Keeping it Simple this Holiday Season



I am coming to all of you – making a vow, that I will try to keep things simple this Christmas season.  I have never really been one of those moms who goes all out – but I do admit, I use to be kinda a “Martha Stewart” kinda mom and wife.  But no more.

There is a lot to be said for doing things in a small way.  Keeping perspective and the real treasure of the season in mind.  I wrote about Rediscovering the Joy at Christmas Time a couple years back, it was a good review for me today.

It can become easy to want to make more, give more and do more with each year – but for me, I am looking at doing less but having it mean more.  Does that resonate with anyone else?  I am tired of over-stretching, over-doing and losing focus.

So, as I gather myself together and begin to plan my next three weeks, I wanted to share with you my goals for enjoying the season, SIMPLY – perhaps it might help you too?

Morning quiet

I do fairly well in this area, but lately my to-do list has challenged me to get started earlier, so I “decide” to give up my quiet time to get started just a bit sooner on that all important list.  Wrong choice.  Or the past few days I have just slept in because I’ve been tired and fighting the beginning of a cold.  Thank goodness for my essential oils to help my body heal itself!!

I need this connection time with the ONE who gives me strength to get through my day.  I especially need this connection as I remember My Savior during this advent season.  

Doing Less

I think we can all agree we need more margin in our life, even more so during this busy holiday season.  Why on earth do we have to preface it always with “busy holiday season”?  We are busy, busy, busy – parties, shopping, cooking, baking, visiting, wrapping, and more.  It has become an epidemic.  I want to be choosy with how I spend my time – really purposeful in how I manage my time.  I know there are certain things that NEED to get done, but most of the other stuff is negotiable and even not important.

Creating Home Memories

I love being at home – LOVE IT!  I especially enjoy creating memories with my family that can be carried on.  As my kids are getting older, I have one nearly 22 and another a couple days from 18, (and two other younger ones) it is time to do things that really matter.  My time has run out, so they say.  Baking one batch of Christmas Cookies, rather than doing 12 batches.  Watching ONE key Christmas movie instead of five – finding joy together in the small things that aren’t money driven.  That is what I want this year.

No Fancy

I have become much more aware of keeping things simple.  On my decorations, on meals, gifts and such. I am not a big fancy person, I just do not find the same joy in all that I did years ago.  Simple decorations, simple food, simple dress, all that makes me happy.   I like to do an advent with the family, we’ve done Truth in the Tinsel before and loved it, this year we are doing really simple, a box filled with drawers to pull a candy out and read a portion of scripture.  Simple.


I want to consistently be brought back to the season that we are celebrating.  Not overwhelmed with the stuff that needs to be accomplished.  I am the worst at deducting from my schedule, but once again, I want to make an attempt and scaling back and being present more. 

Will you join me?

Family Fun Traditions Matter



Memory making and family traditions  are important for building strong unity within the walls of your home – especially when you are a blended family.  It is critical.

Six years ago I ventured to my husband’s hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico for the first time and had the amazing opportunity to see the International Balloon Fiesta where hundreds of balloonists come in to compete in different events and has taken place every year since 1972.  

Since that visit six years ago, I’ve been back two more times, bringing my son and now my 4 year old, rounding out the elements of a family tradition.  I am sure we will be back again.

If you have never heard of this International Balloon Fiesta – you’ll want to check it out and perhaps even put it on your bucket list!  My photos will not do it justice – by any means – but they are great memories for our family and I wanted to share with you things from my view point.

Being on the field when hundreds of balloons are blown up right in front of your eyes and lift off a matter of feet from you is amazing.  

This year was especially fun and I hope you enjoy the photos I could share here.  If you are looking for some really incredible photos please check out their Facebook page or their website.  It is certainly an event to try to make it to with your family.


When you arrive at the field it is VERY early and dark!  {5:00 AM}  At around 6:30 AM the first few balloonists take to the sky to check the winds – they are the DAWN patrol.

From the website: The Dawn Patrol began at Balloon Fiesta in 1978, when two California balloonists developed position lighting systems that allowed them to fly at night. Dawn Patrol pilots take off in the dark and fly until it is light enough to see landing sites. Fellow balloonists appreciate the Dawn Patrol because they can watch the balloons and get an early idea of wind speeds and directions at different altitudes. On mass ascension days, about a dozen Dawn Patrol balloons perform the Dawn Patrol Show, a choreographed inflation and launch set to music that has been part of the Balloon Fiesta since 1996. Dawn Patrol inflations begin, weather permitting, at about 5:45 AM, with launch around 6:00 AM.

BF-2The balloons are cold inflated with fans and then get stood up by using a burner- which also ends up lighting the balloon up creating a really incredible sight in the early morning hours.  They take a different sort of beauty.

It truly is amazing as you stand and balloons are being inflated all around you – literally ALL around you!!



