Ashely Mac’s Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Today was a cloudy and cold day. To me, a day like today is perfect for baking. The blessing of baking with my granddaughter makes for an even more perfect day! We have been baking together since she was very young.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at the Southern Lady Celebration in Birmingham, Alabama. One of our guest speakers was Ashley Mac, owner of her own cafe and catering business. She demonstrated her famous Pumpkin Snickerdoodles. We were gifted the recipe and a sample of her cookies and of course, they were delicious. I immediately thought of my granddaughter. I knew she would love making these cookies. Today, was the day to try out the recipe and they were a success!

Yes, she always looks this cute while baking!

Mimi and her sidekick! Well, I was really the sous chef!

She is a natural in the baking and cooking world!

We packaged a few for gifts with some cute pumpkin ribbon.
I know! They look delicious!

Ashley Mac’s Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened

2 1/2 cups of granulated sugar, divided

2 cups light brown sugar

1 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree

1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract

4 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt

2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice

1 1/2 cups of white chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups of cinnamon baking chips

1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat softened butter, 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar and brown sugar at a medium speed until fluffy. About 4-5 minutes. Add vanilla and pumpkin.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture. Stir in baking chips at a low speed until incorporated.
  3. Refrigerate until chilled.
  4. In a small bowl combine cinnamon and 1 cup of granulated sugar.
  5. Using a medium spring loaded scoop, scoop dough into 1 1/2 tablespoon mounds; immediately roll into cinnamon sugar mixture forming balls.
  6. Place dough balls on parchment lined cookie sheets, cover with plastic wrap and put in freezer until firm.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. When ready to bake, place on another parchment lined sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes, depending how soft you like your cookies.

Here are a few notes about our experience of baking the Snickerdoodles:

*I wasn’t able to find the cinnamon baking chips at our grocery. I ordered them from Amazon.

*The only kosher salt I could find was course. So, we just used regular sea salt. Maybe I should have checked Amazon? Or maybe, you can use course salt?

*I used the medium scoop. I may try using a smaller one next time to make smaller cookies.

*I may also make only half of the recipe next time. I think we came up with a little over 4 dozen cookies in this recipe. Could be dangerous for me as I will eat everyone of them! Great for gifts or a party if you make that many. Or….freeze them.

*We ended up baking them for about 16-17 minutes. All ovens are different.

*Great fall cookie! Delicious! I like my cookies a bit crispy on the edges and soft in the middle. Perfect!

*If I ever go back to Birmingham, Ashley Mac’s will be at the top of my list!

Enjoy!

A Girl and Her Doll

I love this picture! Our sleepy little girl and her baby! Tired little mommy!

When I was about 6 years old, I got a baby doll for Christmas. We were living in Ft. Stockton, Texas and we were in the middle of moving. The night before the big move to a new town, my family went to some friends of my parents home for dinner. I took my brand new baby doll. The next morning we were on our way out of town and I remembered my doll. I had left it at the house we were visiting the night before.

When I told my dad, he said that we didn’t have time to go get it and he would get me another one. I remember sitting in the back seat of the car and was extremely sad. I felt sorry for my doll. I missed her. But…life goes on.

I didn’t have many dolls growing up that I remember. When I was 3, I got a Susie Smart doll for Christmas. She wore a red plaid jumper and had a school desk and chalk board. A year or two later, I got a Candy Fashion doll for Christmas. She was a fashion doll and had mannequins that you could put clothes on since she was a model. I’ve always wondered what happened to those dolls. We moved quiet a bit when I was young, so no telling where they are.

This picture was recently found by my cousin. I had never seen it until recently. And look, I have a baby doll! I love this picture!

As life went on, I helped take care of my two younger brothers. I was 9 years old when my youngest brother was born. I was really too busy with a real baby to worry about baby dolls. I carried him around every where I went. I remember getting in serious trouble from my father when he was disciplining my brother and he came running to me and I hugged him as he was getting in trouble. I could tell millions of stories about my brothers and I growing up as I was a miniature mommy to them. My parents had divorced and my mother worked around the clock, so I was the babysitter and housekeeper. Back to the doll stories….

