“MOM, I think there’s something wrong with Coral!” I heard my daughter’s frantic cry from upstairs and knew in my heart what had happened. We had just arrived home from school and I was in the kitchen getting started on dinner when she called out to me from her room. By the time I made it upstairs, the tears had already begun to well up in her eyes. And, after a quick look at the tank confirmed our worst fears, those tears began rolling down her cheeks.[Read more…]
I am on a mission. A mission to help you discover how amazing it feels to live in a peaceful home. More than ever, I believe that we are yearning for spaces where we can shut out the craziness of the world and just ‘be’. With access right at our fingertips to all of the things all of the time, somehow as a culture we are becoming more anxious and less connected.
And there’s a reason it’s said that our homes should be our havens. So, I am passionate about helping you build a foundation of peace in your home which will sustains you when all of the craziness of life comes at you.[Read more…]
Our kids’ bathroom needs updating. Badly. Other than a few minor, inexpensive cosmetic changes that we made after we moved in 11 years ago, that bathroom still has the same look it had when the house was built in 1992.
And, the thing is, we’ve had the money to do it. We save and save and save some more and then when it’s time to pull the trigger we look at each other and just know that we’re going to do something else with that money.[Read more…]
I attended a university that was two hours away from home. It was the perfect distance for me. Far enough to feel like I was “away” from home but close enough to be able to get a break from campus life and do my laundry for free.[Read more…]
You know those moments where you just wish you could push a button in your mind that would act as a sort of ‘screenshot’ and be saved forever so you could pull it up again and again and immediately be transported back to that time and place? I’ve had more of those in my life than I can count and most involve my children. But, one such moment happened last year that seemed so simple at the time but was truly so impactful.
I had the great privilege of being a speaker at the incredible Becoming Conference which takes place each year in the beautiful hills of North Carolina on Lake Junaluska. During one of the breaks, I wandered down to the lakeshore to just bask in the sunshine and soak in the beauty of my surroundings. I saw groups of women sitting together, happily chatting and I had that fleeting moment of wishing I was there with my best friends.
As I walked past one particularly happy group, they said hello to me and invited me to come join them. So I did. And as we sat and talked and laughed together, friendship was born. It was such a seemingly simple act, the inclusion of someone new to them, and yet it reminded me of why I love this particular conference so much.
No pretension, no exclusiveness, no cliques. Just women who are genuinely enjoying a weekend filled with inspiration for making your home a haven and doing it all on a budget.
And, you guys I am SO thrilled to announce that this year not only am I going to be keynote speaker but I am also going to be one of the co-hosts! I’m teaming up with my amazing friends Jen of Balancing Beauty and Bedlam (original founder), Karianne of Thistlewood Farms and Dana of A Slob Comes Clean .
During the weekend of July 26-28 we will be bringing you some of the most amazing classes and sessions which will encourage you to live intentionally by becoming more creative and purposeful. And we will have SO.MUCH.FUN.
Registration is now open and this is definitely a case of the early bird getting the worm because anyone who buys their ticket before March 31 will be entered to win two free conference workshops (furniture painting, crafting, calligraphy, etc.) AND two free boat cruises on beautiful Lake Junaluska!
To get your ticket(s) and read more about what you can expect from this amazing weekend head over to the Becoming Conference website.
And, while I know that for many of you it won’t be possible to make this trek, I’ll be bringing you along with me through Facebook Live videos and other online activities so that you too can join in the fun!
This past year has been filled with a lot of highs and lows for me and I went through a period of time when I experienced a bit of a crisis of confidence when it came to the calling God has placed on my life. But, over and over again He has affirmed that this is exactly what He wants me to do. To be available to listen and encourage, to support and share. And to encourage women in all walks of life to invite more peace into their hearts and their homes. Whether I do it here or in person at a conference or retreat, it is truly the greatest privilege and joy!
Please let me know if you have any questions about the Becoming Conference or if you would be interested in having me speak at an event near you!
