Resisting All That Stuff : We Did Christmas a Little Different This Year

As I sit here and type this I'm listening to the kids play with the new things they received for Christmas this year. Except, most of those things didn't come from us...

This is the first year we (I) really stuck to our (my) guns about gifting the kids something they want, need, wear and read. I even took it one step further and lumped the "need" and "wear" together.

In all, on Christmas Day, the kids opened three gifts from us, and aside from some stocking stuffers, just a single gift from Santa.

At first I was worried there wouldn't be enough stuff for them to open. But, really, since when does the number of items under a tree equal love, affection, and the actual meaning of Christmas? I'll answer that one on my own. Never.

Plus, when all the wrapping paper was torn off, the boxes were discarded, and the living room was good and properly messy, the kids didn't notice one bit that mom and dad had gifted them three things, or that Santa left a single gift.

It was really hard not to buy all the stuff. There were so many toys and gadgets and gizmos that would have been fun to see the kids open. But, I knew our Christmas plan would be worth the willpower of resisting all that stuff.

And, between the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, the kids had plenty to unwrap on Christmas morning.

And, let's be honest, our (town)home is small. We don't have a ton of extra storage for stuff. We barely have room for the things we genuinely need and use. And, I am just so.damn.tired. of crap cluttering our house. Stuff that gets played with for a few weeks. The novelty of the newness wearing off. Then it all just sits to collect dusts for a year before it's time for yet another to purge to make room for more new stuff.

In lieu of lots of presents, we decided to take the kids on a Christmas trip (which I hope to post about soon). It was the best holiday decision we've ever made. We took the money we would have used on stuff and put it towards experiences. We saw shows, ate good food, experienced things we hadn't seen or done before as a family. We made memories that are priceless, more valuable than anything from a store, with a price tag, and require batteries.

Maybe next year we do all the gifts again, but I doubt it.


Stuff the Envelopes and Deck the Halls with Mpix

This post is sponsored by Mpix. However all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

I try to respect the turkey, but if I can get a bulk of the Christmas done early you'd better believe I will.

When I was able to cross off holiday cards, holiday thank yous, and an update on family photos, all before Thanksgiving, I was pret-ty pleased.
Way back in September we had family photos taken, and as soon as I got them back I could not wait to dive into creating our holiday card.

This year, while selecting a card I knew I wanted something modern, clean, and simple. Our photos were all taken at various colorful locations, so I needed a card design that would showcase our photos, not steal the show.

Mpix came through huge. There were limitless choices that fit my bill. I mocked up at least a half a dozen different cards. The hardest part of the holiday card process wasn't finding an Mpix card design, it was selecting just one.

While I'm chomping at the bit for a full reveal of our Mpix holiday card, a sneak peek will have to do for now.

Next on my checklist of must-haves for paper goods was a Thank You. One of my favorite family photo "hacks" is utilizing a photo I love (but don't use on the holiday card) and turning it into a Thank You. I've mentioned this in a few different places already, but I love the idea so much I had to share it here, too.
Again, Mpix nailed the Thank You designs, and it was another difficult decision narrowing down my choices to just one. As the kids (or Scott and myself) receive gifts throughout the holidays we'll snag one of these cards, write a personal note on the blank backside, and drop it in the mail. Viola! Another fun use for family photos.

Last, but most certainly not least, was the print made from our family pics. I've been making a conscious effort to print a photo from our photog session rather than just let them sit on my hard drive. Mpix offered a variety of print options: canvas, metal, acrylic, wood... We've never opted for an acrylic print, so I figured we'd give it a go.
I. LOVE. IT. It is the coolest print I think we've ever had. So clean and sleek. It even comes with a handy little level, which will save a lot of arguments and time in this house.

Have you gotten your holiday print needs taken care of yet? Be sure to check out Mpix for everything from your holiday card, thank you notes, prints, photo books, ornaments, and so much more. There's free standard shipping on orders over $35, and if you're new to Mpix you'll get 25% off your first order when you sign up!


Under The Sea - Julia is Three

Months before I probably should have been thinking about a third birthday party, I was thinking about a third birthday party.

Between our trips to Disneyland, numerous viewings of The Little Mermaid, a favorite show being Bubble Guppies, countless books and stories about mermaids, and a love for swimming at our pool, it seemed pretty obvious the direction we'd be headed.

As the planning got under way I knew I didn't want the decor to be super character-y, but I wanted the theme to be clear. Julia's favorite color is purple, so we needed to incorporate that, paired with blues, turquoise, and some pops of pink and white. I envisioned balloons and paper lanterns dotted throughout, sequenced tablecloth resembling shimmering mermaid scales, and of course, a swimming pool.

As decorations started to amass in our home my bedroom turned into a storage facility. I'm sure I was more excited to see everything unfold more than Julia (and most certainly more than Scott).

 A week leading up to the party our kitchen was buzzing with baking and jello making and balloon inflating.

Day of, I couldn't believe how fast and easily everything came together (shout out to both Grandmas for helping).

As with every good party, I completely failed to get any photos of the event in progress, save for the one photo of the Birthday girl, Scott, and me.

Post party, we used a few wall photos (act surprised) to print off and send out thank yous.
This may have been one of the easiest parties we've thrown. I'm not sure if it's because we're no longer new to this rodeo, or the details are getting easier to nail down. At any rate, cheers to three. It's time to start planning for four.


Let's Play Catch Up

Phew. That was a hiatus if I've ever taken one. With both kids in school (albeit just a few hours a day for Julia), I'm hoping to have just a smidge more free time on my hands to get back into documenting.

Edit. That first paragraph is hilarious. This draft sat idle for over two three months, and I'm finally hitting that publish button.

So much has happened in the last handful of months, it seems silly to try and do dedicated posts for each and every event that's taken place.

Rather, a highlight reel should, for the most part, hopefully catch us up...


  • Marcus and I had a one-on-one date to an interactive art installation.

  • Marcus graduated from Kindergarten.

  • Scott participated in a triathlon in Big Bear, where we cheered him on and had a bit of a weekend get away.

  • We began our first leg of our annual Midwest tour in Omaha and Iowa, hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa Dudding.


  • We wrapped up the Midwest tour in Kansas City, spending time with Grandma and Grandpa Macke, and all the cousins (more fantastic walls were found, and I have high hopes to do a post on those, too).

  • Julia attended her first birthday party that was solely for girls.


  • Marcus began his first season of basketball.

  • We stopped by the Maricano Museum to check out a Yayoi Kasuma installation, and a visit to Sprinkles Cupcakes.


  • Julia turned THREE! A dedicated post on that is coming soon.


  • A day trip to San Diego was made to check out Wonderspaces.

  • Julia began her first year of preschool.

  • Marcus entered 1st grade.


  • We had annual family photos take. This year's might be my favorites yet. Expect more to come on those. ;)

  • Scott and I took the plunge and started renovating our master bathroom. Multiple trips and endless hours were spent in home improvement stores. This consumed most of the month, and the months to follow.


  • We celebrated my brother getting married.

  • And enjoyed Fall-like temps during our visit.

  • Marcus began his first season of flag football. And loved it.

  • Fall baseball also picked up. Which meant October weekends were pretty well booked for us.

  • For Halloween the kids decided to be characters from one of their favorite movies, The Greatest Showman. And their costumes might just be my favorite of all time. (Shout out to KFC for having the most perfect "circus-like" wall.)

And now here we are. Half way through November. Maybe I'll get my stuff together and keep up with life a little better (no promises).