December Days

I am going to try to catch up here after a little break.

Patrick turned eight. EIGHT! It seems so old. It's not easy to coordinate a birthday party and gifts so close to Christmas and every year I vow to be better at not being stressed about it all but I took a few notes this year to remind me next year. We had a small family party for him and it was so fun and relaxing. I made all the easy favorites and lots of good (easy!) desserts.

(Oreo Pie-recipe on back of Oreo pie crust)

The two older kids made it back from college safe and sound and with so much laundry.  Both worked (on their own initiative! yay!) through break. I do have to say that the first week home is always an adjustment for everyone.  The college schedule is quite different from our family schedule (as in-go to bed at a normal hour and wake up at a normal hour and eating meals at normal times) and always causes some angst (is angst the right word? maybe annoyance?) as we press the "reset" button on what "normal" is.  This is what coming home is for though right? Because no one should live the college life 24/7/365.  I think I am getting the hang of this though-this need for readjustment, the patience it requires, when to set my foot down and when to ease up. It is nice to have them home-they appreciate my cooking (which isn't fabulous at all) so much, and add a fun energy to the home. I love their friends, I love the extra help with the little ones, I love the good conversation.

On the same subject, I was laughing with a friend the other day who has many children older than mine at the fact that it seems as soon as you figure out this parenting thing across the board for all ages (even adult children) you are "done". There is no education but doing it as you go on, and learning while you are in the thick of it.

We took the three younger kids to a work party at the zoo-saw the lights and had a nice dinner with a Santa visit. Janey won't sit on his lap but stays just far away enough to reach for her gift.

Here she is dashing away.

On Christmas Eve after church and dinner the kids exchanged gifts and it was so cute to watch them receive and give.  Janey bought everyone a pack of gum since it's just about her favorite thing in the world. 

At some point in the break Jeff took the kids to see the Star Wars movie and all those light sabers came out again.

Christmas Eve.  

Diving in.

Later that day. And then all week till I couldn't take it anymore. It was a record year for the tree being up though, I lasted about a week after-and next year I am going to try a new place my neighbor told me about with fresh trees and a new stand that will allow me to keep it up till the Epiphany.  I swear our tree was cut in October! 

Her two favorite gifts. So easy and simple!

All in all it was a good Christmas. On Christmas Eve late at night I felt so sad about the kids growing older. I know I can't complain-I've had 22 years of having a child little enough to be really excited (a "believer" is a way to put it?) but I count the years down now and I shouldn't.  But it's an adjustment as the years go by-as busy and hectic and draining the little years are, they are gold too. I know I lived them and appreciated them and gave them my all (even with fuzzy headed lack of sleep with babies in arms) and I'm still doing that but memories blur and fade and change. I'm not good with change maybe. 

I also wanted to scale back this year and that was hard for me-I worried about it. I thought there would be disappointments with the older kids and there wasn't-or if there was I had settled in my mind it was something they just had to work through and that I needed to be peaceful about. But then I was so proud of them all. They were so grateful and I realized that much of my worry exists in my mind only. 

On to New Year's Resolutions, my favorite of all.

I am doing Whole 30-my friend Jane did it and lost a lot of weight and felt so much better physically and after a month (a year?) of eating not so healthfully, I am very motivated.  After 3 days I can see a change in my skin already. Bags of Dove chocolates (and Lindor and Symphony and whatever else I get my hands on) aren't the best for me go figure. I really indulged these last few months-I made and ate every treat I ever wanted knowing that January was around the corner. I have our wedding picture on my screen saver and taped to my fridge and I swear I'm going to get back down there finally, as close as my body will let me in a healthy way.  It feels like the time is right-Janey is three, and I have a little more time on my hands when it comes to exercising and getting in that right mindset. 

My mom gave me the book The Life Changing Habit of Tidying Up. I have heard of this often and it didn't appeal to me too much because I don't have many issues with purging my house of clutter and keeping things relatively organized, but I loved reading it-it is quick and very motivating when it comes to reducing clutter.  A few days after Christmas I had our closet looking wonderful and made Jeff ask himself "Does this bring me joy?" while he went through 50 t-shirts. Sometimes I had to tell him it just couldn't, there was no way possible, he must be mistaken, there was no joy there. :)  I was ruthless on my side of the closet of course. On to the rest of the house-lots of indoor winter time to accomplish that task.


  1. I am a longtime reader and huge fan of your blog. I also have 6 kids, ages 2-12. This post really speaks to me. Like you, I love to have a clean and clutter free home and always find renewed commitment to this when I read posts like this from you. I also struggle with being sad over the lost years. It's so hard for me that my oldest is 12 and it's hard to look back without getting depressed! Even worse, I look ahead to how it's going to be summer and then middle school and oh my, she's going to college!!! haha I really need to focus on today and enjoy everyone at this moment.

  2. It killed me to take our tree down before Ephiphany. Catholic guilt? Ours was so dry it was a color of gray. I am kind of mad at myself because at the beginning of the season I was watering with hot water. The tree was drinking gallons and gallons a day. It was awesome. It was so fresh and in great shape. Then I stopped and just started doing cold. It stopped drinking at that point and that was the end of that. So the trick of warm water from the get go....is the best! Try it. You will see a difference.

    It makes me sad to see the kids growing up. I agree, just when you get the hang of a stage, age, it's over. Such is life I guess. I just feel blessed more than ever right now.