After the loss of the doll in Ft. Stockton, the only doll I remember having after that was when I was in about the 5th grade. She was called Crissy. She had short red hair and when you pushed a button on her tummy and pulled her hair….her hair grew down to her waist. I really liked her, but, I didn’t really have anyone that played dolls around. I fell into the trap that I was too old for dolls. I kept her for a long time and ended up giving her to a younger girl that I knew.

When our daughter was young, we always made sure she had baby dolls to play with and she so loved her dolls. She would even dress them up and take them to church. I always loved looking at dolls and seeing all the different ones available when shopping for her baby dolls.

Now that we have two granddaughters, we have bought several dolls for them as well. Matter of fact…recently, we took our youngest granddaughter on a birthday trip and we ended the trip with a visit to The American Girl store. I always love going in that store. It’s all I can do to not buy everything possible.

We each picked out a new doll and accessories!
It took me a while to unpack my doll, but, today was the day.

As we were picking out our granddaughters doll, I told myself….”I’m getting me a doll as well!” And I did! I picked Mary Ellen. She is from the 50’s. Each of the dolls from American Girl has a story of a certain time period. They have books and of course lot’s of accessories. Mary Ellen had all the extras such as a pearl necklace and bracelet set, a poodle skirt with oxfords, a sundress, the cutest Christmas punch bowl set and of course a juke box that really works! Yes, I fell for it all!

It felt like Christmas!
I love the way they package everything!

I’m sure my granddaughter will love playing with her when she is here. I have 4 sets of clothes and changed her once for pictures. I was too tired to change her again…so you will have to settle for just the two pictures of her change of outfits.

Isn’t she the cutest! I loved the retro punch bowl and Christmas deer set. The juke box came in today and it really works. Oh, how could I not get the little dog! I think I need a leash, though. And, look at her little gloves and pearls!
There she is, ready for the sock hop! I think that’s what they called it!

I so hope that parents are still allowing their girls to play with baby dolls. What fun it would be to have all your dolls from your childhood and pass them on to your daughters.

On my Pinterest, I have a board called, iLove Things From the Past. I have found pictures of the dolls I had as a young girl. They look just like I remember them. Except the poor baby doll that was left in Ft. Stockton. I don’t remember what kind of doll she was. I just knew that I missed her and cried for her..that’s all I remember.

Do you have memories of special baby dolls?

She’s loved American Girl dolls for a long time!

I am linking this post with A Wise Woman Builds Her Home.

Alcohol…No Respecter of Persons

I have been wanting to write on this subject for some time now. I am in the process of actually writing a book on this subject. My book will be an easy to read workbook that will be full of information to educate someone on all that is involved in drinking alcohol. We actually have a choice to drink or not to drink. It seems in our culture, it is a given that when you turn 21, you now get to drink. I often wonder if that 21 year old is ever sat down and discussed in detail all the risks involved in drinking. I know, you are thinking, “Beverly, do you really think young people actually wait until they are 21?” Right, I wasn’t born yesterday. I also was once a teenager as well. I can honestly say that I don’t recall anyone ever sharing with me all the risks in drinking. It was handed to me at the age of 13. Literally put in my hand. I didn’t take a drink, I just passed it back. By the time I was 13, I had seen enough of alcohol and wanted no part of it. I made up my mind in my wee little brain at a young age that it would not be a part of my life. Who would ever think that it would be a battle to…JUST SAY NO. Trust me, when you decide to say no, you will be ridiculed and challenged regularly. Saying no is not for sissies! -wink

In some of my research, I found out that April is the 33rd Annual Alcohol Awareness Month. 33rd! I am now 59 and I have never in my life heard that there was an Alcohol Awareness Month. Where have I been?!

My husband and I support two children from other countries through Compassion. Each month I print out the monthly prayer calendar. One of the prayer requests caught my eye; A prayer request for a young boy in Brazil. The request was to pray for him and his family due to his alcoholic father. It broke my heart. I thought, out of all the hardships that this young boy lives with; bad water, no food, extreme poor living conditions and education and now, this young boy has to live with the ravages of an alcoholic dad. If life isn’t hard enough, right?