Did you know that harem style pants (a la MC Hammer) are making a comeback? Yep. The other day, in a Facebook group I’m apart of, someone shared a photo of an advertisement for an outfit that was a romper version of this ‘style’ and I couldn’t help but think that there are some trends that were so bad the first time around that they really should never make a comeback. And they actually made it even worse! I mean, can anyone actually pull of that look? Every time I see those pants they remind me of when my kids tried to walk around with fully loaded diapers.
And, it made me thankful that I am at a stage in life where I know what works for me and what doesn’t, both in my wardrobe and in my home. I wasted so many years trying to fit into a certain look or trend and I can’t even begin to explain how much freedom there is in embracing your own style.
Case in point, this table in my entry has seen many manifestations. Some of them make me cringe now when I look back at them. Because it was just trying too hard to be something it wasn’t.
I never knew that I could love the tween years as much as I do. According to many articles I’ve read, most girls who are between the ages of 10-12 begin to have wild mood swings, throw toddler-like temper tantrums over not having the right clothes to wear, spend hours on their phones and are trying really hard to move as quickly as possible into the teen years.
This is not the case in our house. In our house, age eleven is pretty special.
When my son was just a little boy, he didn’t simply enjoy trains. He was completely obsessed with them. If we happened to be driving near one he would rattle off the names of each and every car he saw. “Tank car, tank car, hopper car, gondola car, boxcar, boxcar, boxcar, engine.” I spent most of my days down on the floor of our family room helping him construct elaborate tracks for his wooden trains and still feel proud to this day of my ability to figure out how to make everything connect without any breaks in the tracks. Heaven forbid Thomas the Tank Engine should fall off into the abyss!
Never were the trains more magical to all of us than at Christmastime. So, the year that he was 3 1/2, I planned a very special day for my very special train-loving boy. I spent a little bit of time researching and discovered that all throughout our downtown there were train displays set up in various shops. And I found out that in the rotunda of our capitol building the pièce de résistance was a model train which wound its way through a replica of our city.
The chosen day dawned and I informed my son that we were going on a Christmas adventure. At one stop, a kind store clerk moved furniture out of the way so that he could get right up close to the train in the window. At the post office, an employee knew a fellow train-lover when he saw one and, in between helping customers, made the train which wound its way above our heads go back and forth over and over again. Everywhere we went, people saw the wonder in the eyes of that three year old boy and happily added to his excitement. After a quick stop for a sugary treat, we arrived at our final destination. As we entered the two-story, marble covered rotunda of the capitol building with it’s enormous Christmas trees and glittering lights, my son’s eyes locked onto the train display front and center. He patiently waited his turn to push the button to make the train go around the snow-covered village and I fought back tears as I vowed to never forget that moment.
Now, twelve years later, I ask my fifteen year old if he remembers that day. “Vaguely”, he says, much to my chagrin. And I realize why I instinctively knew that I needed to pause and really soak it all up. Because, here we are in the throes of the tween and teen years in our household and I’m pretty sure no one would be jumping up and down with excitement over a day spent looking for train sets around town.
So, what do we do now? How do we make the holiday season special for our older kids when the magic and wonder of the younger years is gone?
Well, I asked this exact question on Facebook recently and received some pretty amazing responses! So I decided to put them all together in one spot and share them with you here.
- Keep as many of the old traditions alive as possible ~ They may roll their eyes when you suggest watching ‘The Polar Express’ or show about the same attention to detail in decorating the tree as they did when they were toddlers (some of them still want to put ALL of the ornaments on one branch!) but I promise you that, deep down in their hearts, your teens and young adults still appreciate your family traditions. With so much change happening in their lives, these moments provide them with a sense of continuity and a reminder that some things will never change.
- Go on a Christmas Scavenger Hunt ~ Divide into teams and head out on a scavenger hunt which will take you around town to various landmarks. Create clues based on song lyrics and require each team to sing the song once they’ve solved the clue and video it for proof. Meet back up at a coffee shop or bakery and watch the videos together!
- Have a Gingerbread House Competition ~ Encourage your teens/young adults to invite some friends to your home and give each of them a gingerbread house kit. Put on music, provide the hot cocoa/coffee and watch the creativity unfold.
