Keep That Holiday Cheer All Season Long; Less Stressed

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Maybe it’s just me (I doubt it), but stress during the holiday season is inevitable. There is so much you want to do in just a few short weeks. Decorate the house, cut down a tree, visit Santa, see Christmas lights. Trying to fit everything in can make you feel overwhelmed and sometimes we lose sight of the really meaning of the holidays.

This holiday season, I really want to slow it all down and soak up all the memories I create with my family so I’m trying to kick the stress out the door.

Here’s how:

Start Early. Who cares if you have your tree up before Thanksgiving, or your house is decorated right after Halloween. That just gives you more time to enjoy the holiday season before you take everything back down and get ready for spring. Decorating early means more time do the fun things, like drive around and see Christmas lights or snuggle up and watch Christmas movies.

I’ve realized that decorating early diminishes the stress of trying to quickly get everything up the weekend after Thanksgiving. I’d rather spend that time with my family.

Keep A List. My planner goes everywhere with me. Whatever I want to do during the holiday season, I write it on my calendar, so I don’t forget or overbook.

I also make sure to keep a list of everything my children see on TV that they want Santa to bring (so I can tell him of course!). List help me remember ever, because I am the queen of forgetting and stressing over how to fit everything in.

Rest Up & Pace Yourself. Nobody wants a Grouchy Grinch during the holidays. Make sure you get your rest. Don’t stay up until the crack of dawn wrapping presents. Take one or two, wrap those and do more the next night, hence the pace yourself.

Sleep is crucial for lowering stress, even when it’s not the holidays, so imagine not getting enough sleep this time of year.

Care A Little Less. Who cares if your gift wrapping doesn’t look perfect, the get ripped open anyway. Who cares if your decorating is not as good as your neighbors, you decided to spend that time with family. Who cares if your ornaments don’t match on the tree, your kids helped decorate it.

Just because something isn’t the way you expected it to be at first, who cares! The joy and happiness will still be there.

Your Family Photo’s Don’t Need To Be Perfect. I’ve learned to be real with my photos. There’s about a 13% chance that I’m going to get my children to smile together in a photo, and probably a 2% chance that my daughter won’t cry on Santa’s lap.

Let’s be real, if I was only 2 I’d think a big man with a white beard and a red suit was scary too. I’m not going to get myself worked up because the photos weren’t ‘picture perfect’. I’ll just laugh it off and hope for the best next year.

Gift Cards Aren’t A Bad Gift. I remember always saying that I hated giving gift cards as a gift because they won’t be as fun to open. I would stress trying to find the ‘perfect gift’ for every person I bought for.

But in all reality, gift cards are the perfect gift. You can use that little card to pick out your own perfect gift after the holidays and be happy as can be. Now-a-days, that’s what I’d prefer to receive.

 

Enjoy your holiday season!

 

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One Successful Christmas

Another Christmas has come and gone in the blink of an eye. With all the stress and anxiety finally over, it was all worth it. My babies were in all their glory on Christmas morning. Of course, with me being that ‘crazy’ mom, I spent about fifteen minutes figuring out the perfect way to sit the presents under the tree. I don’t lie when I say my husband probably thinks I’m crazy. We obviously knew they would just get torn open in the morning. But that’s what this Momma does. That’s what make me feel satisfied. I went through all the madness of shopping and wrapping. You better believe they will get laid just perfectly.

Funny thing with yesterday morning was my husband, the kids grandparents, and I were up before both the kids. Around 7:30-8 we decided to finally wake them up because I couldn’t wait any longer. I never thought watching your kids open presents on Christmas morning would be more enjoyable then when you actually received all the gifts. Seeing my kids faces light up when then opened their gifts not only gave me a sigh of relief because they were so happy, but I sat there thinking “Yup, I did that, I made my kids that happy”. I tell you, it’s one good feeling.

Of course Liliana wasn’t understanding the whole ‘Santa came’ thing this year, but she definitely enjoyed tearing up some paper and seeing her toys. Kyle on the other hand was absolutely hilarious. Just about every gift he tore open was followed by a “Whaaaaaat no way, mom look as this” or “Mom! Santa did good”. I really need to start recording his reactions so when he’s older I can embarrass him to his friends and girlfriends (I’m totally going to be that mom). One moment that truly melted my heart was that Kyle was willing to take time to help his little sister. He handed her presents, helped her open them, and showed her all of her gifts. It was the sweetest thing I’ve ever witnessed.

