Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Well, y’all – Christmas is over. The presents are are now unwrapped and strewn through every room in my house. The food is eaten, and I’m still feeling quite full. The Christmas music has stopped (because there’s only so much Mariah Carey, Glee & the Chipmunks that I can take).

You know what else? I no longer have to move Cookie (our Elf on the Shelf).

I know I wrote about why I love elf on the shelf, and I firmly stick to that. Watching Christian every morning looking for and finding Cookie was so sweet, and I’m absolutely going to be crushed when he no longer believes. But for now, he does, and that’s why I think it’s important.


I’m probably not going to miss waking up at 6am several mornings with a small (but very real) panic inching up my throat, hoping Christian hasn’t woken up yet because I forgot to move Cookie. At which time I would feel my way through the darkness, down the stairs and – with barely open eyes – find an interesting spot for our Elf.

I like to make you think I’m perfect, but I’m kind of a mess.

Some days were kind of boring for our Find Cookie adventures, but such is life.

And because I know you’re on the edge of your seat, dying to see photos, here are a few of our Cookie placements. (I was failblog a lot and didn’t take pictures everyday. Don’t judge me.)

Until next year, Cookie.

I hope y’all had the merriest of Christmases!


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I’m one of those people.

I move our Elf on the Shelf, Cookie (not sure if it’s a boy or girl?), every night to a new place. I try to be creative. I try to be funny.

And once Cookie is in her (his?) place for the next day, I snap an Instagram so I’ll have a bunch of pictures for our 2012 photo book. And I usually upload that photo to a few social media sites.

(Well, except for today. The picture I took was super up-close to the brick on the fireplace and the natural chips in it made the brick look dirty. And I’m certainly not going to share that with the world.)

And then I read this blog post.

She clearly never made it on Santa’s Nice list.

If you didn’t read it (because, let’s be honest, you didn’t), it basically says that she’s annoyed by the over-achieving Elf-on-the-Shelf-ers. She wants to know why we can’t all just put the little red guy on an actual shelf and call it a night. And, according to her blog title, she wants to punch us in the face.

She’s certainly not the only one. After Thanksgiving, I saw a bunch of Facebook posts that were all, “Crap, now I have to look at all your Elf-on-the-Shelf pictures for the next month.”

Yeah, well, I have to look at your face show up on my news feed all year long, so you can deal with this for thirty days, okay?

I went there.


I get that it’s most likely annoying that I (& everyone else) share our Elf photos to every. social media site. ever. I mean, I don’t particularly enjoy reading statuses about people’s kids taking a crap in the potty for the first time with a photo to boot, so I totally get the overshare factor. There’s a Hide From Timeline button for a reason.

But I don’t do Elf on the Shelf just to be able to upload photos.

I do it because every morning when Christian comes down the stairs, hair dripping wet from the shower of which he just jumped out, buttoning his pajama shirt as he walks, one of the first things he says is, “We have to find Cookie.” And then he walks from room to room, looking on the mantles, in shadowboxes, under the tree, on the tables. He asks Faith to help, and she always does.


They look together until one of them inevitably proclaims, “I found Cookie!,” and then the other runs to meet up. And when they see the silly new place and position of our little Cookie, their eyes actually light up.


Sometimes they laugh big from their bellies, and sometimes they ask how in the world did Cookie do that? Always, though, Christian is amazed that our Elf can move from one place to another, by herself, just to watch over him.

That’s why. The magic of Christmas.

There’s not a chance I’d stop these fun, silly things with the Elf and go back to just moving her from shelf to mantle to shelf to mantle, because the whole five minutes it takes to set up her nightly scene is so stinkin’ worth it. There’s not a single episode of the Kardashians that can’t be missed for this.

And you know what? In no time, these innocent little babies will grow out of their morning Find-Cookie routine. Faith already has – she just plays Big Sister. But next year? Christian might not care. So I’m soaking up every single moment I have.

You should, too.


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A List I Can’t Make

I have a dilemma.

It has nothing to do with the ongoing economic depression our country is experiencing. Nor anything related to all these non-bathing, unemployed, pot-smoking-because-what-else-do-I-have-to-do-with-my-life hippies camping out in protest.

In fact, I’m kind of embarrassed to tell you about my dilemma.