- Volunteer Together ~ This is the perfect opportunity to let the older kids in your life do some research and determine where they would like to offer their time and resources to those in need. Not only will you be helping others, but the very act of serving together will be a bonding experience for you as a family and create memories to last a lifetime.
- Go Christmas Light Hunting ~ Take the typical ‘driving around in the car looking at lights’ tradition up a notch by turning it into a game. Print or write out little cards with the words “thank you for lighting the town” and take them with you as you drive through the neighborhoods. Each person gets to pick out their favorite houses, run up and ring the doorbell and leave the card to surprise the homeowner with the sweet note of praise.
- Have an Amaryllis Bulb Race ~ Each person gets their own potted amaryllis bulb with their name on it and then the race is on to see who’s flower is the tallest on Christmas Day. The best part of this idea is that not only is there some friendly competition but you’ll be adding beauty to your home too.
- Create a Family Ornament at a Ceramic Store ~ Now that you’re past the days where the very idea of going into a ceramic store with your kids made you break into a cold sweat you seize this opportunity as parents of older kids to get creative together. Pick out an ornament that represents your family and let each person take part in putting their own stamp on it. Write your names and the date on the back and try not to cry as you hang it on the tree each year.
- Work on a Challenging Puzzle ~ Breaks from school and work are all well and good until everyone starts getting a bit restless and the cabin fever sets in. This is when a large puzzle can become your saving grace! Pick a spot in your home where you can leave the puzzle pieces out (coffee tables are great for this!) and just watch as everyone gravitates to it.
- Encourage Anonymous Giving ~ While volunteering together gives you the opportunity to actually see how you are impacting others, anonymous giving builds character in an entirely different way. Not getting credit for the act is a good reminder that we serve and give not because we want credit for it but because the greatest reward is simply knowing we’ve been able to help someone and holding that feeling in our hearts.
- Pass the Baking/Cooking Baton ~ Now is the perfect time to give yourself a break during this busyness of the season and let your teens/young adults plan meals and tackle some of the holiday baking. Encourage them to look up recipes, do the shopping and cook/bake for the family. Not only does this help prepare them for life outside of your home but it gives you a much-needed rest. That’s a win/win for sure!
Every stage of parenting has it’s really amazing parts and it’s really hard parts. I freely admit to grieving a bit over the fact that my kids have gotten older and the days of playing with train tracks and being invited to imaginary tea parties are long gone. But, one thing I’ve realized is that we need to embrace each new stage and that there is still so much fun to be had! In fact, these years ahead of us with teens and young adults leaves so much more room to experience the magic and wonder of the season in brand new ways. We can stay up later, drink coffee together, watch non-cartoon movies and get to know each other as individuals and build a relationship that goes beyond just parent/child.
It’s all about choosing to be intentional and creating an environment where they know they can always just be themselves and that their friends are always welcome.
So, what would YOU add to this list? I’d love to hear some of the ways that you have celebrated the holiday season with your teens or young adults.
And I want to say a BIG thank you to all of my fellow mamas who helped me come up with this list of fantastic and fun ideas!
Much love to you all,
“Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!” ~
Welcome, dear friends, welcome! I’m so thrilled to be opening my home for a Christmas tour to you today as part of the annual Jennifer Rizzo Holiday Housewalk! You will want to start at the very beginning to soak up all of the beautiful inspiration so head over to her place and sit back and take it all in.
If you are arriving here from my friend Traci’s beautiful home, I’m so glad that you decided to continue on with the tour and I hope you feel very welcomed.
Many years ago, as my husband and I sat on the couch on a December evening flipping through the channels on the TV, we stumbled across the tail end of the Rick Steve’s European Christmas Special on PBS. We were immediately captivated and in those few minutes we felt like we were transported into another world. As soon as it was over I got online and ordered the DVD so that we could share it with our kids.
Watching it with them, not only did I just find it so fascinating learning about how Christmas is celebrated in various communities throughout Europe, I was also struck by something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on but that I knew spoke to my soul.
And, over the years, as we’ve watched it again and again, I finally realized just what it was that so captivated me.
Every single home was decorated so very simply, mostly with natural elements, and yet still so perfectly captured the spirit of Christmas.