  3. I love your stories of family. I was the oldest of 7 and now look back on all those memories with great fondness, even the occasional anghst!

  4. love it!! We scaled down on the number of gifts too..now, some were just one or two pricier things, but it was all the older 2 wanted so I was good with it! The days of them having lots of tiny packages to open are probably over...unless we fill each box with a $10/$20 bill! LOL!! Love Janey's doll and trike...I took my tree down Sat..couldn't stand it anymore...needed to have the room back to normal..love the post!! You are a bright spot in my email...keep 'em coming!!

  5. Oh my gosh - I LOVED reading your recent posts after a l.o.n.g. "blog reading break", but after reading about your tidying up idea, the thought occurred to me that I only need to clean up my blog bookmarks! You, my friend, are one of the chosen few left on the list :-) I, also, have a gaggle of kiddos - four - (18,14, 11, 6) and are in the trenches of college applications, FAFSA, SAT's, teenage girl drama, middle school/middle BOY angst, etc, etc,.. so I can sympathize with you having teenagers in the house, although mine haven't actually left the nest yet. To be honest, I'm not so sure I'm ready to let him go and would appreciate any insight you might have regarding this whole process since you're both a seasoned as well as new college mom. I truly enjoy your blog am grateful to find that there are other moms out there that think like me..... At least I can show my husband your blog and say, "See!!! - I'm not the only one that doesn't have her kids' schedule packed chock full every waking hour, not the only one that LOVES old, worn, Golden Books for her kiddos, not the only one that worries that her children are going to be disappointed that they don't have keys to a new car hanging from the tree on Christmas Morning because she wants her children to appreciate the season for what it was intended to be....(or has to pay the mortgage that month!) Thanks so much Sarah, you're the best! Happy New Year and much health and happiness to you and yours....

  6. I do so love reading your blog-all the advice, the sharing about raising kids, and I always like the books you like! With the kids growing up, well, I get sad too. I have three and it seems the time with them goes by faster the more they grow! Our youngest in now 11, is pure joy to be around and I am so cherishing these days with him. Thank you always for your words of wisdom!

  7. I can't believe Patrick is 8 either! I love to see Janey riding her doll around the house! I miss those days and am thankful when I can be around our neighbor's sweet, little boys and experience the joy of little ones. It is hard to believe you would need to purge anything in your house! I read the book and Maggie just bought it (digital version). I didn't go through my entire house but started with clothes. It felt good to keep only what brings me joy. I struggle a little with the folding method. I don't think my drawers are the right size. Mike needs to do his clothes, yet. Why is it so hard for guys to let go of T Shirts? We have hand-me-downs that our neighbor got at a thrift shop still in our drawers! I do feel like all the extra stuff and clutter in our lives has an energy that weighs us down. Like the stuff under my bed....why is my mother-in-law's wedding dress there? Best of luck on your Whole30 journey. I have been reading lots of helpful articles and will forward them to you. It is hard to think of ourselves when we are focused so much on our kids. After being mostly sugar free for so many months, I had too many treats this holiday season. Thankfully, I don't seem to be going into a sugar flu this time.

  8. I want to know what everything is on your birthday dinner table. It all looks so good. Is that one thing Shepherd's pie? I am posting a recipe for one I found tomorrow on my blog.

    I love the idea of exchanging sibling gifts on Christmas eve. We did it all on Christmas morning and it's a little overwhelming. I may do that next year.

    I feel the same way about that book about tidying up. I keep hearing people talk about it, but I just went through our whole house before we moved and AGAIN as I was unpacking. I feel like I've got a good handle on it. But now you've got me thinking if I should read it. I usually like the books you recommend.

    The college schedule: I dread that. We are already dealing with that with high school. It's so hard to get them home (not with a friend in the house!!!! Not sitting in the driveway talking!!!!) and in bed so the rest of us can go to bed. I don't know how I'll do it in college.

    I did the same thing with my diet the last month--lots of sugar and wine! Now I'm doing an entire clean eating thing in January and I already feel better...ditto on noticing it in my skin!

    Missed your blog. Glad you are back. Janey is adorable.

  9. Long time reader, and still LOVE your blog. Have you considered writing a book? You really have a gift. Thank you.

  10. There is no. way. Patrick is eight. Please check your math.

  11. Your husband with the 50 t-shirts too? It seems to be an epidemic. Ha!

  12. Wonderful post! With 20 kids, from 7-31, in laws and lovely grand babies, I totally related to every part of your Christmas. When college kiddos come home I always say we have to do "the dance" for a few days. Mom has to adjust, college kids adjust, the oldest "at home kid" is de throned for a bit, so they have to adjust too. In our home, it seems only dad has no adjustment, he thinks it's all grand! :). Just live your blog, Sarah.

    1. Correction: I only have 10 kids not 20!!! Ha what a typo!!

  13. This really pulled at my heartstrings. Especially the picture of Janey on the red radio flyer. God has ministered to my heart in a big way through other mom's comments and testimonies as to how fast the little years go. This is a perfect example of that, thank you for your honesty. I hope I can look back when my kids are coming home from college and think that I gave it my all when they were little the way that you can. I am always striving to be more selfless and it does not come easily to me. I also have the tidying up book waiting on my e-reader. I need someone to come over and hold the baby so I can go through drawers and closets. XO, Sarah. So thankful for you!