celebrations, Parenting

Milk & cookies

When I was a kid, every Christmas Eve we had epic Christmas parties with families and friends. Those nights are some of the highlights of my childhood. The adults would stay inside, eating and drinking hot cider, and the kids would be running around like wild heathens outside, playing hide and seek and chase. Often, we’d have visits from Santa during the parties, too.

In fact, one of my first realizations that I did not want to be a newspaper reporter my entire life was working my first Christmas Eve after college graduation and knowing I was missing my family’s party. I was so irritated, because I absolutely loved those parties.

Since then, with my own kids, I thought about starting our own Christmas Eve parties to keep up the tradition – but it didn’t work for our family. Our church hosts a beautiful, memorable Christmas Eve service every year – and I did not want to miss that or ask others to miss out, either.

So, instead, we host Milk & Cookies parties for the kids one morning before Christmas. It’s wild and chaotic and filled with sprinkles and sugar. And while I call it a Milk & Cookies party, it’s really more of a Milk-and-cookies-and-pjs-and-watch-The-Grinch party. Because that’s what we do. The kids (and I) wear Christmas pajamas and eat way too many cookies (most of the time guests are sent home with a bag of cookies as well) and we have the old Grinch cartoon playing in the background. I say in the background because, in our four years of hosting this party, I’m not sure if the kids have ever finished the movie. Did I mention the cookies? Yeah. Usually they’re all sugared up, running around and playing in the kids’ rooms. And it is wonderful. It’s beautiful and lovely because the parents and I are watching our kids with these new traditions, growing up together.

This year, for the first time, The Artist asked if we would have the Grinch party this year. She’s remembering it now, and those memories are good. They are grand. She knows her friends will come over and play and I won’t tell her one time to stop eating all the cookies she wants (She and The Engineer managed to eat quite a lot last year by sneaking cookies off of peoples’ plates).

When I was first married, I thought we needed to have certain traditions that first year – but all the traditions I tried to form never worked. We tried to go to Natchitoches every New Year’s Eve. Nope. Worked for three years and that was it. We tried to go certain places for Christmas. That didn’t work.

The best holiday traditions we have now are the ones that just started naturally. I hosted the first Milk & Cookies party when The Artist was almost two, and our group of friends had maybe 5 kids among 5 families. Now – now, we have about 20 kids who come in about 8 or 9 families.

We somehow started a Christmas tradition without even realizing it. And that one is one I’ll treasure forever.

That and lying in bed on Christmas Eve and laughing as Kyle irritably puts together way too complicated Christmas toys while watching “Christmas Vacation.”

Hey, I never said I was a saint.

celebrations, Parenting, Sweet girls

Christmas toys

Happy December!

I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m pretty ready for Dec. 25 when I can pull out all the toys I’ve hidden around my house. The girls are getting older now – and much more agile – and it’s getting harder and harder to hide their gifts. We’ve been storing most of them in Kyle’s car, though I do have some in the closet where they can’t reach.

As they also can’t read – or at least can’t access the Internet and this blog, I thought I would share what our little Engineer and Artist are getting for Christmas. I always look to other parents to see what they’re getting their kids so I can get some ideas, so I thought I’d share what we bought the kids Thanksgiving night while lying in bed in pjs and watching Netflix (which is the only way to shop this time of the year).

Both of the girls are into “Paw Patrol” and “Puppy Dog Pals,” but The Artist also loves her American Girl doll, Mary Ellen. In her letter to Santa, she specifically asked for a car for Mary Ellen (In case you were like me and did not know until recently, please be aware there is a Target brand for American Girl — Santa has a budget!!) and a Skye (“Paw Patrol”) doll.


So, yes, she received both of those — and The Engineer will receive a Skye doll too, because we don’t want to deal with her stealing Big Sister’s doll. Because it will happen otherwise.


Both kids also received mermaid tail blankets with reverse sequins – reverse sequins have been a BIG deal for The Artist for a year now. She loves them. They also love cuddling in blankets and watching TV, so I thought these would be practical, too. And, yes, both got the same color blanket – again, not fighting over colors this year.

Speaking of colors – each kid got a big box of crayons, too. We go through crayons like Kleenex at our house. The girls color and draw every day, and we have gone through a big box of crayons since school started this fall. So I figured two huge boxes would help for this coming spring.

The Engineer (again, she is two), has the Paw Patrol Lookout Tower, which will be probably just slightly shorter than she is. She’s going to be so excited – so will The Artist. I can totally see them both playing with this a lot during break.


The Engineer also received a new pair of shoes, because she desperately needs some, a Paw Patrol Look and Find Book, and a Skye hat because her hats are too small. We don’t usually wear hats in Louisiana during winter, but we’ll have about a week of super cold weather, so she’ll need a hat then.

The Artist (who is five) also received a pair of shoes, which are needed, a new church dress (also needed), and a book on how to draw fairies and mermaids.


We try to get the kids four big gifts: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. We succeeded for these four, and then they’ll receive small stocking stuffers as well, like nail polish, stamps, and candy canes – or mermaid tail blankets and colors, ha!

Lastly, too, we have the kids pick out a gift for each other – so in a few weeks, I’ll take The Artist shopping to get her sister a gift and then The Engineer will “pick” out a gift for her sister. It’ll probably be hair ribbons. Girl needs some new bows.