When alcohol takes a hold and takes a bite out of your life, it doesn’t matter, how old or young you are, how poor or wealthy you are, how outgoing or shy you are, how likable or unlikable you are and it doesn’t even matter if you are a Believer or an Atheist. Alcohol is no respecter of persons. No one is above the perils of alcoholism.

Here are just a few statistics to get you to thinking:

*These statistics are from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Also, note these are 2015 statistics and in the United States only. Also, they use the term, Alcohol Use Disorder instead of the word, Alcoholism.

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) in the United States:

*  Adults (ages 18+): According to the 2015 NSDUH, 15.1 million adults ages 18 and older had AUD. This includes 9.8 million men and 5.3 million women.

I have to jump in here and say “Do you think that ANY of those 15 million adults said to themselves, “I think I’m going to be an alcoholic!” I would pretty much be willing to bet 15 million on the fact that “NO! Not one of them did!” Okay, back to the statistics….

»  Youth (ages 12–17): According to the 2015 NSDUH, an estimated 623,000 adolescents ages 12–17 had AUD. This number includes 298,000 males and 325,000 females.

»  An estimated 88,0008 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

»  In 2014, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 9,967 deaths.

I will be sharing more in later posts between now and April in honor of Alcohol Awareness Month.

I do hope you will follow along with an open mind and in no way do I intend to hurt or shame anyone in their choice to drink alcohol or not. My desire is to show another side that just may save a life or prevent some not so good things that could happen to you or your family.

I’ve lived the life of that little boy in Brazil. I know first hand how it feels to have a daddy that is addicted to alcohol. My dad began drinking at the age of 14. He has shared the story of how his parents were having a party and he and a friend sat under the table where it was being served and hid while partaking in the drinks the adults were having. He gained an appetite for more and he loved it. What I would give, if someone had reached him before he took that first drink. My life would have been much different than what I lived through for many years. It wasn’t pretty and it leaves many scars. My dad and many others had no idea they would become a slave to alcohol and it would change the entire course of their life.

One thing to remember is:

“It’s not about us!”

What we do and partake in will effect others, especially, our children and grandchildren.

Until we get together again on this subject, I have a challenge for you.

Get a piece of paper and draw a line down the center of your paper. On one side put a heading that says, “Positives of Alcohol.” On the other side, write, “Negatives of Alcohol.” Begin writing everything you can think of under each column. This is just for you, so you can begin thinking and deciding what stand you will take on the consumption of alcohol.

Heavy subject, I know. It is something that I know way too much about and yes, I have strong opinions on it. But, I am mature enough to only want the best for you and to share another side than what the world is pouring for you. Get it…” pouring.” That just popped in my head as I was typing. Seriously, I hope you will follow along and we can learn some things together.

Until next time,


Homeschooling….First Things, First!

Thinking about homeschooling?  Maybe, you are just curious and wonder what in the world would one need to think about before they get started on this homeschooling lifestyle.

I made a list of a few things that I think are important to have set in place before you dive in to the world of homeschooling.

* I honestly feel that the Lord put a desire in my heart to educate my children.  I wouldn’t have done it had I not felt that nudge.   I have always felt that you should feel the call to homeschool.  How would you feel that call?   *It is always on your mind and you can’t shake it, you can’t imagine sending your child to a public or private school, you have total peace about it and you have the blessing of your husband to go for it.

*You love being around your children.  That sounds crazy doesn’t it?  There are actually people that will tell you they couldn’t stand to be with their kids all day.  That always puzzled me.  Trust me,  I understand that we all need a break every now and then and need to have some  “me time.” But, to actually not enjoy your children at all times is hard for me to understand.  So enjoying your children and love having them around is very important.

