Christmas Surprises Activity Tree!

December is here and I just barely have a plan of what we are doing. We will start our advent readings today and I’m excited about pulling out our Jesse tree and ornaments to use!

This year Sean designed something new to help us create a memorable Christmas season. It’s going to be such a cute addition and help us create new memories! We have it available for all of you as well in Sean’s Etsy store!

Christmas Surprises Activity Tree

We have let the Christmas season fly by without slowing down and actually doing traditions and memories with our children. This Christmas Surprises Activity Tree helps the children count down to Christmas, and also helps you as a mom come up with special things to do with your children.

Don’t be alarmed, these are not all huge activities that take you away from home. But they help you be more proactive in celebrating this very special month as a family.

So how does it work? Using this activity is super simple!

Print the tree and the 25 custom illustrated ornaments out, cut out the ornaments and place them in a bowl, and you’re ready to go!

Every day, allow a child to draw an ornament out of the bowl and place it on the tree. Next, look at the Christmas activities sheet (included) to discover the activity which corresponds to the ornament they selected! They might have chosen the “Make hot cocoa” ornament, the “Sing Christmas carols” ornament, or the “Go on a winter nature walk” ornament. There are 25 different Christmas related activities in all!

Print off the Christmas Tree and tape the back of it together!

Cut out your ornaments. Sean made these ornaments and I think they are so adorable! You can laminate them if you want (I’m going to do that). Put them in a bowl and your child draws one out randomly each day. With our large family we have each child take a turn drawing an ornament.

Each ornament represents an activity that you can do! When they draw an ornament come look at what it says to do. Moms – don’t feel like you have to do every single thing on this list! Some days we will just put up an ornament and other days we will follow through on the idea list.

Here is a tip. Plan ahead for some of these things. Grab a gingerbread kit from the store and keep it tucked away. Make sure you have plenty of white paper and scissors for cutting out paper snowflakes. Keep your favorite Christmas movie saved backed for the day you draw that ornament. Just look through the list and mentally plan on which ones you want to do.

I think it’s going to be a super fun December!!!

You can get the printable Christmas Tree Activity here! 






A Shabby Chic Baby Shower!

My sister and brother in law (who is my double brother in law, my older sister married my husband’s younger brother!) recently were incredibly blessed to adopt a newborn little girl. They have not been able to have biological children, so they now have 3 beautiful children that are in their family through adoption. They adopted twins as toddlers, but also really wanted to experience life with a baby from the beginning.

They had to wait a long time, pray, and almost give up hope before my sister received the call that they were matched with a birth mom the day before her 40th birthday! Talk about an amazing birthday gift.

I knew that I wanted to put on a baby shower, and not just any old baby shower. It had to be absolutely perfect for this day.

My sister loves roses, and so I went with a Shabby Chic Floral theme for the shower.

Baby shower for my sister and her new little girl. We did a shabby chic floral theme!

My sister (wearing the floral maxi dress from Deborah & Co.) and her new little daughter! I put pink tulle up behind her and then hung white lights up between the tulle. They had some amazing newborn pictures taken that were available right before the shower, so I framed one of the pictures and hung it at the top.

The baby quilt behind the rocking chair was my mom’s baby quilt (who passed away seven years ago, we miss her so much). I tried to put little touches of my mom out as much as I could. I used her candlesticks on the mantel, I put a picture of her out in the kitchen, and my sister and I both thought about her a lot that day. It was so hard. She would have been crying tears of joy that day to see my sister finally holding a baby in her arms!

Floral Tepee for a shabby chic baby shower.

I had this crazy idea that I could pull off every project I had in mind, but I finally admitted defeat and called my mother in law! She is really crafty, and when I told her I wanted to make a lace tepee to put all the gifts in (and then later use it as a reading nook for my girls in their room) she jumped right in and said she would make it! Sean cut out the poles for her, and she painted them, drilled holes and connected the tepee together with white rope, and then draped the lace around the poles. Some pretty flowers went on top! I love how it turned out!

Baby Shower Tables set up for girls to eat.

We had 50 people come to the shower, and almost half of that number was girls. I didn’t want them eating in the living room with carpet, so I set up these tables in our dining rooms that has wood floors and they ate there. It was perfect!

