Create a fun Christmas season with an Advent Calendar | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

advent | calendar two

When I reminisce about my own childhood, many of my favorite memories surround traditions.  Combine traditions with holidays, and you create a magical combination.

Therefore, this year, I wanted to embrace the popular Advent Calendar and create a December to remember!  Many of these activities are ones that we would have done anyway, but this year I want to be a little more purposeful about the holiday season.

Create a fun Christmas season with an Advent Calendar | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

…and with this calendar comes lots of grace.  If I don’t (and I’m sure I won’t) get to every activity, I will let myself off the hook, because mom guilt is the worst.  And my babies won’t know the difference anyway!

Great ideas for a FREE advent calendar 2015 | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

For a FREE downloadable PDF, click HERE.

Great ideas for a FREE advent calendar 2015 | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

For a FREE downloadable PDF, click HERE.

 

  1. Read about the birth of Jesus, watch THE NATIVITY (found on YouTUBE: 48 mins), make & eat haystacks.
  2. Watch THE SANTA CLAUSE and write letters to Santa.
  3. Listen to Christmas music all morning.  Decorate Felt Christmas Tree with Felt Ornaments.
  4. Make Christmas ornaments together.  This year’s ornament: Salt Dough Handprint Ornaments.
  5. Watch A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS and decorate the small, kid’s Christmas tree.
  6. Make banana bread (or other baked treats) for friends and deliver.
  7. Go meet SANTA at the mall and get pictures taken.
  8. Watch and read THE POLAR EXPRESS.  Eat cookies and drink hot chocolate while wearing pajamas.
  9. Help put up Christmas decorations at a local retirement center with our Community Group.
  10. Watch RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER and make reindeer treats/reindeer chow.  Play reindeer games (marshmallow toss/pin the nose on the reindeer/candy cane hunt).
  11. Go to the Fayetteville Square to look at the Christmas lights and take pictures.
  12. Make fingerprint/footprint/handprint Christmas cards to mail to Grandparents.
  13. Watch ELF and eat spaghetti for dinner.
  14. Watch MICKEY’S ONCE/TWICE UPON A CHRISTMAS and eat puppy chow (in honor of pluto).
  15. Make small THANK YOU gifts (mason jar gifts) for our Church staff and deliver.  Give M&M thank you to our mailman.
  16. Watch and read FROSTY THE SNOWMAN, eat popcorn out of snowman cups (sharpie on a clear plastic cup) and make snowman cloud dough (Pinterest).
  17. Read THE GINGERBREAD MAN stories and make a gingerbread house or cookies.
  18. Attend a CHRISTMAS PARTY with friends.
  19. Drive around our city, look at Christmas lights, listen to Christmas music, and end the night with an ice-cream family date.
  20. Watch and read HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (original cartoon) and make GRINCH slime!  Grinch Kabobs for a snack (grapes/bananas/strawberries)
  21. Watch HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS ( Jim Carey) and make breakfast for dinner (green eggs, green pancakes, and green milk).
  22. Throw a BIRTHDAY PARTY for Jesus.  Bake a cake, sing Happy Birthday, and read the Nativity Story again.
  23. Attend our church’s Christmas Eve Eve services.
  24. Open Christmas Eve Box (new pajamas to wear that night, and a new Christmas book/movie), make cookies, drink hot chocolate.  Put out Santa’s Christmas plate full of cookies/milk/carrots/and THANK YOU note to Santa.
  25. Eat a large breakfast, open gifts, take naps, play games — ENJOY every moment!

After I made this list, I realized I completely left off one of our family favorites — HOME ALONE!  So at some point we will also squeeze in watching Home Alone and buying tooth brushes to put in our stockings.

Having a plan also helps me to be able to keep my eye out for great deals on things to help assist in our Advent Calendar.  For example, while at Hobby Lobby yesterday, I was able to find a magnet Nativity scene kit that we can use on a large baking sheet to help retell the story of Jesus’ birth as well as a couple of great books…all at HALF OFF!  They also have a great Happy Birthday Jesus section that we can go and get some goodies for our Birthday party for Jesus.  Win, win, win.

Advent Calendar 2015 | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

Hobby Lobby 2015 — half off Christmas sale!

Here is to the best Christmas yet!