*You love your home.  You really need to enjoy making a home by seeing that it is organized, orderly, safe, comfortable and a place that your family loves being in. You run your home like a well oiled machine.  If staying home and being at home most of the time drives you crazy, homeschooling may not be the thing for you.  There are moms/wives who just can’t stay home; they get bored or they don’t feel like they have any worth by being at home.  I would say that loving to stay home and taking care of your home would be one of the things at the top of the list.

*Your marriage is intact.  By intact, I mean you and your husband are on the same page and you don’t have severe marital issues.  I’ve always thought, what is the point in homeschooling your children if your marriage is out of sorts.  Loving and honoring your husband/wife comes before your children.  A secure mom and dad is the best education you can give your children; way before reading, writing and arithmetic!  I once heard a marriage counselor say, “If you and your husband are having marriage problems, it is imperative to get it worked out and have a marriage as God designed and if it means putting your children in public school to do that, then that is what you must do.”  I have seen what I thought was a strong homeschooling family and then be shocked when the news was that the parents were divorcing.  How sad that must be for those children.  Make sure that you and your husband keep your marriage strong and take care of any problems before they get pushed to the back burner.

*You have done your research.  Do you admire someone that home schools?  Then call them and glean as much wisdom from them that you can.  Study learning styles and curriculum choices.  I would encourage you to go to a Homeschool Conference and you will be amazed at what all is available, not to mention the workshops on so many much needed topics.  (*I will be sharing resources and conference information this week.)

*Know your child.  I mean really know them…study them.  Know their personality trait and their learning style.  What is it that they are the most interested in?  To me, that is the best part of homeschooling, designing their education plan around who they are.   Know their strong points and their weaknesses.  As a mom/teacher you want your child to excel in every area.

*Put in writing why you are homeschooling.  I’m a big believer in mission statements.  You need to have a reminder of why you are doing what you are doing and what you are willing to do to succeed.  As I have written just the little bit I have about what you need to have set before you begin to homeschool, I have realized once again, that homeschooling is not for the faint of heart, you must be sure of yourself and committed to educating your children.  You will have things pop up here and there that will make you question what you are doing and you will have others question you as well.  When you have that mission statement or purpose statement written out and maybe even posted where you can read it regularly, it will be a reminder of why you are doing what you are doing.  Many times you will be your own cheerleader, you don’t have time to second guess yourself and question yourself.  You can’t depend on others to always be affirming you in what you are doing. If you wait for that, you might be waiting a long time.

So much more I could share, but I will stop there.  I think that is a good starter for if you are thinking about homeschooling.  Maybe your have been homeschooling for a while and this is a good reminder to take care of some things that need taking care of before you continue on.  You are doing so much more than just teaching your child how to read.  You are shaping them to be a light in this world and to make a difference in whatever path they choose.  You have a big job and it isn’t to be taken lightly.  You are molding, shaping and showing your child how to follow the path that has been set and ordered for them.  Great and mighty things will be done because of your tenacity and your willingness to spend your child’s educating years focused on building them to be all they can be.

It could be that you don’t homeschool but you know someone that does.  This is your chance to understand just a little bit in just how serious it is and how important it is to lift that mom and dad up in prayer and with encouraging words.  Don’t forget the kiddos.  They need affirmation as well.  Ask them about their homeschooling and speak words of kindness and challenge them to study hard and learn all they can.

 

Don’t forget about the amazing giveaway at the end of this series.  For each comment that you leave, your name will go in a drawing to win a subscription to one of my favorite homeschooling magazines and a prayer calendar/journal.

 


If you missed the previous posts in this series, click on each title.

Do You Know a Homeschooling Family?

 

Do You Know A Homeschooling Family?

Chances are you know a homeschooling family personally or you know of one in your community.  I’m not sure what your opinion is, but there is an array of opinions going on about homeschoolers.

I homeschooled my two children in the 90’s when homeschooling wasn’t that cool.  There were many homeschooling families, but it was pretty much undercover.  We were very careful and many were fearful of being “turned in” by those that didn’t understand the concept.

Today, you see homeschooling children everywhere and are happily and freely blended into the community.