You can clearly see we are not done with our dining room! That back wall is going to have white shiplap on it, and my grand piano will go in here, along with a table that Sean is going to build for us. It’s going to be amazing one day, once we get all these projects done and trim up.

This was the dessert table, and it was fun to decorate. I used my letter board to write a message out about Anna, and then put pictures on the table from the photo shoot they had. I taped white paper lanterns to the ceiling, and found a picture at Hobby Lobby that said “Such a Big Miracle in Such a Little Girl” and put my first nail in my newly painted walls to hang it up. Ha! It was a big deal to all of us. We worked so hard to get all the wallpaper down!

Dessert time!

I made brownies but put them in little mini muffin pans for a brownie bite. And isn’t my niece adorable?!!!

Mini cheesecake bites and cream puffs, plus we had a chocolate cake.

For food I had:

Croussant rolls with chicken salad or deli meat and cheese.

Mini Quiches

Cheese and Crackers

Veggie Tray

Build your own Yogurt Parfait (greek yogurt, berry blend and granola to top), they put in small pink containers.

And then we had Passion Tea and water.

I have a drawer that needs fixed. I’m married to a cabinet maker…but you know how that goes. It’s on the list of things to do. 🙂

I passed out these baby favors when people left. I found the little boxes on Amazon and filled them with yummy chocolate from Costco.

I put together this activity for the younger girls to do while the moms were writing advice down for Jennifer that we put in a beautiful rose theme scrapbook. They used the Sharpie markers to write fun things on the diapers. Honestly though….I’m not sure if she will be able to use the diapers. A mom said she had marked the size on a package of diapers with a sharpie marker and it bled through to the clothes. :/

This isn’t the best picture but I had to cut out some ladies sitting below the mantle because I didn’t have permission to post their pictures on the blog. 🙂 We whitewashed our mantle, and I love how it turned out! I framed a large picture of Jennifer and Anna, and then had pink candlesticks on the mantle along with these white rose lights I found at Target.

I had so much fun putting this all together for my sister and I’m thankful for all of our friends who came and blessed her with a lot of nice gifts for her new daughter!

If you want to read more about their adoption journey, you can read these two posts. 

An Adoption Story Written By God!

Adoption Fundraiser post that has their infertility story. 




Preparing For Thanksgiving When You Feel Overwhelmed




I feel like so many moms are battling these feelings, myself included. It can be over the simplest things, or it can be intense, put-you-on-your knees type battles.

The struggle to be a good housekeeper, to not yell at our children, to get all the homeschooling accomplished each day, meals on the table, somehow grab some time with our husband, struggle through pregnancies and sleepless nights are very real. And somehow we are supposed to spend a whole month being thankful?

Actually, we are told to be thankful always. Not just in November.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

It’s one thing to read that. It’s a totally different thing to live that scripture verse out.

Just as I was writing this post my 2 year old took a gel pen and scribbled all over my freshly washed Ikea chair. Did I mention that I had just taken all the slipcovers off yesterday and washed it? I stopped writing my post and quickly went and sprayed the stain and got it in the washer machine.

I could chose to be upset, or be thankful that I caught it right away and that I was able to treat the stain. I could dwell in the feelings of “it’s so hard to keep anything nice with little children around” or be thankful that it was a used chair I found off Craigslist, and that it’s so easy to wash.

Choosing thankfulness is as simple as that.

Daily choices over and over again in the mundane life.

Choosing joy instead of sadness. Deciding to be thankful for the things you do have, instead of pouring over Pinterest or the latest catalogs and wishing you had all the nice furniture or clothes that you see there.

Sometimes it’s simply choosing to be thankful for where you are at in life. Right now I’m thankful to be a stay at home mom. I’m thankful I get to homeschool, even though the days can be terribly difficult. I’m thankful for our new house, even though we finally just got the hardwood floors finished for the second time and I can now start to unpack.

I’ve had Novembers where I had to just take a break from everything Pilgrim and festive. But let’s be honest. You can only do that so long. Your children need to have the flow and ebb of seasons coming and changing, holidays to observe and life to live. You might be in the middle of crisis, but there are simple things you can do to observe the Thanksgiving season!

Try picking a few things off this list to do.

Put up a Thanksgiving Gratitude Tree!

Use our printable Gratitude Tree and start this on November 1st. Every day you write on a leaf something you are thankful for and put it up on the tree. By the end of the month you have a full tree and a thankful heart!

