16 December 2012

Christmas Photos

Along with our Christmas update which you can read here, I thought I would include a few of our favourite Christmas photos of Kai.

It has been an eventful year with this little one around! We can't help feeling truly blessed this Christmas and can't wait to see what 2013 will bring. From our family to yours we wish you a joy filled Christmas season!


A Potter Family Christmas Update

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and all the very best for 2013!  Check out our Potter family update by clicking here or by clicking the image below - enjoy!

Homemade Christmas

This year, since I am revamping my Christmas attitude I also wanted a Christmas makeover for our home.  Our Christmas decor was lacking a bit mostly because it came from the Dollar Store or a thrift shop somewhere in Vancouver as this is where we had our first Christmas together.  The bright colours and flashy cartoon figures aren't really my style anymore, but as you might know Christmas decor items can often be expensive and add up pretty quickly. So I decided to revamp Christmas without getting rid of too much by giving it a facelift, so to say.

Another personal goal for me this past month and a bit was to actually complete some of the DIY projects I have been frequently pinning on my "it's the most wonderful time of the year" Pinterest board.  I thought I'd share a few below as well as a few projects I came up with on my own.

I took all of our Christmas bulbs and covered them with burlap, linen, yarn and rope.  I love the finished look!

Pom Pom garland - These are so easy and stringing them together creates a fabulous garland.  I did also make a few stand alone pom pom ornaments and they work well too.

No sew Tree Skirt - I whipped this tree skirt up in no time by gathering burlap and using my handy glue gun.  I will admit I would have liked the skirt to be a bit longer but I ran out of burlap so I will add to it next year. I also made a similar table runner which is not shown here. The fleece for this project was on sale for $7 which lasted for both projects and the burlap came from the dollar store.  Now, I must say that burlap is a bitch to work with and I have no secrets to pass on to make it easier to manage but I will say a little patience goes a long way.

Stocking holders - My wonderful father-in-law cut these for me from a fallen tree in his backyard.  I added the pegs by cutting dowels and gluing them in pre-drilled holes.  I have seen a similar project using the stumps to hold photos by adding a wire circle to the middle but I decided that I liked the simpler look a bit better, plus the photos would obstruct the chalkboard on my mantle.

Chalkboard Frame - I had a chalkboard adhesive on my fridge for a while and was excited to put it to better use then my husbands random notes of phone numbers and what we need to pick up.  It looks much prettier framed!

No water snow globe - I own a ton of mason jars so when I saw this pin I knew I had to put some of them to use for this project.  I think I will add some more white snow but right now the soft touch of glitter is quite pretty.

Nativity set - I love how this looks displayed in an old Pepsi crate.  My husband thought of this as we were trying to figure out where we could put it which would be safe from baby hands.

So in the end I only purchased new stockings, the trees on my mantle and the NOEL sign, all of which I got on sale for 50% off allowing me to revamp my Christmas decor for under $100.  Yippee!  I am in love with our living room right now and am so excited to have our daughter open her first Christmas stocking under the soft glow of our lights.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas indeed in our house!

Rules to a 'no obligation Christmas'

In my last post I shared a bit of my struggle with the busyness of Christmas and mentioned I would share some rules I am trying to follow in order to achieve a more peaceful and stressful season.  Thus my rules to a 'no obligation Christmas'.

#1.  Admit it -  If you are a people pleaser like I am you have to admit to yourself that some of the ways you may pull back on Christmas may not be highly admired by family and you basically have to become okay with this.  For instance, we have decided Christmas Eve and Boxing Day will be family days in our household and we will avoid any Christmas parties on these days.  This new rule means we won't be attending a Christmas Eve celebration we have in the past and we also won't be attending any extended family Christmas gatherings on those days so as to avoid multiple busy days and evenings in a row. "You can't please everyone" they say and I am still learning and re-learning this one.

#2.  Compromise - So like I said above, if you are a people pleaser like me it may kill you to know a family member might be bothered by a change such as this so we have opened up our family days (to an extent) to close family members.  For instance, we attend a Christmas Eve service at our Church in Toronto and we have invited our family members to join us if they wish.  Other activities we may do on these days include: skating, a walk to look at Christmas lights, hot chocolate at a local cafe, basically any sort of Christmasy activity which does not take up the majority of the day, nor involve gifts and is more active in a low key sort of way. Family is welcome to partake in the low key festivity.