In 1999, it was reported that about 850,000 children were being homeschooled.  This number isn’t that accurate as a few states didn’t report due to it being illegal to homeschool in their particular state. In 2003 it was reported that there were 1.1 million students being homeschooled.  I just read a report that in 2016, 2.3 million children were being homeschooled and it is expected to rise even more over the next few years.

I’m excited to spend this week sharing ways to encourage the homeschool family that you know in your world, to stay strong and that you have their back.  If you don’t quiet understand or even agree with homeschooling, maybe this week you will look at it a little differently and realize that homeschooling families are just like you, they just decided to take the education of their children into their own hands instead of sending their children to the local school house.

Homeschooling is a commitment.  This commitment could be for a short season or for the entire twelve years.  Whatever the time frame is, it is hard work.  Homeschooling looks different in different families.  Not everyone does it the same.  When I began, there were so many different methods and styles of teaching.  I may have tried all of them.  I loved reading about families and how they educated their children.  When I would read a style that I thought would work with our family, I would try it.  Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.  We will talk about those methods this week.

Supporting and encouraging homeschool moms is one of my favorite things to do.  I look back on my 15 years of homeschooling and oh, how I would have loved to have had all the encouragement possible.  Just someone to say, “I’m praying for you, you are doing such a good job!”  My biggest encouragers were my husband and my mom.  I had a couple of friends who were my mentors and I knew I could talk to them about anything; even the words, “What am I doing?  I can’t do this!”  They would pick me back up and remind me why I was homeschooling and that yes, I could do it.  I had a few strikes against me as I have always had people in my life that their mission was to discourage me.  I would usually get their disapproval by their comments or their looks and even their questioning of my children.  But, alas, my children graduated from home education and both of them are doing extremely well and I might add…..they are extremely smart!  Not because of me, but because of their love of learning.  If anything that I would be thankful for…. and that would be that maybe I instilled in them to love learning.  I did my best to provide a safe and fun place to learn.  I loved those years and oh, how I wish I could go back with what I know now.  Instead, I will spend the rest of my life sharing what I learned and what I would do now if I were a homeschooling mom again.

My children survived homeschooling and are beautiful examples of our season of learning at home.

I’m very excited to share that at the end of the week, there will be a giveaway.  If you are a homeschooling mom, you will love this!  If you don’t homeschool, you may know someone that does and if you win, you can give it to them and you will be a huge blessing to that homeschool mom.  The Well Planned Gal will give a Well Planned Prayer Journal and a years subscription to the magazine, Family.  I have followed and subscribed to this magazine for years and love everything about it.  Click here to visit the site and you can see the other things that are offered.  I have a feeling that you will love everything the Well Planned Gal has to offer.


 

To be included in the drawing for this amazing giveaway, just leave a comment and share your thoughts on homeschooling or what you hope to learn this week on this subject!

Loving My Pure Flix Fix!

 

Do you have a hard time finding a movie that you can sit down and watch and not have to worry about the language or a questionable scene that has no point to the movie at all?

Movie night with the kids is always fun, but it takes us so long to find a movie that we feel safe with.

We recently signed up for Pure Flix and I’m loving it.  My first month was free and then it is 10.99  a month and you will have a huge choice of some really good movies.  There are even some documentaries and some teaching videos as well as some comedian programs.  I haven’t explored everything, but I’l let you know when I watch something really good.  Which leads me to what we watched last night…

To Joey, With Love!  Oh me, what a story.  It is the story of Joey and Rory Feeks.  They sing country music and I don’t want to share too much with you as to ruin it, but, have your tissues ready and be prepared to sit in silence when it is all over.  You may want to do some serious thinking on how we live our lives.  I’m also downloading some of their music.  I had never really listened to it, but, I’m now a fan!

To Joey, with Love

If you want to check it out for yourself, click here.  I know that not everyone enjoys faith based and family movies, and that is fine…..but, for me, I love them and I want to support Pure Flix however I can.  The more we support them, the more they will make and the better they will get.

I better go now so we can decide on which movie we will watch tonight.  I’m thinking a western movie…..yeehaw!!!  I just had to say that!

 

Always Room for A Children’s Book!

