2019 Christmas Recap

Oh what an interesting holiday we had. Every year I have learned to keep a sense of humor and I had to laugh a little to keep my sanity going. This one was definitely for the books.

Its Getting Hot in Here, or Naw

So 2 days before Christmas I get up and I feel all kinds of cold. I thought let me turn the heat up only to find that after a few minutes the temperature dropped more. I immediately wake my husband and we discovered the ignitor was broken. We call over someone to take a look at it and now because of the holiday we have to wait a day for the part to come in. So thankfully we had some space heaters which are more like fans instead of the old school ones I grew up with to keep us warm. At first in my mind I’m like this is no big deal however it triggered a feeling of complete panic! I questioned if the part would come in or if we would spend the next few days cold. Now grant it; the temperature was 50 during the day and I’m grateful it happened during the warmer Winter days instead of the colder ones!

Christmas Stomach Bug Anyone?

There was and still is a stomach bug going around so please be aware. My son got it Saturday morning. My niece got it on Saturday night while we were doing Gingerbread houses. Someone in her daycare got it and it spread like flies. I just knew we would be in the clear. Back to my son who seemed to be over it after a few hours only for it to return Monday morning and this time with a vengeance. My daughters had it by Tuesday morning. So I couldn’t wrap gifts each night while taking care of sick kids. I prayed that no adults got it. My kids bounced back like nothing and I was concerned in bringing my kids to my sister in laws house but she reassured me that her kids already had something and would be fine.

Christmas Day

After making cookie dough at 5 am the day before, making all food when I could separate my kids from the downstairs and re cleaning and sanitizing my home I was able to sit back and enjoy what was the holidays. My hope is always for my kids to have a great day. For them to remember what the season is all about and for them to just have time with family.

We went from this:

To this:

Paper everywhere, kids all over the place, and smiles all around! Even if it looks a total mess that’s what most houses look like on Christmas Day!

My kids got up around 7:30am! For kids that’s late. However I was happy as I went to bed at about 1am from doing laundry, cooking, wrapping and organizing! So parents definitely won!! After our own Christmas and a great Christmas breakfast we hopped on the road to visit with my siblings, parents and family.

My sister in love hosted the celebration this year and she did a great job! We played Cards against Humanity. A lot of fun to play and even more hilarious to play with your parents! That’s all I can say!

My sweet niece!

We also went to my grandparents house to see extended family. I had not been in a few years for Christmas. It was a great visit. I wasn’t expecting the kids to get things but they definitely were blessed!

Niece and cousin

To say that we had a great day is an understatement. We were able with technology see my grandma on my mom’s side instead of just talking to her. The kids were able to show her what they got. We were able to see she was okay and provided for. We saw my other set of grandparents and aunts. The kids had an amazing holiday. I’ll do my holiday recap video today or tomorrow!

I really do hope you all had a great day!!! Our family has a complete day! Luckily they were so tired we all slept in until about 10! That’s a Christmas miracle if ever there was one!!

2019 Christmas Letter

To every last follower or just someone popping into the page to see what’s going on, if you celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas. This is a day of love and gratitude. I don’t take for granted that there are many today that feel a sense of pain. They miss loved ones that are no longer with them. I for one join them in those sentiments when it comes to missing my Mother in Law, Deborah Storr. I also miss my great Aunt Teenie who left this Earth just a few months ago. It’s hard sometimes to channel happiness when you feel like something or someone has been taken before its time. One thing that helps me get through is family. Family is defined by whatever guidelines you set. Sometimes friends can become family or as I like to call them Framily. Sometimes it’s your children. Sometimes it’s a good co-worker that you have become close who has proven to be amazing support system in life. I hope that all who choose to celebrate today realize the reason for the season.

If you were like a kid like me growing up I had good holidays but that wasn’t without struggle. As a parent I realize the hustle of trying to gather a few items for the day and what that entails. I appreciate my parents so much more now for what they were able to pull together. I appreciate also having my own set of children who show me what love and humbleness is daily. They are true gifts from God. I am grateful for them every day. I enjoy watching the holidays from their perspective. Whatever I have done to prepare for this day has been to see them smile. I am grateful they helped me make other kids smile this season. I remember growing up and my parents being in the line for toys. At the time I didn’t fully realize what was happening. I do know that no parent wants to wake up today with nothing under the tree. No matter how humble you are, you want to see children open presents. It’s a joy to see them excited. I pray you didn’t overspend just for the day. There’s a difference in seeing joy in a child’s face and overdoing it. Keep all things within a balance. I plan to make sure each member of my family feels loved. Know that they are loved beyond a price tag and enjoy them.

I pray that you have peace today! I pray you all have a great day. I hope you reach out to a family or friend today outside of a simple text message. Today should be about being around those who love and honor you! Merry Christmas to you from me and mine!!