*If you missed the inspiration behind this all, be sure and check out my previous post ADVENT | CALENDAR ONE*

Advertisements
farmland adventures | ponytailsandpajamas.com

#fbf | farmland adventures

When we first had kids, it was my goal to document our family adventures so that we could look back on these years and have real, tangible memories/stories to share together. My memory is less than stellar, so documenting our life is the only hope I have of savoring these moments.

This interesting thing happened, however.  Our first child came at the tail end of my first year of teaching, and only 10 1/2 months into our marriage.  Fast forward seven months, and suddenly I was staring at another positive pregnancy test.  In a blink, we had two in under a year and a half.  I have simply been trying to catch my breath ever since.

Now that Eisley is a year, and Copeland two and a half, I finally feel like I can actually be productive again.  The blinding fog is beginning to lift.  Hallelujah!

Therefore, I have decided to embrace the #FBF (non hashtag users, that stands for flashback fridays) and dedicate the occasional Friday posts to memories of days past.

Because when my babies are no longer babies… I want to remember these hardest days of my life.  Even in living through some hard momma days, I know the saying is oh so true.

These are the best days of my life.

…and I don’t want to miss a blessed thing.

farmland adventures | ponytailsandpajamas.com

…and remembering why this sweet little face was so excited is worth the time it takes to document it.

farmland adventures | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Farmland Adventures 2014

Our first Flashback Friday post is in honor of this beautiful Fall we are having.  I love this time of year.  The cool crisp air feels good in my lungs and does magical things to my soul.

We loved the idea of starting a family tradition of visiting a corn maze/pumpkin patch every year with the kids during the fall and decided 2014 would be the year to start.

We found a local farm that spends a significant amount of time on their amazing corn mazes as well as has a lot of other activities available such as a petting zoo, pig races, wagon ride, pumpkin patch, etc.

Eisley was only three weeks at the time, so she spent her day being worn by Mommy while Copeland explored.

farmland adventures | ponytailsandpajamas.com

This animal loving boy was in hog, or maybe goat, heaven. He loved feeding and petting the animals and could not wait to see what was in the next pen.

farmland adventures | ponytailsandpajamas.com

And this sweet face that I love so much.  This face was during the pig races.  Y’all, I don’t know a thing about how the races went.  I simply could not get enough of him.  There is something so special about watching the world through a toddler’s eyes.

farmland adventures | ponytailsandpajamas.com

The corn box was another favorite.  He loved it so much that I half considered making one for our back yard.  (Let’s be real… I only half considered.  My sanity returned quickly.) We may have picked corn off of him for the next day or so but it was completely worth it.

farmland adventures | ponytailsandpajamas.com

We finished up our morning with pony rides.  I know that these pictures don’t show a smiley, happy boy… but oh man.  Copeland cried such huge tears when his turn was over that I am pretty sure I heard my heart break in two.  We immediately let him ride again, but as anyone with a newborn knows… when the baby says it’s time to go, it’s time to go.  With a little Daddy, and a little distraction, our boy did well saying goodbye to his furry friends as we left our first Farmland Adventures outing.

And thus was the beginning of our first fall tradition.

farmland adventures | ponytailsandpajamas.com

As an added perk, the pumpkins we picked from the pumpkin patch made for a pretty cute little photo session later on at our house.  😉

Milk and Cookies Siblings Costumes | ponytailsandpajamas.com

our life | halloween 2015

Halloween.  The wonderful time of year where you are forced, err I mean joyfully blessed, to dress up your children in costumes.

The first year, we sort of cheated.  Copeland was only six months old and Target had these onesie zipper outfits that could easily double as a quick costume.

Superman Infant Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

It’s a bird, it’s a plane… no it’s SUPER COPELAND!

No work and an easy $20 later…  this blue-eyed boy was set for his first Halloween.

Superman Infant Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Those eyes though… swoon.

We even lucked out that my parents had been watching him for a couple of days, and so they took him to his first Fall Festival where we picked him up.  He had a great time loving on his grandparents and we didn’t have to do any work!  Win, Win! =)

Superman Infant Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Fall Festival 2013

The second year, we doubled the size of our family and suddenly we had TWO costumes to prepare.  Going from one to two meant that if we were to purchase two already made costumes, we would be spending twice as much as the previous year (at least!) which immediately made the easy option less appealing.

That meant that this momma would be doing her first DIY costumes.  Eisley was barely a month old at the time, but we had an idea to play on siblings and ran with it.

Luke & Leia Halloween Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Meet Luke & Leia

Aren’t they just cutie pies?!  This was our take on the Star Wars siblings, Luke and Leia.