The earliest I remember of being interested in reading, was when I was in first grade.  I loved going to reading time and putting my little wooden chair in the reading circle.  There would be several groups and each group was labeled a different color to coordinate with the reader and your reading level.   The books that I learned to read from were the famous Dick and Jane books.  I LOVED looking at the pictures more than anything.  I would study how they dressed and all the fun they were having.  Cooking, working in the yard, driving to the grocery and getting ready for bedtime are the ones that stand out in my mind the most. I would dream that those pictures were of me and my family.

This book was given to me by a dear friend who knew that I had fond memories of my readers in 1st grade.  She had a collection of these and surprised me with one.

In my later elementary years, Library Day was my favorite day.  I loved going through all the books and studying the titles and then choosing my books.  The first thing I always wanted to know was what the limit of books to check out were.

I’ll always remember that time of year when we would get a catalog of books that we could actually order from and have as our very own.  I would go through and mark all the books I wanted.  It always ended up that I could only order one book, if any.  Money was extremely tight at our house.  My first book that I ordered was a reader about Abraham Lincoln.  I can still see the cover of that book in my mind.

I had the honor to homeschool our children and books were a huge part of our schooling.  Our son and daughter loved to read and were always reading something interesting.  They both were excellent readers and they both love reading today, as adults.

While my husband served in full-time ministry, money for books was a huge luxury.  I would go to bookstores with him and drool over all the books I wished that I could purchase and read.  But, we were only able to get him the needed books that he had to have.  Commentaries, study books, Bibles, etc. were very expensive for our little family that was in the throws of ministry life.  I always said that if we were ever in a position of having a staff while serving as pastor, I would request that the wife of the staff member would get a book allowance for sure, alongside her husband. *If you are reading this and you are in a position at your church to make a decision such as that, I would highly recommend it.

All that brings me to my main reason for writing today.  Children’s Books!!!!  I love books for kids.  I began collecting them many years ago.  I’ve given many away and of course, we encourage our grandkiddos to read them.  My favorite thing to listen to is, my Jim reading a book to one of the little ones before bedtime.

We had many Little Golden Books when my kids were young and they were always a part of bedtime stories.  But, I think their favorite was when Jim made up stories instead of reading.

Today, I visited a bookstore looking for a certain decorating magazine.  I found myself in the children’s section and of course bought four books for the “kids.”  I always have to read them first and they are just as exciting to me as when I was little.

This is my “book haul” from today, as they say…..

I hope children’s books are a big part of your life and that your children and grandchildren will fall in love with reading because you made it easy for them to have access to books.

I am picky about the books I choose.  They must always have a good message.  There is enough negativity in the world that will find its way into your child’s mind. The books we choose for them should always be full of knowledge and good things!

My sweet elderly friend and mentor, Iris, wrote a little story that would be perfect for a board book.  I’m doing my best to help her with it.  Pray that it will work out.  I’ve always thought about the idea of writing a children’s book.  Maybe this will let me know if it is for me or not.

What are some of your favorite books that you remember as a child?

Our cutie pie grandkiddos are in the middle of a reading challenge for the summer.  I’m speechless when they tell me how many books they have already read.  Isn’t that fun!  I’m so proud of them!

I love the program that Dolly Parton has concerning children’s books.  Read about it here.  When I was a child, I would have LOVED to be on the receiving end of this amazing gift.

Happy reading!

10 Ways to Enjoy An Empty Nest Christmas

masquerade

After spending many fun filled years of making Christmas special for your busy family, now it’s just you and your husband.  Or, it may just be you and no one else.  Christmas can still be just as fun and festive, just in a different way.  Children always make Christmas special!  Now, with the children gone, it’s a bit quiet.  You get to rest from all those years of non stop activity and searching for ways to make each Christmas the most memorable.

I hope this list of 10 Ways To Enjoy Your Empty Nest Christmas, will inspire you to make this a memorable Christmas!  There are so many ways to enjoy this time of year; this list will just get you started.

