Currently… Fall Edition

Thinking… about ways that I can serve and bless the people in my life that could really use some extra love and support this holiday season. This has been on my mind for a few weeks now. I can’t help but wishing myself extra rich so that I could send financial support to people I know and love. I know money doesn’t fix everything but cancer, life, babies, illness, and job loss are expensive things. A generous gift of money certainly would relieve some stress, buy some fun seasonal extras, that of course can be done without, but having makes the holidays special, or could pay for bills and fuel.

Feeling… like I want to ask you a favor. This has to do with what I’m currently thinking. As you may or may not know I’m the praying type. I spend a lot of time talking to the Lord about life. While I’ve never had dreams, visions, or angelic visitations, I do know that He hears me. He really hears me. The morning after I poured my heart out to him about how can I significantly help a few people in my life, I got an email about a silly little contest. It’s a photo card contest and the winner gets $1500, a camera, and some holiday cards. When I read the email I knew it could be an answer to my hearts desire to help. So here’s the call to action. Will you please vote for my pictures? You can do that HERE (no need to sign up or anything, just click on it! And you can vote every day until December 3rd.). If I win I’m going to split the money into two $500 gift cards and five $100 gift cards and give it all away (and I already have a good idea on who I’ll give those seven gifts to!). The camera will go to someone I know who has been saving for one and would really use it, and I might just keep the holiday cards :). I feel like my odds are awesome if you are willing to help. I’m shocked at how few entries there are! So if you have the time I would appreciate the help and with little to no real effort on our parts we just might be able to really bless a few families this year.

WatchingThe Lunchbox. This film was a recommendation from a friend and we loved it! It’s such a cute foreign film and I highly recommend it for your next date night. I think we rented it on Google Play for $3.99 which makes for a cheap date when you watch it in bed while munching on homemade cookies.

ReadingCarry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life. I know that I talk about it a lot but I just love it. It’s a collection of essays about life, hard things, and mothering. She cusses a bit and I don’t agree with her views on everything but the main points hit me to the core. I’m so excited about it that I bought a dozen copies to give as Christmas gifts this year. If you are a loyal enough blog reader that you are reading these words right now (hi!) then I’m going to give away 2 copies to anyone who comments on this post. No rafflecopter, no shout-outs that it’s a giveaway, it’s just for a few people who are kind enough to read what I write when no recipe is involved. Thank you for being here. (Update: I’m sending books to Amy-Alisa, Christina, Danielle, and Kim, but don’t worry I’ll do this again!)

Excited… to go to Kentucky and Indiana for Thanksgiving!!! It’s been years and years since we spent Thanksgiving with my family, none of my kids even have memories of it. We are going to make the long 29 hour road trip next weekend and I tear up if I think about it too much. Going home is always so good, even if it’s not an easy thing to get there.

Missing… my baby. He turned one a few weekends ago and is now trying to walk. When did he turn into a toddler? He says “hi”, “Da”, and signs “all done”. He’s probably the cutest child ever.

Working… all the time. 80 hour work weeks for Thomas and just that many hours for me (I’m a mom, that means I work pretty much all the time), but I’d be fibbing if I said I didn’t like my current job the best of any I’ve had. I get to read as much children’s literature as I want, my sous chefs only ask for food as pay, and at this particular time in life, I’m not on night shift any more *knock on wood*. It’s not everyone’s ideal but I’m loving it.