One thing I’ve learned about Christmas Day is don’t forget to have batteries! I’m so relieved we had plenty this year so all the toys were able to work properly. I forgot them last year and that was a total mom fail. Within the course of an hour after gift opening, Kyle had about 80% of his gifts up and running. I’m pretty sure my fingers are about to fall off from all the twisting, snapping, and box opening I was doing. But that’s what motherhood is all about, exhausting yourself so your kids are happy. With all the gift hiding, traveling, and eating terribly I’m ready to get back on track for the new year. I’m already excited for next year though.

I hope yours was just as great as mine was!

It’s Christmas Eve Ya’ll!

 

Now being a mother, I look forward to the holiday season every year! Of course, I’m going to be MIA tomorrow so I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas now! Tonight, we’re going to my cousin’s house to celebrate with my father’s side of the family. Kyle is so excited to go because all his cousins will be there and he can’t wait to give them their presents he helped wrap. He’s getting the Maui hook tonight from his Aunt & Uncle, so he is going to go crazy! Then on Christmas, the kid’s grandparents come up to our house super early, and we all open presents together from Santa. I am so blessed that the kids have such involved grandparents, where they don’t want to ever miss a thing.  I am a big family person, so I soak up every moment that everyone is together, because it doesn’t happen too often.

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What are your kids into this year? My son is all Paw Patrol. I’m also positive about 95% of his gifts are those cute little pups. He’s getting the Sea Patroller, The Life Size Lookout Tower, and every pup to go with it. Then let’s not forget the Hatchimal (thanks Nana!). To be honest, I’m kind of excited for this toy. I remember as a kid, we had the Tamagotchi’s and Furby’s. I LOVED those. Granted my mother had to take care of it half of the time so it didn’t die which I’m sure I’ll be doing the same, but he’s going to be SO excited when he opens it. Did I mention it’s the twins?! Let’s start his parenting skills early, so maybe he can see how much work us mothers do!

My Lilly Bear is easier this year. She’s at that age where it’s mainly learning toys, but it’s her first Christmas so I’m super excited! I am starting a tradition with her involving Disney Princesses, so she’ll be getting a few of those this year from her MomMom. I’m really excited for what I’m doing, so I’m sure I’ll share it once she’s a little older and we start! Besides that, she’s getting her first Barbie, along with some baby dolls. Her Nana is getting her a ride on car, so I’m sure she’ll enjoy sitting on that. I take her to a place called ‘Tumble Town’  often in York, and she could sit on the cars for hours. If she’s moving around, she’s happy. My girl doesn’t stop for nothing. She’s going to have an awesome First Christmas.

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Tonight, we’ll be sure to put our Christmas PJ’s on, watch some Christmas cartoons, leave out some cookies and milk for Santa… or should I say some beer & wine for Santa and Mrs. Claus 😉 and get a good night’s rest because we all know we’ll be up at the crack of dawn!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope it’s a great one!

XO

 

Christmas Magic

Hey Ya’ll!

Christmas is right around the corner and I wanted to write a quick post about our evening last night at Christmas Magic. This is our third year going and it never fails to amaze. If you live near central Pennsylvania (or like to travel), this is a magical place to visit! It’s located at Rocky Ridge County Park in York Pennsylvania. It runs from November 24th – December 30th and runs 7 days a week.

Upon arriving, there are numerous light displays on your drive to park. You drive under a sign and through light tunnels. My son really seemed to enjoy it. Plus is took away some of wait time to park.

Admission was $10 for adults and $5 for children 4 and older. After paying they provided you with 3D snowflake glasses which my son enjoyed because every light looked as if it were a snowflake. The lights run along an outside trail about a mile or so long with stops in between where you can warm up next to a fire and see displays in the warmth. There is also a building with snacks and hot chocolate if you or the kiddos get hungry.

There is a large train garden display for little ones who love trains (like my son). It’s nicely done and it’s my sons favorite part every year. He could sit in there and watch them run for hours. They also decorate it with a lot of children cartoon characters so the kids love it!

Let’s not forget at the end.. Santa! The kids are able to sit on a sleigh with Santa and of course tell them what they want for Christmas while us mama’s snap photo’s! There is also a display outside where you can take family photo’s.

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This is truly a place for all ages. Young or old. The display of lights is phenomenal and will definitely put you in the holiday spirit. This could be a quick walk through or you could spend the evening there. It truly made me excited for Christmas Day to be here and it’s a great time for family bonding.