  1.  Get your calendar out and decide what all you want to accomplish this season.  Make notes of any appointments, sites to see and area events to attend.  Get your tickets early and set your plan in place.
  2. Decide how you want to celebrate Christmas.  Will you have Christmas at your home or have you been invited to celebrate with others?  Get invitations out to whomever you want to invite to your home for the special day.
  3. Have you always decorated your home over the top?  You may want to continue or you may decide to scale back a little bit.  But, if it makes your heart happy to see twinkling lights, then put them up even if it is just you that will see them.  Decorate for you with the things that you like.
  4. If you have grandchildren that will be coming over during this season, have things ready and prepared for the visit, such as puzzles, crafts, Christmas books and movies.
  5. Speaking of children, invite your grandchildren over for baking cookies or a special craft time and just have fun.  There might be a special exhibit in your area designed for kids at Christmas; take advantage of that and make a date with a grandchild. You may even know of a child that doesn’t have a grandparent.  Adopting grandchildren would be a huge blessing to a parent.
  6. Make gift giving fun for friends and family members.  Be creative and do something that is unique and special.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive.  Just something that says, “I was thinking of you and love you.” Wrap your gifts with lots of love.  Nothing better than a beautifully wrapped gift.  Almost as fun as the gift itself in my book.
  7. Try out a new recipe and invite some friends over for dinner before Christmas and before everyone gets busy with their family.  It’s always fun to have guests in our homes during the holidays.
  8. Have a Christmas Tea.  Set a fun festive table and invite one or more friends over for a tea and have simple treats to eat.
  9. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen or shelter and help where needed.  Donate money to your favorite charity.  If you are crafty, make items that are needed for a ministry that helps others.
  10. Enjoy your quiet time and spend time reading.  Take  time to soak up the amazing story of God’s wonderful gift to us all those years ago.  What a glorious time when the world comes together to acknowledge a little baby that was born to save the world.  Some reject this good news, but if you have been changed because of Christ, you have reason to celebrate, whether you are at home alone with your twinkling lights or in the midst of a loud busy home full of activity……It is time to REJOICE!
  11. Bonus Tip!  I thought of one more thing.  The New Year is fast approaching.  Take time this month to work on your goals, dreams and plans for the coming year.  Pick out a planner that is just your style and get to planning for a successful coming year!

Merry Christmas!  Enjoy your empty nest Christmas and make it a special one for yourself and those you are in contact with during this sweet season!

I would love to hear what you do to make your Christmas special each year!  Comments are always fun to read, so feel free to leave a comment, it may inspire and encourage someone!

Click here to read other posts in this series of Making a Full House a Home for Two in The Empty Nest Years.

A Home For Two

An Empty Nest Christmas!

merryMerry Christmas!

Are you in the middle of the empty nest years and wondering how to make Christmas special for your empty nest home?

When Jim and I married in 1980, we pulled together our Christmas traditions from our homes and meshed them together and came up with our own.  Before we had children, Christmas was easy; we would go to our parents homes and celebrate with family and join in with whoever invited us that year.  Once our children came, we found it important to be home and build our own style of Christmas morning and all the festivities before that special day.

Many years went by with lot’s of fun Christmas memories with our family and our extended family and friends.  I have a photo album and a box of “want to be photo album” pictures to look back on.   We also have videos of some family Christmases that I’m anxious to go through.  I’m sure I will have to have a box of tissues as I watch them, though.

Now that our two children are grown and have homes of their own, it is back to just my husband and I.  I have to make the decision of how much I want to decorate, when before we would decorate for the kids to make it as festive and fun as possible.  Now, as I decorate, it’s just for us and those that visit our home during the holiday time.  It’s still just as fun, but oh, so different.

This year, I decorated a tree with ornaments from the kids younger years.  I found the first ornament I ever bought when Patti was just a baby.  I loved seeing the ornaments of Nathan’s when he was a basketball player and all his ornaments had to do with basketball.  Between Patti’s ice skating ornaments and Nathan’s airplane ornaments, I was in tears by the time I finished the tree.  I’m sure that those ornaments will ever mean anything special like they are to me, but, I will continue to cherish them and the memories that go with them.

