my little blessings to know that each and every bit of our life can and should be appreciated and used as a springboard for us to bless others.

I’m hoping to have a few more ‘Poop in a Group’ posts coming for you as we embark (such a fancy word) on this journey. I may even find a way to put together a more coherent post as opposed to this rambling thing you’re reading now. : ) Either way, enjoy this holiday. Enjoy it as a time to be with your family and remember that there is one True Reason we are celebrating. And it has nothing to do with Barbies, HDTVs or any Apple device.

 With love,
Momma Bug : )

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Party On! Adaleine's Rainbow Birthday Party

I am a bit overdue on getting these pictures posted so here’s the plan: I am going to post one meeeellion pictures of what we did for Sissy Bell’s Rainbow Birthday party and you’re going to bear with me. Capiche? Sweet. Here we go. : ) Starting with the invite...

 If you remember the two invitations that I used as a jumping off point for the party, you’ll see that this one is a pretty good mesh of the polka-dot and the pennant ones, probably leaning a bit more toward the ‘Landon’ one. I created these using my sister’s Creative Memories program, and let me say that I just love it!! It’s so easy and MUCH more affordable than Photoshop. I know if I had a bunch of photos to edit and such I’d spring for the real deal, but this program is perfect for what I need and my sister is nice enough to let me use hers until I save my spending money for my own. : )

I was uber excited about the d├ęcor behind the table. Similar to my inspiration here, but much more affordable than yards and yards of tulle, not to mention getting to skip the hours of pom-pom construction! And I think it turned out pretty dang good! If ah do say so mah darn self.

Here are a few pictures of the food table I set up for the party. You can see my pretzels inspired here, my fruit rainbow (blatant rip-off from here), and my colorful Twizzler display ala this site. My amazing sister spent 14+ hours making that rainbow layer cake we saw here, which means I get to go help her paint all the trim in her house in January. : ) The slushy punch is a recipe that I got from my sister (her mother-in-law is basically a slushy punch superhero) and I made a lemon batch along with a strawberry one. You can never have too much slushy punch. Word.

For decorations I actually kept it pretty simple (and cheap!) going with just streamers and balloons. The focal point was the cake table with the streamer backdrop, then I prettied up the stairs with some balloons and covered the beam right inside the door with all the colors of our rainbow. Please forgive the weird lighting and such; I didn’t take good pictures beforehand and the sun was coming right in during the party. Dang sun. My sister made the balloon wreath. ‘Cause she’s frigging amazing, but whatever.

To kill time during the party, I had our kitchen table set up with Froot Loops and string for necklaces (because everybody needs some edible accessories) and a toss game where the kiddos tossed little bundles of rainbow-colored balloons into different bowls for bragging rights. The kids had lots of fun, but I have no pictures for you since I don’t want to put other people’s munchkins on here without permission. ‘Cause dude, that ain’t cool. Just imagine lots of adorable kids having sooo much fun. There! You got the picture!

Before opening presents, I thought it would be a good idea to have all the kids sit down and listen to a story. If it had been any other party and any other story, this would seem like a lame idea but it totally worked! The book we read was ‘A Rainbow of My Own’ by Don Freeman. It’s a pretty simple book and worked perfectly for our group of kids who were mostly four and under. They loved it. 

Party favors were so much fun! I tied up ribbon scraps to make these little wavy garlands to send home with everyone just like here, and I loved this gal’s idea of the white bags to let the colors of the ribbon pop. Then I just wrote everyone’s name on their bag’s tag and sent them on their merry way after all the festivities.

Here’s the part where I just bury you under a bunch of cute pictures. Judah eating rainbow cake? Check! The girls with Nana and Papa? Check! Sissy picking out her birthday present? Check! Readyyyyyyyyyyy GO!

And that, my friends, is how I threw a Rainbow Birthday Party for my little Adaleine Grace. She had so much fun, we crammed 42--yes, 42!--people into our house, and I was exhausted at the end. Maybe next time I'll tone it down a bit. We'll see ; )