But here I go.

I have no idea what I want for Christmas!

At any given time in life, I can make a list of approximately one hundred items that I would like to own. A couple months before Christmas every year, I make a list for my mother of things she can purchase for me for Christmas (per her request), complete with pictures, store locations, prices and whatever she needs to know to finish her shopping for me.

(Don’t judge me. I was never allowed to believe in Santa, okay?)

Last year, it was a doozie. My list included a MacBook, DSLR camera, sewing machine, dutch oven and a multitude of other, smaller things.

And last year, I got a DSLR camera and a dutch oven, along with a multitude of other things.

Since, then, I’ve also been handed down a sewing machine. No MacBook as of yet, but I’m rethinking that decision, considering my white Sony Vaio is perfectly fine, if you don’t count the battery not working and it having to be plugged into a wall to be used.

I also have a perfectly acceptable cell phone. An iPod. An iPad. A perfectly acceptable television. I have a KitchenAid mixer. Cake plates and pretty kitchen accessories out the wazoo. I have more shoes than will fit in my closet.

Wait. What am I saying? One can never have too many pairs of shoes.

I’m not trying to sound conceited or brag about the things I have (because, let’s face it – it’s not a lot). But, I’m at a point in my life that I’m content. I love the things I have, and I know I have way more than I need and more than I deserve.

And, quite honestly, I’m shocked that I can’t think of anything that I want.

Well, except that pair of black Michael Kors flats. I kind of need those.

And maybe a Michael Kors purse to match. I’m just sayin’.

Okay, so there are two things. I need help.

What is on your list for Christmas? I need some serious ideas.

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I haven’t blogged in such a long time. I don’t know what is up with me, but I have zero inspiration. Aren’t journalists supposed to find inspiration even when there is nothing to write about? Thank you, five years of Journalism school. Fail.

Christmas was good. Very good, actually. Best Christmas in a long, long time.

But Christmas is over. Decorations are put away (with no help from me), the White Trash my mom made is all gone and I’m so tired of hearing Happy Holidays I could pull my fingernails off with tweezers. Okay, maybe that is an exaggeration.

From one holiday to the next, though, and New Years is right around the corner. Or tomorrow night, however you want to look at it. And, as always, the turn of the decade year makes me think about the things I wanted to do, but didn’t. The person I planned to become, and haven’t. The decisions I meant to make, but couldn’t. It is certainly a little depressing, mostly because I go through this every December 31st or so. But who doesn’t right?

Looking back over 2009, it hasn’t exactly been ideal. Lots of ups and downs (emphasis on downs). I’ve made a lot of stupid decisions. Cried a lot. Wondered, “why me?” Felt bad for wondering, “why me?” when it certainly could be worse. Cried some more from shame. Repeat.

It wasn’t all bad. I had some happy times. Like Christmas. It was really good, did I mention that? And the Eight-Year-Old Teenager told me she loved me for the first time. That was really, really good. And the time the ManFriend said “I wanted to do a Tiffany Christmas present every year for you.” That almost made me cry. Very sweet.

I have good people in my life. My family is amazing and love me no .. matter .. what. That’s a good feeling.

But I think what really determines happiness is not what everyone else is to you, but what you are to yourself. And in that, I have failed miserably. It’s not a pity party day – just not in the mood. But I do have a lot on my mind that I want to do with my life. Even if it means just cutting out pizza once a week (down to only 17 times) or paying off a credit card. So many little victories I could have if I just set my mind to it.

For sure, though, I want to blog more. Even if I have no inspiration … just write. Anything. Here’s why:

That made me … so … happy. A lot of times when I write, I feel like it is all so juvenile. Nothing interesting. And on second thought, I’ll have to say that is probably the truth. But if just one person enjoys what I do, it’s worth it.

I don’t have a big blog community yet, but that’s another goal. I love the friends I have met, like Chelsea, Lauren and Meghan (although Meghan and I go way back, enduring the days of Burnis’ journalism classes), but I want more. Lots more. Is that greedy? I don’t care if it is. I love reading other blogs. Makes me happy.