Gratitude Tree Printable for the month of November and Thanksgiving!

You can get our Gratitude Tree for just $2.99 here. Get instant access and print it out, for a super easy Thanksgiving tradition with your children.

Make some fall goodies with your children! 

This caramel apple dip is a healthier choice and super easy to make. Pumpkin muffins are always a hit, as well as these Pumpkin bars with cream cheese that are a favorite in our family!

Go for a walk

Take your children outside and collect pretty fall leaves, pinecones, acorns, and let them have fun doing crayon sketches of the leaves and decorating with the pinecones!

Decorate Pumpkins! 

We don’t do Halloween, but my children went to a pumpkin patch this year and had fun decorating their pumpkins.

Do a Thanksgiving Curriculum

Take a break from your normal curriculum and go through this free History of Thanksgiving curriculum that I put together a few years ago.

Do a Daily Choose Thankfulness Page!

Grab this free printable designed for wives and mothers. Fill it out daily or weekly. Stop and reflect on what you have to be thankful for! Enter your email address below to get the free printable!



Creating A Family Closet In The Laundry Room

I’ve always dreamed of having a family closet!  I should clarify though, we don’t have a true family closet. It’s actually a girl’s closet. With four girls in our family it has been a dream come true to set up a main closet area to store all those girls clothes in.

I’ll set you up the scene that led me to dream this up. We previously had four girls in one very small bedroom. I can’t tell you how many mom meltdowns I had because girl clothes were strewn over the bedroom floor. I tried training the girls to put their clothes in their drawers, and to use the hamper every single night but it was a battle that we never seemed to conquer. Our oldest daughter loves a clean and tidy room and it was a frustration to her that the room couldn’t seem to stay clean.

Once we moved I immediately spotted the potential for a family closet in our laundry room. I shared yesterday the before and after pictures of our laundry room makeover, but I didn’t include pictures of the tall cabinet we have in that room.

Setting up a family closet in the laundry room.

As soon as I saw these cabinets I knew I would keep the girl’s clothes here!

Family closet in laundry room


Each girl has their own laundry basket. I wrote their name on mini chalkboards and put velcro strips on the back of them to attach them to the baskets. Here is a total mom confession, at this point we are not even folding the clothes. We just throw them in each basket out of the dryer, but we do hang up the church dresses!

Chalkboard sign from laundry room.

The girls do have more clothes than this, but we have a lot of clothes still packed up from moving. 🙂

Family Closet set up in the laundry room.

The bottom two baskets are for dirty clothes.

So how exactly does this work? 

The girls come in the laundry room each morning and just get dressed right there. We have a pocket door on our laundry room and they just close that when they get dressed. The dirty clothes go in those bottom laundry baskets, and then it leaves zero clothes mess in their bedrooms! In the evening they go to the laundry room and get their pajamas on, and once again the dirty clothes go right into those dirty clothes baskets.


I can’t even begin to tell you what a relief this has been for me!

Another huge plus is that the clothes get washed a lot faster, which helps stains on clothes. Every mom knows the frustration of pulling clothes out of a hamper where stains have set on them for days on end! This really helps avoid that.

While getting clothes washed faster is important for helping stains, so is using good laundry detergent that works well! Right now at Sam’s Club they just cut prices on Tide original detergent (the 225f oz. size) by $4 through September 25th! You can get a huge container for just $19.98, which works out to only 14 cents per load!

Tide Detergent at Sam's Club.

My mother in law uses Tide detergent and she frequently washes all the children’s clothes for me when they spend the night at her house. Yes, I’m blessed. Maybe a little spoiled by how great she is. My girls always love how their clothes smell, but it amuses me how much Sean loves the smell of Tide detergent!

Tide Detergent at Sam's Club.

Through September 17, shoppers can also save $2 off the purchase of any Downy Unstopables, Downy Fresh Protect or Gain Fireworks In-Wash Scent Booster. These products provide odor protection and a fresh boost of your favorite laundry scent around-the-clock.

Both deals are available in-club and online at, and no coupons are needed!

I’d love to know if you have a family closet! Do you have any tips for keeping your children’s room clean without clothes on the floor? I know other moms would love to hear! 


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Tide at Sam’s Club. The opinions and text are all mine.