Hope anyone close can make it out and enjoy it! Have a great holiday! xo

The Little Things

I just wanted to share a quick post about my evening.

Tonight Kyle and I had some time together and we made sugar cookies. When Liliana was born, Kyle had to learn that I couldn’t put all my attention on him anymore. He now had a little sister that needed my attention just as much as him, if not more. He had his jealous moments and he definitely still does. So I always make sure to take time to have some big brother time, just me and him, no matter how little the activity is we do.

I don’t always have the time or the money to do extravagant things with my kids, but it’s an awesome feeling to know the little things are what matter most to them. Today at Target, I bought a cheap bag of pre-made batter and told Kyle we were going to make cookies tonight, just me and him. His face lit up like no tomorrow and he was excited all evening. We sat in the kitchen for about an hour and a half and just talked and baked. Of course some moments I yelled at him because he was eating the sprinkles, flinging dough everywhere, and messing with the cutouts. I enjoyed every moment of it though.

At the end, he wasn’t feeling the cookie baking anymore so I let him watch his tablet while I surprised him and made him his own personal cookies. It was his name and a tractor, and that was all he needed to have an amazing night with me. He quickly said “wow, thank you mommy, I love you”. That was it, that was all I needed to hear for my entire day to be made. I could have had the worst day, but when my child says I love you, my day is made. Just the little things. All I had to do was spend $2 at Target for a fun time with my boy. Now we have a bunch of yummy cookies to eat.

These are the moments I live for. All the messes, the frustration, the patience. It’s all worth it. It’s quality time with my kids.

I just wanted to share our evening and to tell everyone to just enjoy the little things. They aren’t little for long, but these memories will last a lifetime. No matter how messy or inexpensive, the kids see it as an enjoyable time with their mommy or daddy.

Tips for Visiting Santa with the Little Ones

Hi ya’ll! I just wanted to share some tips when it comes to visiting Santa with the little ones. These are a few that I’ve learned over the years and hopefully it’ll help more mama’s out there. Feel free to comment more tips below. I could always use extra advice!

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  1. Lower your expectations. A crying baby is a memory to look back on, don’t stress about it. Young ones aren’t going to understand Santa quite yet, so don’t expect “the perfect photo”. Plus, you can always embarrass them when their older with the photos.
  2. Prepare the kids. Tell them you’re visiting Santa. Maybe walk past Santa’s workshop a few times so they can check it out. Let them get the feel of it. It’ll make them more comfortable when the time comes to sit on his lap.
  3. Try to avoid them watching other kids on Santa’s lap. If they see other kids crying, it might give them more anxiety when it’s their turn. I try to refrain from having my children see other children cry on Santa’s lap. Maybe have them watch some kids who are smiling, but that’s about it.
  4. Always look “picture ready”. You never know when you’ll have to jump in with the kiddos to make them sit on Santa’s lap. You don’t want to ruin the picture with sweatpants and a mom bun 😉
  5. Put on their outfits right before they sit on Santa’s lap. This applies more for the boys. I don’t know about you, but my son could just be walking next to me and dirt would fly on his shirt. That’s my luck. So always be ready. Or at least have a jacket zipped up over them.
  6. Bring extra clothes. My son is the king of throwing up, while my daughter is the queen of blowouts at the WORST times. Usually right before daycare when I have somewhere I need to be, or right after a new outfit change. I’ve learned to carry extra clothes for them everywhere.
  7. Bring extra bows or headbands for the girls. My daughter is a professional at taking off her headband or pony tail and throwing it on the ground. For some reason she thinks it’s the coolest thing ever. I don’t, so bring extra.
  8. Don’t buy the whole package. Those places are SO expensive to purchase their packages. Order one (or even the digital photo), go to Target or Walmart and copy copy copy!
  9. Have toys for while they wait. My toddler gets bored very easily. He won’t sit still for more then 30 seconds, then he starts tugging at the ropes. So, if the lines are long, be prepared by having activities. Such as coloring book or if you allow technology, a tablet.
  10. Go early in the season. The earlier you go, the less crowded it’ll be. Plus you’ll have time make Christmas cards or use the photo’s as a Christmas gift.

Overall, just enjoy the photo session! Don’t get too stressed out or worked up over the perfect photo. They are young, these are fun memories to always look back on.