So, it comes down to this. I’m not making New Year’s Resolutions because I never keep them (except for that one year I went an entire 364 days without drinking a sip of soda … until the ManFriend talked me into a Mountain Dew on New Year’s Eve). I’m going to make a list of “things to better my life.” If I don’t keep them, my life stays mediocre. If I keep them, life becomes all I have ever wanted. And I can only blame myself if it isn’t.

Lots of pressure for 2010. But I think it’s going to be a great year!

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1. When do you put up and take down your Christmas decorations?
It’s my family’s tradition to put up the tree on Thanksgiving Day, while The Grinch Who Stole Christmas plays on the TV. Typically, my mom would end up dressing the tree while I sat and watched the movie. This year, I got to do the lights and not fun stuff while the kids watched the Grinch. It’s funny how life works.

It’s usually the plan to take the tree down on Jan. 1, but that is totally dependent on tiredness, laziness and wanting to preserve the Christmas season as long as possible. So, basically, the tree comes down when I get to it.

2. What do you do to simplify the holiday season?
Simplify? SIMPLIFY? You’ve got to be kidding me?! Well, actually, this year has been much simpler because I have a real job, aka not retail or waitressing. Therefore, I get nights and weekends free, AND, for the first time in several years, I don’t work Christmas Eve – so I will actually make it to Christmas festivities on time! Yay!

But if you want something intentional, then let’s go with: lists. Just like Santa. Make a list and check it twice … or twenty-seven. This way you don’t forget anyone or anything. Unless you mean to.

3. What do you do to remind yourself and your family what the Christmas season is all about?
This year has been especially difficult – money has been tight all around. So, when I have been upset because I’m, well, poor, I remind myself it could be worse
I could be minus one of my family members, fatally ill, homeless (well, I sort of am). There are so many possibilities, but God has blessed me with a wonderful, whole family and relatively good health. If I can’t buy Evan a PS3, he just has to deal with it and be happy that I’m healthy!

So, that didn’t really answer the question. My point was: when you aren’t thinking about how much you’re spending on gifts or who you have yet to buy for, you have more time (and sanity) to remember this is about Christ’s birth and the sacrifices He made for me. (Thank You, Jesus!)

4. How do you spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day?
Christmas Eve:
Typically work ’til 6ish. Not this year! Ha! … Chapman family around 6ish. Usually pizza or something very un-Christmas-y. (I know, right?) Sit around in the loudness of the little trailer, unable to even hear yourself think. Throw in a saxophone number or two from Cousin Jeremy, and that’s about it.
On to the Eplin family. I always walk in to my Mamaw stirring the punch (or if she isn’t, we do a take 2). Have I mentioned she makes the.. best.. punch? We eat ham and potato salad and other very Christmas-y foods (don’t forget the chocolate-covered cherries! Yum!). When the kids (ie, me) can’t stand it any longer, I play Santa and hand out the presents. Then we open them one-by-one, youngest to oldest. It’s really embarrassing when you get underwear, because everyone is watching. Then we sit around and talk and be a family until our eyes refuse to open anymore. Then we all go home. Well, except Mamaw and Papaw, of course. They live there.
Then to Mom and Dad’s to open presents. I don’t remember a time when we actually waited until Christmas morning to unwrap gifts. But, keep in mind, I was never allowed to believe in Santa. Deprived, I know. Then we say “Thanks, Mom and Dad” and go home to sleep. Or wrap more presents for “Santa’s arrival” the next morning.

Christmas Day:
Last year was my first Christmas morning with the kids – and I loved it. I’m kind of bummed they’re with their Mommy this year, but I guess it’s just fair to share. Oh well. Kids at noon, presents, fun.
Back to Mamaw and Papaw Eplin’s for dinner .. at lunch time. More Christmas-y foods. And, of course, scouring the newspaper ads for the day-after-Christmas sales. Very relaxing day.

Except this year, all that will change. Because of the major blizzard that ran through West Virginia, most of Salt Rock (where my extended family lives) is 100% power-less. Literally. So, instead of going to my family, my family will probably be coming to us – at my Mom’s, of course. Fun times. I’m sure a blog or two will ensue from that little event.

5. What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
Baking cookies with the women in my family! This year, I wasn’t allowed to touch anything edible because I was sick (boo!). Regardless, it was the togetherness and Christmas music in the background that made it so lovely – not the actual baking.