Something important to know when going in to the holiday season with a quiet house is knowing my purpose.  My purpose should be to enjoy this time of the year and now make memories for my husband and I and those that are around to enjoy with us.  My purpose is to cheer on our children as they now make memories with their families and begin their own traditions.  My husband and I have never put pressure on our kids to spend Christmas with us each Christmas or every other Christmas.  Although, I do admire those that have it so organized that everyone knows which Christmas and which Thanksgiving to spend with which family.  Since our lives were always so busy and unpredictable while our kids were growing up, we didn’t have anything set in stone of when to be where, so we have stuck with that rule now.  Life is so busy and things happen that to insist on certain years and times for everyone to be together, just doesn’t work for us.  We find out what everyone is doing or have planned and work around our time to be together for holiday time.  However it works out, we make the best of it and enjoy it to the fullest.

WHAT I WISH I WOULD HAVE DONE IN THE PAST:

If I could go back and make some changes to the way we celebrated Christmas I would for sure have taken more pictures and put them in albums.  I now have pictures in boxes over the past 36 years and the Christmas pictures are mixed in.  I did manage to put together an album a few years ago, but so many pictures are missing. *(goal for 2017; organize pictures!)

I would also insist on a family picture each year.  Nothing crazy fancy but, maybe sometimes yes, crazy fancy.  And the complainers would just have to deal with it.  I’m a people pleaser, so if someone complained about having to dress up for a picture, I would say, “Ok, we will skip it then.”  If I could go back, I would stand my ground.

Another thing I wish I would have done was to not let holiday drama affect me.  You know…the family members that treat you a certain way while you are in their home and you just deal with it because it’s Christmas.  If I could go back, I would just let it roll off of my back and never think twice about it.  As long as I treat others like I should with kindness, forgiveness and grace, I shouldn’t have a problem when treated badly.  There isn’t anything different you can do when someone dislikes and disrespects you if you have those three things in your life.  Of course it is difficult to have those three things if you first don’t have love.  There really isn’t room in my life for the drama that some folks have to have.  Acceptance is all people really want and to be valued as having worth.  What better time than Christmas to practice what you preach…..Love one another!

One last thing…I would have focused more on the whole reason we celebrate Christmas; the birth of our Savior.  However festive we make our Christmas, we can always bring it back to that little baby who came to save the world!  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son…..” John 3:16

That’s pretty good, only three things I would do different.  I’m sure there are more if I put more thought into it.  The past is the past and we must give ourselves grace so we can be stronger and continue on in making this season the best season ever!

Merry Christmas and enjoy your holiday you own special way, even if it’s an empty nest!

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A Home For Two

Your Time Will Come

 

A Home For Two

For the past few years my hubby and I have been able to do some things that we never were able to do when we were younger due to time, finances and the different schedules of us and our kiddos.  What fun it has been to be able to just get up and go on a trip at the spur of the moment.

Earlier this year we were thinking we wanted to go to California around the Pebble Beach area.  In doing some research, my husband found a cruise that goes along the entire West Coast from San Diego up to Victoria, Canada.  If that wasn’t enough, we mentioned the trip to some dear friends who are in their empty nest years, too.  They made their plans to join us and what fun we had.  This is just one of the perks of living the empty nest life.  When we get to missing our life with kids, running around and schedules to keep, it helps to just go do something fun, just for us.

If you are a mom with children still at home, enjoy and make memories of these years.  Also, realize that someday, your children will be on their own living their lives and you will be living a life on your own, too.

What are some things that you hope to do some day when your children are on their own?  Do you have a bucket list?  If not, you might want to begin one because when the time comes, you will want to get started on all those things that you’ve dreamed about no matter how big or small.  I never really thought about what I wanted to do, I just enjoyed my life as a full-time mom.  I’m in the beginning stages of realizing how wonderful this can really be.  I’ve got my list going!

Enjoy this time you have with your children and just know that your time will come where it is just the two of you again to enjoy life together.

life-is-likea-cup-of-tea

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