Weekend One of Holiday Adventures

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As I was explaining in the previous post, the holiday season is my favorite time of the year, and I always want it to go perfectly smooth and as planned. I still don’t know why I think that’s possible as a mom with two kids, but I always want to think positive. But of course, our first weekend of festivities didn’t go completely as planned, but it was one of best times I’ve had in a long time.

Saturday was the first-time baking cookies with my mom and daughter. I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited for this moment. Of course, my son has been an amazing helper for the past few years, but baking with my daughter really brought back memories of when I baked with my mom and grandmother. Even to this day we use my grandmother’s recipes, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it, those cookies are freaking delicious. I’m so happy my family is so close, that we can keep this tradition going. We’ve had the cooking baking planned for weeks, so I had this day all ready to go. I was going to have my daughter “attempt” to help (yes at only nine months old). I was going to get all kinds of pictures with her “helping” my mom and I, listen to a bunch of Christmas music, cook a crap load of cookies, put them in cute little holiday bins and of course sneak in some cookie dough eating.

Yeah… that didn’t happen. Little miss Liliana just wanted to cry when mommy wasn’t holding her, cartoons were all that kept her calm so that canceled the Christmas music, didn’t get one photo of her “helping” because we all know at nine months old… she didn’t, and to top it all off, my girl blew out her diaper like no tomorrow. It totally called for a complete tub clean. She gets that from her daddy. We did make a boat load of cookies, so my father, husband, and son will be happy campers for a few weeks because these cookies are delicious! Honestly, I had no clue how serious cooking baking was in my household. We had two Kitchen Aid mixers going, non-stop pans going in and out of the oven, putting them on the cooling rack. It’s no joke. I guess when I was younger, I just did all the cookie dough eating. All I know, is when my husband and I build our new home, we are getting a massive kitchen with a double oven. It’s a must.

As the cookie baking came to an end, I realized nothing I had planned happened. I was also asked “Why were you so worried about her helping, she’s only nine months old, she won’t remember”. That’s probably something you shouldn’t say to a mom. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t give a crap how old my kids are, these are memories! Memories that I want to cherish forever. It’s traditions I want to start with my kids. It’s something this mom wants to do. I don’t care if they are two days old, two years old, or even twenty years old, my kids are going to be my little helpers even if they don’t remember a damn thing! One day they might not want to do these traditions with me, so I’m going to cherish it as long as I freakin’ can! And although Lilly didn’t do anything when it came to cookie baking, she was there, she watched us make the cookies and she even ate a bunch. So, I will take it.

This was also the first weekend Liliana met Santa, and she didn’t cry…yet. He comes around my parent’s neighborhood on his sleigh every year, guided by community firetrucks. It’s an enjoyable time that my son has been doing ever since he was a baby and this year we finally had our girl here to join. This is probably one of the top things my mom enjoys doing with her grand kids. So, I texted our best friends (also Lilly’s godparents), and my brother and sister in law who have my wonderful niece and nephew, and I told them all to come down so the kids can see Santa together. My brother being the best, brought my mom, sister in law, best friend and I some Prosecco to drink, he knows us all too well. We love our wine, and our gossip. The girls chatted, guys watched football, and the kids played.

Around 5PM we started hearing the sirens of the firetrucks and the kiddos knew Santa was coming. So, we bundled them up, headed down the driveway and waited for Santa to come. We waited, and waited, and waited… in the freezing cold. To pass the time as Santa went down the other streets of the neighborhood, I was finally able to play some Christmas music after listening to cartoons most of the day. We danced at the end of the driveway, ate some food, drank our wine, took pictures, raced with the kids, I even heard my ten-year-old nephew rap the entire song of Ice Ice Baby. Probably the best thing I’ve heard all day, he killed it. The guys walked up and watched football to keep warm, but us moms stayed out in that cold with those kids. When it comes to making the kids happy, I swear us moms turn bionic. We can handle anything. Maybe with a little added wine, but that’s our little secret.

 Santa didn’t come down my parent’s street until almost 10PM….

FIVE HOURS we waited for Santa, FIVE. We were freezing, the kids were cranky, the parents were exhausted, but we stuck it out. We were minutes from giving up. Actually, let me rephrase that… the dads were minutes from giving up. Us moms were determined to have our babies see Santa. Even if that meant sitting in the cold for another hour or tracking Santa down in the car, stopping in front of the firetrucks, blocking the road, pushing everyone out of the way, and putting our kids on Santa’s lap ourselves. No shame in my mommin’ game. You don’t mess with a determined mother, we’ll do anything to see our kids smile. I’m afraid of when my kids go to school and they tell me they got bullied, mama won’t back down from telling a kid to back off, like I said, no shame. You don’t upset my babies.