Christmas Debate: What’s Overspending for the Holidays?

When I was growing up I used to make comments about how much someone spent for the holidays.  If I thought it was too much it was a problem.  If I thought it was too little it was an issue. Since having children of my own I have come to this resolution-spend what you want as long as the days after the holidays your bills are still paid, money is in the bank, and you aren’t borrowing. Even if you are it’s your choice to do so. This whole debacle on who sets the limits on the holidays is getting out of hand. People are spending hours online with strangers arguing on who sets the limits. You do realize the one who sets the limits is the one who makes the coin to contribute. I remember having an event a few years and just merely letting the other party know that at the end of the day I make the rules who plans to spend the coin. It’s simple. 

Spend it all?

Does that mean that I need to spend it all up? No I don’t as a rule of thumb. I budget and only spend what is necessary to get the job done. I know that my kids will get from others so I don’t go trying to overspend. For me we get them 5 gifts a piece and stocking stuffers because when they are home for Christmas break we make sure they do fun activities instead of being on tablets or watching television the whole time. It’s a plan that has worked for us. Sometimes in the earlier years we did a gift here or there more but the 5 work for us.  As they get older the number will go down. Why? As they get older their items will cost more. It’s the way it works. A doll in my house with the way I work coupons etc. I could spend at around 100 for each kid and come out balling on certain items. I might have spent like 40 for a toy that they really wanted and I really had to overthink spending that. I have become more of a saver and the thrill of coming under my goal makes me happy. I spent 400 last year for 7 kids for toys including clothes.  Those are the types of numbers I like to work with. 

Humble kids helps

My kids are humble and child-like. I could wrap up a coloring book and they would be happy. I have yet to see them smirk or give an attitude. I am blessed.  Some kids ask for phones and laptops to where my oldest is still asking for doll and doll houses. She’s 10 by the way. I know she wants a phone because all of her friends have one but to be honest, she doesn’t need it right now. We will and soon pull that trigger as she becomes more involved in out of school and in school activities having communication with her will be vital. Our plan is to take that phone like we do her tablet. She can’t have it during the school week unless at an event, and she can’t have it in her room overnight while she sleeps even on the weekend. This way we control it as much as we can. We have asked her why she wants a phone and her answers having been convincing us that she wants it for the right reasons. We are teaching her to move in her way that makes sense for her not for those around her. So for now she wants to play on Snapchat she can use my phone. She can unlock it with her face since we look alike. She always asks for permission etc. I want to teach her how to use it and monitor social media appropriately. Some might not agree with my hands on approach but I can only do what I feel is best and what I feel will have her in the less amount of danger. When she gets to the point that we are paying the bill and she’s still a kid we will be monitoring that phone like a hawk.

How much is too much?

How much a parent spends on their kids is up to them.  If they spend a thousand or a dollar its up to them.  I do not want to get into a debate about what is considered spoiling because we don’t know what the parents do to earn their living. If you have more to spend, spending 500 for each kid may not seem like a big issue compared to someone who all they have is 500 to spread. And yes I hear some saying I don’t care if I did have 500 to spend on each child I wouldn’t do it-its your choice as well. Choices come with no opinion stamp of approval necessary. Even if you take $500 and you look at what you can spend for a child, it isn’t that much money. An electronic takes up a third of that, a few outfits, some new shoes or sneakers and it’s not that hard to spend. I also do things like coupon during the year, taking the savings and using that towards the holidays. Some people do the same. Others shop all year long not just during the expensive holiday time and so even 10 or more gifts could have been extremely cheap. 

Who footing the bill?

My new mindset is as long as the parents who seem to spend more money on their kids aren’t asking me for loans or their lights etc. aren’t being shut off-more power to you. Life is hard enough than having to get others to agree with a decision that didn’t affect their pocketbook. I stand by those sentiments. We have no idea what people do to make things happen for their children. I am more interested in the parent who has the heart to purchase but can’t.  Those are the ones my heart goes for because I know how much it would hurt me if I couldn’t get my kids anything at all. It’s one thing to blame materialistic parents and another thing not to recognize that for a parent no greater joy during the holidays is seeing children open gifts. Even if those gifts aren’t the most expensive the joy comes in the thought behind the gift giving. So to the parents who are doing their best, keep in mind that there are some less fortunate. Do things for others this season. I was blessed to help two families this season, not for clout or recognition but because I want others to experience the joy of seeing their kids smile on Christmas day. If you agree with gift giving (as some do not) than make your budget what you see fit. Do what works for you without going into debt. Some we know will go into debt. They will forget what the season is all about. They will even in their own right overspend but you know what? It’s their choice to do so. So you won’t see me bash a parent for their choices. The debate stops at my bank account. If I am not financing it I have not right to make an opinion that merits much if I am not the one footing the bill.