Stressed… CHRISTMAS GIFTS!!! Yes, I just yelled at you. Here’s my deal, I want to give my kids 4 gifts each and I want to give my kids a million gifts each. I heard a little poem once (not sure where) that said what kids needed for Christmas: something to wear, something to read, something you want and something you need. LOVE that. But at the same time I want to give my kids lots of things, they are my kids! I love them and want to shower them with gifts. Here’s where I’m all stressed out… four gifts is not enough in today’s world. I don’t want to be totally worldly but my oldest attends public school. She struggles a bit with anxiety, especially when it comes to how other people perceive her. I’m afraid that she’s going to come home after Christmas break in tears because she heard about the million things everyone else got. She is a golden child; kindness and a real awareness of others are natural for her. But the comparison game is part of who we are, like it or not. I want my child to have a magical Christmas and I feel a pressure that, in part, translates magic into an abundance of gifts. I’m a practical person but this number of toys thing even gets me comparing. A few years ago when I had 3 small kids, the oldest being 5, we had a very normal Christmas. My kids all got the 4 things and I was so happy with myself. It felt like a huge Christmas compared to other years when we were in collage. I had everything under the tree and the Santa gifts laid out on our ottoman. I was enjoying the spirit of Christmas until I got on Instagram and saw all of the other displays of Santa toys mom’s were posting. I was SHOCKED. My kid was getting a little shopping cart and someone his same age was getting that plus a whole kitchen, food, dolls, aprons, stuffed toys, doll houses and more. The more I looked though the more I realized that that was normal. Then the worry set in. What if I’m not doing enough or giving them enough. I can, I could, maybe I should. Where’s the line between practical (do kids really need more toys?) and magical (it is Christmas after all!). Talk me through this. I want to hear your opinions on the matter. This was easier when my kids were smaller; as they age and become more aware of things and people around them, as well as themselves, the water starts to feel murky and the territory uncharted. I’m not going into debt for gifts. We never have and never will. But I can afford a couple of Lego sets per kid, a wooden train set I’ve been eyeing, an American girl pet puppy, craft stuff, books (oh the books I want to buy), as well as Christmas jammies, a new family game… No, I’m not filling up a room with toys, but when you have a bunch of kids it ends up a lot of stuff fast. Any thoughts for me?

Proud… to be an American. There was a Veteran’s Day program at May’s school which we all went to. There was a man there who told a story about a POW exchanged that he witnessed on a bridge between American and Japanese soldiers. The story was strong and well told and there was literally not a dry eye in the room. We live a pretty comfortable existence and have so little experience with war. I’m so grateful for generations past who helped to forge my current happy reality.

Wanting… you to know about this wonderful company called Dignify. Ashley at Under the Sycamore mentioned Dignify in this blog post (beautiful pictures too) and I was totally smitten. Here’s what Dignify does and sells.

We sell premium quality, ethically made, fair trade kantha quilts. Call them whatever you want – kantha blankets, sari throws, “Indian blankets”, vintage sari kantha – all you need to know is: They are hand-stitched in Bangladesh from six layers of reclaimed sari cloth. The women who make them were previously living on the street, or working in sex work (often these go hand in hand), or in a vulnerable situation at risk of such.

I bought this blanket for my Christmas gift to me from Thomas. I’m so excited to be investing a little money into things that matter. A company like this is one I can really get excited about, and my, isn’t that gorgeous! I can’t wait until it gets here and I can enjoy it after Christmas. I’ve already been thinking of whoever sewed it. What is her name? What is her story? One day I’ll know those details and thank her for sharing her gifts with me.

Wishing… I could reach out of the screen and squeeze you and then hand you a dozen eggs, a jar of homemade cider, a loaf of bread, and ask you how your day went. You read my blog. You read the words that I have to say and you read recipes that I make just for you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I wish you were closer so that I could be a better friend to you.

Eating… Junk, junk, and more junk. Hello donuts, holiday candy (curse you Cadbury eggs that are no longer just sold at Easter), pie, and eggnog saltwater taffy (it’s so good). I haven’t had a green smoothie in weeks. We eat pretty healthy meals but snacking and desserting are getting the best of me. Tis’ the season!

Drinking… wassail! Love the stuff nice and hot in the morning with a fried eggs or two. Mmmm. Recipe coming soon!

Loving… all things plaid. I have some Christmas plaid burlap in the fabric section at our store and it’s glorious. I just can’t figure out what to use it for.

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Stephanie M.
Stephanie M.

I think your son was the cutest photo to choose from on the site! Wish I could give camera to my daughter, she loves photography. We combine with her Art and World History lessons by visiting Museums and Art Shows. I homeschool her with the help of a Cyber Charter. My cell phone only does so much for the classics.
Have a great Thanksgiving filled with happiest of memories and be safe with any travels! Love your blog, can’t wait to explore further into the site.