6.  Did you do the whole Santa thing growing up? What do you like/not like about continuing the tradition?
Oops. I should have read all the questions before starting. So, yeah – my dad never let my brother and I believe in Santa. Why? Because he just isn’t the reason for the season. Do I think it’s a little ridic? Yes. Am I scarred for life? Maybe. Does it stop me from continuing the tradition of Santa? Nope. I remind the kids often why we celebrate Christmas, and when I have children of my own, they will know Jesus always takes precedence over Santa.

7. What is your favorite Christmas cookie?
I love to make sugar cookies – mainly because I love using cookie cutters and frosting to make ridiculously cute cookies (although I missed out this year!). But I love to eat fruit chews, even though that’s technically not a cookie. I’m usually not a big chewy-fruity kind of gal, but something about that little bar of greatness makes Christmas just that much better.

8. How do you take your egg nog?
I’m not sure. I’ve never had it. Should I?

9. What is your favorite Christmas carol and why?
Carol of the Bells. When done in perfection, it is bliss to my ears. Like that one year in Collegium (my high school madrigal choir), we were flawless in our rendition of Carol of the Bells. So much so that we gave ourselves goosebumps. I wish I could find that tape. If I ever do, I’ll certainly share the joyousness with you.

10. When was the last time you had a white Christmas?
A real while Christmas? As in, not a dusting or a sprinkle? Probably years and years. But I’m hoping for one this year! Ooh, I love a white Christmas!

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Craft Time

It really is the most wonderful time of the year. I love it.

And every year, I look forward to making Christmas cards with the kids. Messy. Time consuming. Slightly hectic. But so much fun!

This year, like always, we started with blank construction paper, glue and googly eyes, and came up with wonderful creations. But I got smarter this time around. I pre-made the cards – meaning I cut out the pieces needed for each card before we sat down to craft. Time saved = lots.

Here are some of what we created… (please disregard the dirty table)

Mittens done by Faith, and the snowman with the upside-down hat done by Christian.

Snowman with no mouth (Christian), handprint-beard Santa (Christian), adorable tree (Faith), Ho to the third power (Christian) … get it?

Of course, I had to join in on the fun.

‘Tis the reason for the Season. And who doesn’t love a pop-up card?

Fun times.

We’ve done a few other crafts already this Christmas. We started doing Froot Loop ornaments on the mini-tree in the kids’ room … but Piper got hungry. She left us three.

Haven’t gotten around to making the construction paper chain garland … will have to work on that.

This stuff is sooo time consuming, but worth it. They had a lot of fun.

Probably the most inconvenient thing was the unorganized mess we found ourselves in – glue sticks, scissors, scrap construction paper, googly eyes. It would have been sooo nice to have a central place for neatness.

It would have been sooo nice to have this:

| via |

Okay, so it’s technically a purse (and a super cute one, at that)! But it could just as effectively be used as a stylish storage stash for my scissors, glue sticks, construction paper, google eyes and whatever else I find to add to our creations.

And guess what? Chelsea, kind Chelsea, at Roots and Rings (<– read her blog; she’s hilarious!) is giving this away! Too kind, I know. Go to her witty blog, read about how to enter (super simple) and you could be organizing your googly eyes and glue sticks, too! (Or carrying your money in style.)

See? I just got another entry for telling you about it. How easy was that?

Moral of the story: Christmas is a wonderful time to do fun, creative things you wouldn’t normally schedule on your calendar. Don’t waste it.

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Just a quick post as I stand at Kmart in this line for layaway…

Yes, those are guns we are getting Little Man. We are in West Virginia. West Virginians love their guns. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. That’s all I have to say about that.

Anyway. As I was Christmas shopping for toys, I came across this:

Barbie … and the Rockers! Yes, the doll from my birthyear in all her psychedelic glory. I LOVED Barbie and the Rockers. In fact, it’s one of those songs that still to this day gets stuck in my head. I should try to illegally download that on LimeWire. That sounds like a good idea…

Finding this Barbie absolutely made my day. I didn’t buy the $40 collector’s item, nor will I. But it brought back fantastic memories … and it made me very happy.

Look what I found!!! (my fav song ends at about 1:15)

Also what made me happy: walking through the toy aisles and smelling the new-baby-doll smell, which began my reminiscing about childhood Christmases. An all-around good time.

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