#3.  Shop Thoughtfully - I love gift giving, it's basically my favourite part of Christmas.  But sometimes I can go a bit overboard and buy an extra gift or two for a person when I've already bought them plenty.  This year Brett and I have decided to change a few things about the way we gift.  Firstly since we always do stockings to most of our immediate family we have decided that along with a few odds and ends we are going to write letters to that person as a more personal touch.  I'm not trying to go overboard with the sentimentality here but I think it will be nice to take time each year and think through why we appreciate those who are closest to us and to then tell them this.  I am hoping this will make our stockings a bit more special then something you quickly rip through to get to the good stuff.

#4.  Shop Early - Enough said!

#5.  Incorporate Traditions - I think establishing traditions help with the overwhelming nature of the season.  You know what to expect, you know when it will happen etc.  In many ways it helps organize Christmas and organizing helps alleviate stress.  We have always put our Christmas tree up the first week of December thus we know what we are doing on this weekend and since we also exchange a ornament each year we know we have be prepared by this date. Traditions don't have to be complicated they just have to be consistent.

So there it is!  I am hopeful that in sticking to my rules this year that this Christmas will be one of the best yet but with that said here is my final rule for myself.

#6.  Be Realistic and flexible - This one may be the hardest to follow for me but it is very much the most important.  I will often come up with an idea at the very last minute and kill myself to make it happen so this year I am going to try my darndest to be realistic in what myself and my family can handle during this stressful season and focus on the good stuff - family, friends, yummy food, giving gifts, Christmas music, Christmas lights, nativity sets, hot Chocolate, ah the list could go on and on.

The No Obligation Christmas

Well Halloween is over, the costume was worn and candy was collected, Kyla was a Starbucks Frappucino (you can check her costume out here) and she was a cute one at that, even cuter when she scored her dad and I free coffee at our local Starbucks! But now that the dust from Halloween has settled I will admit I have moved on to full out Christmas mode.  I am determined this year to be organized, deliberate and calm this Christmas season creating what I hope will be a stress free first Christmas for my baby girl and family.  So since Christmas is very much on my mind I thought I would share a little in my own journey to what I am calling the 'no obligation Christmas'.

I grew up celebrating only one Christmas and this was always on Christmas day.  December for me was pretty laid back; my Dad's work Christmas party, a few other family social engagements once or twice in the month but mostly my immediate family spent our December evenings and weekends watching Christmas specials, tobogganing, building snowmen etc.  Sounds pretty magical eh!?  It was, it really was and I have spent a lot of time thinking through why my Christmases in the recent past have been filled with stress, fatigue and a general sense that the month and holiday season was moving too fast.

I know part of this reason is that I have grown up and suddenly I am the one who has to shop for presents and organize social engagements with friends and family but I can't help but wonder if I could do something more deliberate to slow Christmas down so as to experience a little more of the magic I did when I was a child.

This past Christmas seemed to be the worst as I was planning a major event at work and was almost 8 months pregnant.  I was so tired by the first week of December and was an awful wife by the time my husbands birthday came around not really having time and energy to pull off the usual festivities that coincide with a birthday in the Potter house (we celebrate birthday week in these parts). Christmas came and went, I honestly can't recall much of it, and by New Year I was spent.  I remember sitting on my couch depressed that I could not partake in wine as the bell dropped and basically immediately went to bed exhausted from what had been a long month.  Once the Christmas season had past and we had recovered my husband and I began to think through what kind of Christmas we wanted to celebrate once our very ripe at the time baby would arrive.  We talked a lot about how we had lost the anticipation of Christmas and that giving had become more of a chore then out of love.  We both desired a Christmas season filled with family time and activities which would remain special to this time of year. So now that the Christmas season is upon us we are beginning to think through how we can make this happen.  Lots to think about indeed!

Stay tuned for my next post:  Rules to the 'no obligation Christmas'.