2019 Tinsel

We have moved ahead from Halloween back into Christmas At Tinsel Philadelphia. This is my second year visiting this unique space and I got the opportunity to see the new drink specials, and the new improvements.

One of the first things you notice is the new exterior! It’s beautiful. It’s eye catching and I love it!

Completely Instagrammable the new exterior is even more inviting. One of the things that hasn’t changed is it visibility. As soon as I rounded the corner the Christmas lights let me know I was in the right place! Which is key in helping me locate where I needed to be.

As soon as you walk in you get the nostalgia of Christmas. The presents, the hanging elves, nutcracker and the infamous Santa throne! I mean I’m hoping just from first take it pushes me further up the Nice List.

I love the ways the colors of the season pull you in! Of course I wore my favorite sweater and linked up with my girlfriends!

Shout out to Cherryl and Elle

Oh and of course it’s also avoid the drinks!

Holiday Sangria, Deck the Halls, Eggnog, and the Ornament shot

Don’t worry they do have a keepsake drink and it will be available when it opens! They are well known for it and they aren’t gonna disappoint.

Christmas Ale

I like how they kept true to theme as always. There’s not a inch of Tinsel that doesn’t have something on it. I think my second favorite spot to the throne room is this the peppermint walk seen above. It reminds me of my grandfather’s house. He always had candy trays out for Christmas and this way takes me back to those fun moments.

I always love the screen display. This one shows a fireplace and I’m not sure if they will rotate and have different things showing during the season but I always love to look at it while sipping on my drinks.

The greeting card menus are absolutely everything. Have you ever gone to an old school house where they display Christmas cards of the years past? It gave me that feel except they had the drink menu inside. I really loved it.

Here’s a look of Tinsel from across the bar. If you have never been you will immediately be surprised at how much room is inside. We were invited to the media party and there was enough room to host us all. There had to be around 200 participants.

So you know that Tinsel is the a Christmas spot to be in this season. They open officially on Friday at noon but there is a preview this Wednesday from 5pm to 2am! Definitely consider dropping in before you start cooking your Thanksgiving dinner. Or bring your out of town guests this weekend so you can be the talk of the town as you will be considered to be in the know of the hot spot. Don’t miss your opportunity all Christmas season long!!

Don’t forget to be take a picture in Santa’s throne! Especially if you’re like me and you are Santa it will be well deserved adult fun!

Philadelphia Zoo and Chase presents: LumiNature

What do you do when you mix the holidays with one part light show mixed with interactive galore? You have LumiNature. This 12 zone adventure will light up your world allowing you to create the most magical experience you didn’t know you needed…until now!

I try to keep my blog life separate from my family life but last night I mirrored the two and it was the best mix of both worlds. I’m the biggest kid but having my actual kids and niece was the best thing I’ve done all week! So let’s dive into this exhibit. The Philadelphia Zoo has invested a lot of time and effort to make this brand new exhibit into a dream. FYI like I had to explain to my kids this is not the time to visit with animals. This is apart of but semi separate fun. So if you have tickets for the Zoo you will need to get separate tickets!

Without giving you all 12 zones I’m going to give you my top 4 zones and why I loved it!! Tickets to the exhibit is timed and can be purchased online here! Parking prices can be seen there as well.

Wonder of Slumber

This is at the very entrance of the Zoo! It’s airy illuminated flowers are extremely magical. Here is the pic of when it was still some daylight available:

Here is the picture of it in its nightly glory!

It’s visually stunning. Also keep in mind as you guide your way through the zones there are interactive things to touch and play. There are also actors who are dressed and of course in lights to make it a night to not forget. Have your camera or phone ready!!

My kids with the lion doing their best ROAR!

Northern Lights

This is where the big show is. You get to meet Polaris the 35 foot polar bear who brings you into dancing and awe. The shows are timed at about every half an hour. You are going to want to be front row and center!

You can see a snippet of Polaris in action on my Instagram stories or in my highlight at More Philly! This show has some of the classic holiday and dance songs you will love to hear. It was nothing but smiles and awe from start to finish! Trust me you and your guests will absolutely love it!

Flamingo Fancy

This is one dazzling exhibit. It’s pink is so illuminating and I wanted to stay here for some time. Just take a look:

Hand crafted flamingos make up this beautiful tree! Even the walkway to it is stunning!

Peacock Spectacular

You can turn yourself into your own peacock! Peacocks are always known for their beautiful color and last night was no different!

There were a lot of extra things to see along our journey!

Since last night was the grand opening, the Philadelphia Zoo and Chase had a media and friends opening party!

Great food, hot chocolate bar, chocolate wine aka hot chocolate with wine, a regular bar and a great parting gift!