Becky

I love plaid too 🙂 And I’m going to get on and vote for your picture right now! I know your prayers are heard too.
About Christmas gifts, I think you do it just right. I think the ‘magic’ of Christmas is the spirit that we bring into our home, and our traditions. Goodness, girl, I know you be cookin’ in the kitchen with your babies! So I KNOW there is magic there. That’s what they are going to remember, their smiling momma.
Each year I plan on making Christmas really simple, but then I start dreaming of all of the gifts that I know my kids would like to open! It is SO hard. I start adding more and more. This year I’m hoping to keep it to two or three. Is that lame? They don’t need books, we have WAY too many of those because I am a book hoarder. I may buy them some clothes. I have one toy in mind for each of them and then I hope to have santa just bring an add on to their wood train set. That makes Christmas morning sound really boring. But I walk into the toy closet and see the doll house from last year that has never been played with, the dinosaurs that are never touched, and all of the other plastic in there and I just want to burn it all. Why would I bring in more? I keep having to tell myself that. Because I’m determined to not buy a ton again! Ahhhhh… we need to talk.

Jen
Jen

I just found your blog and LOVE it! Nice to find someone so down to earth in such a materialized world. I say give your children what you can afford. My 2 and 5 year old enjoy opening gifts more then anything. A few “big” gifts along with Santas gifts and the rest small treasures just to open. Books, crayons and coloring books. Always reminding them of why we give gifts and Jesus’s birthday. Forget those other folks who forget what Christmas is about or worse, don’t believe. Your kids have you and your loving family which is the best gift of all. I love your recipes too!

Susanne
Susanne

I always enjoy your “Currently” posts!

Dani
Dani

I’d love to win a book! I have 4 & 5 year old boys and we are still trying to figure Christmas out. We tell them that Jesus only got 3 presents and if 3 presents were good enough for Jesus, then it’s certainly enough for them! Kids tend to get a case of the “gimmes” around Christmas due to an overload of toy commercials with junk they “need”. We like to kick the season off by trying to give perspective that they are already so fortunate and need to give to other kids who aren’t, so we do Operation Christmas Child and we love it! I also wanted to mention that I love your blog 🙂 Idon’t knkwmany ChristianMoms in my area, so your blog is fantastic!

Christina

Oh the Christmas debate- always an issue! Our children receive pj’s on Christmas eve and we eat dinner that night on the livingroom floor each year. They love having an indoor picnic. Then they get a stocking from Santa and that is it from that guy. We then give 3 gifts to each child. I feel bad at times that we can not give them more especially because aside from us they only receive small gifts from my mom and sometimes one of my sisters. No big family spoiling them here! It’s getting harder as they get older (my oldest is about to turn 7) but I’m hoping that the family time and the events we do together leading up to it will fill them with the true spirit of the season.

This year we decided to focus our gifts on activities or physical things instead of just toys. For their birthdays our children have received a scooter, a rebounder and a snowboard. For Christmas our entire family is receiving ice skates- something we can do together for free in the months to come. We asked for a provincial parks pass from my mother so we can spend time outside the entire year.

I have no doubt you will figure out what is best for your children and your family- good luck!

Rebecca
Rebecca

I know you’ll figure out what’s best for your family. In my house insane up the difference with used presents. Hand me downs and DI!

Tara Barros

I’d love one of those books 🙂 Like you I am also starting to struggle with giving too much/too little to my children for birthdays and holidays. It’s a hard balance!

Emily

Oh, how I hear you on the Christmas thing… I also struggle with making sure it’s “fair” between Milo and Sophie. The truth of the matter is that Milo is very content with what he has, and doesn’t need much. Sophie needs lots of things developmentally and there are plenty of things she’ll be so excited to open. So… how do I sort it out and make it fair? How do I get a reasonable number of gifts?

I grew up in a family with just enough money to stay comfortable. My parents didn’t buy us gifts or extras throughout the year–even birthdays were very modest. But for Christmas, my parents pulled out all the stops. Not a trace of a gift was under the tree up until Christmas morning. They’d barricade the hallway so we couldn’t peek, but when we were finally let through the hall into the living room, we saw stuffed stockings, gifts under the tree, and platefuls of candy and treats on the kitchen counters. It was the one all-out event of the year.

As an adult, I struggle with the desire to facilitate gratitude and contentment. I also want to let Christmas be special. All that to say, there is no one right way to celebrate. If you stick to the 4 gifts rule and school friends get chatty and her feelings are hurt, you can certainly talk it through with her. I know you are the kind of person and mama who can make it right and nurture her little heart through it. If you decide to pull out all the stops, there is no need to apologize for it either. Christmas magic is magical no matter what way it’s done. I think you get to establish the traditions that you like and that are important to you–whether that’s to big or keep it small.