Anyway, back to my evening, the result of all that waiting, was that one picture posted above. One single picture, of all four of the kids together with Santa. That might just be a picture to some people, but that’s everything to me. It made every single minute of waiting worth it. Having the cousins together and being with my family is by far the best feeling in the world. We laughed, we sang, we joked around and the kids loved being together. It’s not often we get all the four cousins together, but it’s the absolute best time. My family knows how to have an enjoyable time, no matter how crazy we are. These are the memories I live for. No matter how much of a sh*t show it is to get to the end the day, no matter how much anxiety I get, or how screwed up my “perfectly planned” day was, I always sit back and think “this day was awesome”. You know why? My kids were part of it. They were with me, all day, and no matter how much of a crazy day I thought it was, they thought it was an amazing day.

You always should make the best out of every day because in your kids eyes every day is the best when they are with mommy, daddy, and people they love. Something about your day may be a disaster, but to them it was the best part. Of course, those five hours of waiting for Santa were unexpected and completely freezing freakin’ cold, but they saw it as more time to play with their cousins, they absolutely loved it (plus it made them extra exhausted, so they fell right asleep… mom win.) That’s why you make the best out of every moment no matter how exhausting it is.

Another weekend come and gone, and more memories made. Mommy life is the best life.

December.. Already?

Seriously though, it’s already December? My son is going to be four in 10 days, and my daughter is two months away from a year old… I can’t handle it. I’m pretty sure December is one of the most stressful yet rewarding months for us moms. From the gift shopping, cookie baking, hiding gifts, wrapping, decorating. I’m pretty sure this is the month where I consume the most wine. I’m that mom who wants everything to be perfect during the holiday season. I want my kids to have every gift they want, I want the tree to look perfect, I want the lights hung evenly in the front of the house. I drive my husband insane. I’m sure my stress, makes him even more stressed. Good thing he’s not home with me all day or he’d probably think I’m even crazier then he already thinks I am.

Why I stress over having the perfect Christmas, especially with two small children? Who freakin’ knows. Just the other day, Kyle broke two of my husband’s authentic Irish ornaments he received from his grandparents, which are irreplaceable. I also tried hanging up the lights outside by myself to save my husband some work and somehow I managed to completely shut off the power that runs to the outside of our house. My son loves running upstairs to my room, and I constantly run up the steps like a mad man to make sure the closet door with all the toys is closed, all while Lilly wants to grab every ornament off the tree. Also, if my son says he wants one more thing he sees on TV, I’m pretty sure I’m going to rip the TV off the wall! The Cunningham household is an adventurous time!

I don’t even want to get started on never having a clue what to get family members. For some reason, us moms are the only ones who go crazy picking out the perfect gifts. You won’t ever see my husband step inside a store to holiday shop. That’s okay though, in some weird, stressful way I get joy out of the madness. As for gifts, all the littles ones in my family already have it all. It makes it nearly impossible to find something. As for the kid’s grandparents, their entire houses are going to be covered with “I love grandma and I love grand pop” things before the kids are teenagers, because I’m terrible at thinking of clever ideas (Please comment some idea’s if you have some!). Then of course, you have my husband who refuses to tell me what he would like and says he doesn’t want anything. You ask what I want? Wine… I want wine, and to sleep in until noon with no interruptions. A mom can dream, right?

I’m excited yet nervous to see how pictures with Santa will turn out this year. If Kyle is scared of something or someone, he will make it known, probably throughout the entire mall. I guess screaming “NO” at the top of his lung and kicking makes everything better… but he did pretty well last year so fingers crossed for the same. I’m pretty sure my little Lilly is going to freak out. Hopefully not since her brother will be right there beside her, and she absolutely adores him. Then us mom’s have to stand behind the camera, shake some toys, be obnoxious, baby talk the kids just so they smile. I have no problem making a fool of myself. Mama wants to good photo!

In the end though, after all the crazy store lines, the late nights wrapping gifts, the huge electric bill from all the lights, the Santa pictures, on Christmas Day when my kids’ faces light up when they come out of their rooms, it is one hundred percent worth it. It makes me love all the madness, and I’ll continue to love the madness and stress for years to come. I seriously love being a mom during the holiday season. It’s one of the best feelings ever, and I look forward to it every single year.