You will not be disappointed! Make LumiNature your new addition to your holiday plans. The light exhibits are out of this world. 2019 has been a great year for the Philadelphia Zoo. From the new additions to the park and upgrade food, LumiNature is your go to for memories and all of the feels!

Christmas Self-Care

It’s Christmas! Time to break out the food and fun! For some the holidays don’t always represent love and harmony. This holiday often is the hardest for many reasons! With that in mind I’m giving you a few tips to survive it!

  • Have an exit plan- family is great until they’re not. Make sure you can leave and have a back up plan for self-care. Don’t stay anywhere that will send you into a tail spin!
  • Take things in strides. As much as you want to do more, eat more, drink more don’t over do it!
  • Have fun. Don’t make everything to be on such a schedule and don’t have a list of demands whether it be in the form of gifts or time that you feel others should spend. Allow those around you to be able to flow
  • Say no. You can’t be to everyone what everyone wants. Do what you can and leave the rest. Others around you will adjust
  • If you’re single around the holidays it’s hard. Acknowledge it but don’t let it overtake your thoughts. I told you about a friend who literally screamed on the phone out of her desire to be with someone. It’s a real overwhelming feeling but you can drive yourself crazy trying to be with someone.
  • Keep perspective. Know your reasons for the holidays and don’t get side tracked!
  • Love on others
  • Do for others
  • Don’t get into arguments or fights over the holidays. Walk away!

Whatever your plans are, have fun. May you have peace. Do what you need to do to ensure your own peace. Life is too short to be around folks that you regret or to not be around those you love due to misunderstandings. Work out what you can and make amends with whom you can. Find peace and pursue it! Don’t stay where you aren’t wanted. Don’t do anything that will make you complain. Do things because you truly want to! What would be the point of going around certain people only I spend hours talking about how bad it was if you knew it would be bad going in. You can be around people and do what’s best for you. This could mean go and leave at a designated time. This could mean not engaging in certain conversations. For those who have amazing family and friends that you have, be grateful! Enjoy it! Smile! Be present and not just bring presents!

Cherish the memories!

Merry Christmas!!!

Monday Motivation: Christmas Edition

As the holidays are exactly 8 days away one of the things that I have changed is not waiting until the last-minute for everything. I have a few things to do but I am not allowing any of it to get under my skin. For that I am grateful. I know the holidays aren’t about giving gifts or receiving gifts as much as it’s about be a blessing to those around me and spending time with my family and which is my personal choice to celebrate the birth of the Savior.

gift present macro bokeh

Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

I am not allowing the hustle and bustle of the season to make me crazy.  I am not going to spend time getting into countless arguments over stuff that I know that I can’t change. I know I can manage my time. I know I can prepare things early enough to be sure that things are the way I want them.  I know that beyond preparing for the actual day of Christmas is about preparing for the kids to be on break. Finding them activities that can be done in and out of the house that won’t break my budget.  These are the things that I am allowing to motivate my week. I don’t want to be sitting around upset or making myself vulnerable to mindless arguments over who should be doing what and when.

Be intentional about your thoughts this week. Your to do list will get done in tine. Do what you can and what can’t be done, don’t max out cards to do it. Don’t stress your life so that you are going more and more into debt and pain in the New Year. Do not do more for folks if it isn’t coming from a good place and a good heart. I have cut out a large amount of spending by focusing on the kids in my life. That doesn’t mean I didn’t get any adults but I definitely didn’t try to get all of the adults I know. Balance is my focus. My motivation is keeping the spirit of fun in my thought process. Playing with my children. Making time to watch movies with them. Making sure that I bake with them. Not worrying about material parts alone. Some people really lose it trying to keep up with the Jones’s.  Don’t let that be you. There are a million things to be celebrated. Families coming together that were torn apart, checking in on the elderly, seeing strangers smile who might have been so down that the holidays seem like a joy kill to them, serving the less fortunate, any and everything can be seen through different lenses. Do not loss that focus as you wrap gifts, prepare food, and set out outfits.

joyeux noel neon signage hanging beside christmas tree

Photo by Colin Schmitt on Pexels.com

This week, choose joy. Choose to see the good in this already evil world. Choose to be grateful for what you have and the little you may think you have may be someone else’s portion. Choose to be happy that you have the ability to make decisions that affect your life. Choose to smile more. Choose to be kind to others around you. Pay it forward. We need to hear more stories of others doing for those around them than taking. Let’s hear it this week for making sure you check in on others. There is a lot of pain that comes in with the  holidays too. As much as I love celebrating, I know that some folks are hurting. Some folks are experiencing high levels of pain, death, grieve, etc. My heart goes out to them. I have been praying for more people who are in these situations more and more as the holiday gets closer. Think of those people around you. Motivate your Monday and week to the things that matter that don’t have anything to do with price tags.

Keep your mind and heart clear. Sending you love as you go into the home stretch of this week!