I stood at the end of this balloon as they began inflating it, from the basket base.  They use big fans to begin inflating and it takes only about 5-10 minutes to get the air in it and begin to take shape.


One of our favorite times is during the special shapes inflation!  There are so many incredibly shaped balloons – it makes it a favorite for the kids {I loved the special shapes too!}


We had the extremely privilege to stand right next to the POW*MIA ballon while their team inflated it.  My four year old was invited into the balloon basket to pretend like he was flying – a one of a time experience for sure!!  We watched the process from start to finish and waved them off as they went on their way.

What special family traditions have you kept alive? 

9 Fall Family Fun Ideas



The mornings are getting cool and the leaves are turning – fall is in the air.  I am definitely one who enjoys the cool, brisk mornings, the warm beverages that you can hold in your hand and sip and the routine that fall brings.

Over the years our family has shared a few fun fall activities to bring in the season and create tradition.  Perhaps incorporating one or two of these into your fall season would bring some needed change and family bonding, they have for us!


We done a few hayrides during my years as a parent, I am going on 22 years now as a mom – we were out of that season for awhile, but with a four year old in the house – it is time again to enjoy this fun fall tradition.  Even though we have many allergic to grass/hay in our family – we’ve got a remedy for that!  


We have fun bringing out the fall decorations at our house.  This is something I didn’t really know my kids looked forward to until one year I didn’t bring them out fast enough.  Hanging a simple fall wreath on the front door and changing some decor inside, really freshens things up.  I love this printable I found too – perfect in my frame by our front door.

Make Apple Butter

Fall means apples, especially in our neck of the woods – The Pacific Northwest!  You can certainly go pick apples at a local farm, find a farmers market and buy a huge box, or just use what you have.  I just made a great batch of Crock Pot Apple Butter (this recipe is the easiest and my hubby’s favorite!) and it is the perfect way to ring in apple season.  

Homemade Apple Cider

Homemade is always better, in my opinion, for so many reasons.  You can change ingredients to fit your taste as well as make it healthier.  I found this easy recipe for Homemade Apple Cider and I am going to mark it on our calendar!


One of my most favorite things to do as a child was to rake leaves and jump in them.  We had a huge yard with the biggest Maple tree – which filled our backyard with leaves.  It is fun to run and jump, but why not do a few crafts with leaves and/or press them to use in your home for decorating.

Enjoy Chilly

Bundle up and get outside!  Take a walk in the woods, ride bikes on a trail take a stroll down to grab a hot beverage or make some hot chocolate at home before heading off outside.  Hats, scarves and down jackets are perfect for bundling up and enjoying the outdoors.

Pumpkin Pie

Why not try making a pumpkin pie completely from scratch!??  I know sounds crazy – but what an experience and memory making.  Buying or even picking the pumpkin fresh from the field, cooking down the fresh pumpkin and making the crust – this would be an all day project, but worth every penny!  Take pictures to keep the memory alive, you likely won’t want to do it again!  đź™‚

Marshmallow Roast

Bundle up after dinner and head outside to roast some marshmallows, drink cocoa and make s’mores!  We purchased a fire pit (like this one) and have not used it as much as I would have hoped….. so I am determined to get a bit more excited about gathering everyone up after dinner and having some fun around the fire pit rather than just the TV.  Conversations develop that would not otherwise, I know this and it takes intentional set-up to make it happen.  We might even pick a book that would be fun to read through and do that while keeping warm and watching the flames.

Corn Maze

I admit – I hate corn mazes – but others in my family love them.  So….. I go too.  A few years ago we went to a pumpkin patch which had a maze and in the center was a small baseball field.  It was just like out of “Field of Dreams” – and to this day my four year old talks about that corn maze.  Memories…….

What is your favorite fall activity to do as a family?

Rediscovering Joy at Christmas


The other day I asked what the biggest struggles you were facing this Christmas season on our Facebook page. I got a variety of answers, some were expected, but some were a surprise:

  • Not feel rushed
  • Enjoy family
  • Finding Time
  • Getting Presents
  • Finances
  • Curbing overspending
  • Focusing on Jesus
  • Finding the Spirit among the world view

It is hard – the season, the struggles, the emotions… much as we want a glorious, memory filled season, it can be daunting. 

So many of us are facing major challenges this year and are finding it hard to overcome. [Read more…]

Easy Family Christmas Traditions


Being part of a family inevitably means there will be traditions passed down through the years.  This is a wonderful way to hold onto deep connection with your heritage.  Many people share specific Christmas traditions with their family that they did as they grew up in their family of origin.

Maybe you’re just beginning your Christmas holidays as a family and you don’t really have any traditions of your own yet, or are looking to add a few.  I share a list of things that my family has incorporated into our holiday season through the years and also add a few new ideas.

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What traditions are embedded in your family? 

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