AND YAAAAAAAAY!!!! YOU GET TO GO HOOOOOME FOR THANKSGIVING!!!! I’m doing imaginary cartwheels and silent cheers for you!!!

Danielle
Danielle

I think Christmas is so overdone in a lot of ways. It’s such a beautiful holiday, and so much of the (fun!) stuff just gets in the way! If your husband is on board, give as few gifts as you want to. It’s ok for your family to do things differently than others! I think it’s actually really healthy for kids to learn that early. Hopefully it will help them so they won’t grapple with it as much later in life! You are on the right track. It would be so easy to over give because kids are so easy to please, but you are doing them a favor to limit. Just my two cents.

Sarah

I try really hard not to overdo Christmas (because it’s SO easy to… ). I hadn’t heard the poem before a few years ago, but that’s exactly what we try to do… plus candy. I figure I can always wrap them up so there’s lots to open, if that’s what that kid needs because that is magic to them (so this year P is getting drawing pencils and sketching paper… I’ll wrap them separately, but I don’t wrap each pencil). I also really go nuts with the stockings, but I figure that’s just treats and once a year, it’s not like a million toys. I struggled as a kid with not having as much as my friends did… but they were getting video games and TVs… my parents were never going to buy that for me, and it was something I had to learn eventually. I’m hoping it’s easier for my kids, because it was, honestly, difficult. One thing I’m trying to do is think about EACH kid as an individual… not just getting stuff because it was cheap. I’m hoping my kids will feel my love that way.

Michelle
Michelle

We try every year to help someone in need, because even though we are in grad school and living on loans, we have enough food (simple, but enough), a warm house, clothes, blankets, shoes that fit and lots of family and friends that love us. Some people don’t have those things and it’s a good reminder to be grateful!

As for gifts, I always feel the same way! Between great-grands, grands, cousins, aunts and uncles, each of my girls gets 4-7 presents without getting any from us! One year I decided to get 3 gifts per girl and the girls were so ungrateful. They didn’t take the time to enjoy each gift and Christmas morning wasn’t very much fun with them complaining about their gifts. Since then, Matt and I don’t give them anything under the tree. They know that we stuff the stockings, and that’s is where I give little things. Each girl always gets a book or two in their stocking, a toothbrush and toothpaste (tradition!), a little candy, something like a cute headband or some cute clips, and some kid lip gloss. Because we don’t give them any gifts under the tree, Santa brings one really nice present. This year he is bringing E a set of roller skates, N a Sofia dress from the Disney store, C a new Frozen backpack and L a nice animal book. My girls don’t even notice that we didn’t give them a gift because they already have so many!

What is more important to me about Christmas is enjoying the season with traditions. Reading books by the lights on the Christmas tree. We do get a new Christmas book for the family each year. Making little Christmas treat bags to give to teachers and friends. Changing our two countdown calendars, and playing with our nativity set. I spend a lot more time making memories with them than I do shopping for them. We have never spent more than $50 on each girl (we have never had the money), but during Christmas we spend a lot of more time with them. And you know what is funny? The girls care less bout the gifts and are so much MORE excited about doing all our traditions.

Don’t know if that helps assuage your guilt, but coming from another family of of four where money is always tight, I can honestly say that we get so much more joy from doing things together as a family.

Rivka

Darling girl, don’t fret! I don’t have a good answer for you and you’re a few years ahead of me in the kid department. Mine are still fairly oblivious to what goes on at other peoples’ houses at Christmas (and birthdays… and Easter… and Halloween…:), but I know we try very hard to create magic in lots of other ways besides gifts. I’m afraid I’m not all that concerned about the comparison game and that’s just something my kids will have to live with as long as we share a roof! We plan to be “different” in lots of ways that we are prayerfully figuring out, and I’ve just had to face it and let the worry go! You’ll figure it out. And when you do, drop a sister a line:)

Bless This Mess - About Me

I’m Melissa, and I want to help you feed your family wholesome food.

As a hobby farmer and mom of five, I’m all about keeping it simple in the kitchen. I want healthy meals that feed my family well, and then I want to get back to my (messy) life. Let’s work together to find something yummy for your dinner table.