What are your kids getting for Christmas?

celebrations, marriage, Uncategorized

Thankful for marriage

Happy Thanksgiving!

On this Thanksgiving — I actually want to be a little serious for a bit and talk about my husband. He’s awesome. He’s wonderful. He’s my favorite person in the world, and I’m his favorite. And this Thanksgiving, I want to talk about how thankful I am for him.

I was recently featured on John Thomas’ website, Inspire Your Marriage, and so I’m linking to the post featured on his site. Thanks to John to allowing me to share my story.

Link to the blog here.

And, of course — gobble, gobble!


celebrations, Jesus, Parenting

Preparing our hearts for Thanksgiving

We come to give thanks.

We situate this holiday, Thanksgiving, between gorging ourselves on candy at Halloween and gorging ourselves on spending at Christmas. Perhaps it’s the best place to put it to help us remember to be grateful for what we have. We bless God and thank God for His mercy, His grace, and His steadfast love.

For 22 days, at least this month, we have an opportunity to focus on thankfulness for our blessings.

We started a new tradition – though, with little ones, it’s hard to have traditions – so we started something new this year: thankful leaves. Every day starting Nov. 1, each member of our family has listed something for which to be grateful and thankful on a cut out leaf. It’s sometimes serious, sometimes funny, and sometimes a struggle because, again, we have two children who are silly, young, and, most importantly, impressionable.

Every night, they hear what Mommy and Daddy are grateful for: family, health, friends, reading. We haven’t gotten far yet, but it is only Day 5. We are thankful for each other. We are thankful for the love shared between our two girls. We are thankful for our health, something which has been a struggle for too many years.

Then we ask our 5-year-old what she is thankful for. She’s 5. She knows the Sunday school answers and has already listed them: God, Jesus, my family. But she can’t use the same answer twice, so she has to think a little more. “My sister,” she answers, and we know she means it. Before the crack of dawn, if The Artist is awake, she can’t help herself. She has to go sneak into her baby sister’s room and wake her up to play. She misses her at school – and the feeling is mutual. Before The Artist leaves with her daddy for school, The Engineer yells, “Wait! A hug! A hug!” And they hug and give each other kisses with the promise that, “I’ll see you after school.”

Lastly, it’s The Engineer’s turn. She doesn’t really understand what’s going on. She doesn’t understand the concept of “thankfulness,” so we ask her, “What are you happy for?” And then we giggle, because her answers are so truthful and so simple. The first day, she held up a Paw Patrol chicken nugget and said, “Paw ‘trol!” because she was thankful for those bone-shaped chicken nuggets. The next day, she answered the name of a friend.

We all are thankful for someone or something. We all will get wrapped up in the pretty, glittery Christmastime – as we should. Christmas is its own special, miraculous holiday that deserves splendor and glory to God.

But Thanksgiving – Thanksgiving is still warm, still fall, still crunchy leaves and all things pumpkin. Oh, how it blesses us to give thanks to the Lord! It’s a reminder all the time to see the beauty in God’s creation as the leaves fall and swirl around us, revealing bare trees and chilly winds as the colors of red, orange, brown, and purple gently rain down from the sky.

And, as The Artist stated on the first day, she is quite thankful to catch the falling leaves.



My kids will wake up this morning with Halloween withdrawal.

It first occurred with The Artist when she was 2 ½. For a week, she’d been allowed to wear costumes to school, to the library, to the store. She’d eaten mounds of candy, gone trick-or-treating downtown and in our neighborhood. It was a great year.

Then Nov. 1 occurred. And instead of getting to wear her Cinderella dress (again), she had to wear regular clothes, including – gasp – pants.

Tears ensued. She undressed herself twice that morning, and Kyle had to calm her down and explain to her that Halloween was officially over.

This has been The Engineer’s first Halloween to really experience all of the activities. She has been so adorable trick-or-treating because she says, “Treat or treat!” as she holds out her jack-o-lantern candy pail and then yells, “THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!” like she can’t believe she just got free candy again.

Somehow, we have been trick or treating not once, not twice, NOT EVEN THREE times, but FOUR times. FOUR.

I blame it on the weather.

So I spontaneously took the girls Saturday to Farmers Market to trick or treat. It was quick, small, and precious. Got The Engineer some TorTing practice. Get her ready for the big leagues come next week.

Then we find out Sunday that it’s supposed to rain Wednesday. Not just rain, but storm. Hard.

Our town hosts downtown trick or treating every year right before Halloween, and this time it fell on a Monday. So, sure. Let’s do that. Why not? We did, and by this point we have way too much candy and my kids are Olympic-class TorT professionals.

Just science tricks at a booth held by a chemistry organization from campus.

Then my neighbor texts, saying that since it’s supposed to rain Wednesday, she and another neighbor are taking their kids to a nearby neighborhood to trick or treat. Would we like to join?

Well, of course.

And the kids had a blast – the neighborhood had houses close together, everyone was walking comfortably on the streets, and we were finished within 30 minutes. Perfect.


And then it cleared up for Wednesday.

Well, great.

Four trick or treats over the past five days has worn this mama out – and the kids out, too. But those costumes got some good wear, and we all made sweet holiday memories.

And we have candy store piled until next year.