Luke & Leia Halloween Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Y’all, that smile! He LOVED his lightsaber.

We were blessed once again to be with family for Halloween. This time we were with Jonathan’s brother, Michael, and his wife, Lindsey.  Their sweet baby boy was born just five short weeks before Eisley so we were able to enjoy both babies’ FIRST Halloween’s together.  Special memories!

Luke & Leia Halloween Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Fall Fest 2014

This year, I actually started thinking about Halloween at the end of summer.  I looked at many blogs with matching kids costumes and saw where one mom dressed up her two children as milk and cookies.  I knew immediately that we had found our costumes for this year.

Milk and Cookies Siblings Halloween Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Halloween 2015

There is quite possibly nothing our little boy loves more than milk and cookies.  It was perfect.

Milk and Cookies Siblings Halloween Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Copeland was convinced he was a robot, not milk. By the end of the night we had compromised on “Milk Robot.” =)

His costume was super easy y’all.  I used an old diaper box, an empty paper towel roll, red/white/blue felt, white ribbon, and lots of hot glue!

Milk and Cookies Siblings Halloween Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Those curls! We can barely handle the cute factor on those things.

And here is our, sweet as a chocolate-chip-cookie, girl.

For her costume, I branched into the sewing world for the FIRST TIME EVER.  No lie, first time ever.  I am still not sure how to start or stop a stitch, or what a real stitch looks like.  But somehow, I managed to throw this thing together in less than an hour. I used about a quarter yard of tan felt.  Found something in my house to use for a circle template and cut out four large circles.  Sewed two of those bad boys together at a time, flipped it inside out, stuffed it, and voila!  Cookies!  Then, I cut out circles from dark brown felt and hot glued them on as well.  The final step was gluing on the straps, and I was D-O-N-E!

Milk and Cookies Siblings Halloween Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Milk and Cookies

I was surprised at how easily everything came together, and even more surprised that their costumes actually turned out like I had pictured them in my head.  Phew!  I got lucky.  😉

Milk and Cookies Siblings Halloween Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Our Family – Halloween 2015

We had made plans to attend a local church’s Fall Festival this year since we wouldn’t be visiting family.  We thought we would be going alone, but in the days prior, and even hours prior, plans fell into place for our friends to join us!  Even Jonathan’s sister was able to come (even though we only phoned her about it the hour before we were to leave!).  She quickly threw together a Cookie Monster Costume that was the perfect addition to our Milk and Cookies.

Milk and Cookies Siblings Halloween Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Halloween Fun with Friends!

The night was rainy and cold and the indoor festival we thought we were attending ended up being outdoors.  After standing in the cold/light rain for far too long, we eventually decided to  come back to our house for some fun and pictures.  The spontaneity made for great memories in the end.

Milk and Cookies Siblings Halloween Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

…and seriously.  I don’t think this crew could have been any cuter.  =)

our life | siblings

The week leading up to the birth of our second child held a lot of emotion for me.  Some expected, some not.  I was nervous, excited, anxious, and ready.  For those emotion, I was prepared.

There was one emotion, however, that I wasn’t prepared for: the feeling of guilt.  I had this overwhelming sadness for my son.

In the sixteen months of his life so far, he had had our undivided attention and love.  I knew that this was about to end, and I felt such guilt for it.  We had caused that.  We, in a sense, were taking away some of our love to give to another child.

Fourth of July

At least, that’s how I felt.

I cried many, many tears that final week.  The night before we were scheduled to be induced, I held my little boy so tight in my arms as we said our goodnight prayers and just sobbed.  I begged God to never let him feel like we loved him any less simply because he wasn’t the only child anymore.

I just felt like he was being cheated somehow by us having our daughter so soon.

I never would have guessed just how wrong I was.

Meeting Eisley

Meeting Eisley

The moment I held that little girl in my arms, I knew my love wasn’t divided.  In those hours after I had delivered her, my heart expanded and I simply loved MORE.

The joy that would come with watching our son be a brother, completely took me by surprise.

First Fall Together

First Fall Together

His love for his sister is something fierce, and it started early.

He asks to hold her.

IMG_6668 IMG_6670 IMG_0948 IMG_0488

He asks to kiss her.

IMG_0163 IMG_3218 IMG_4155 IMG_7674

He asks for us to sit her beside him.

IMG_3706

Put her “right here mommy!”

He brings her the things that he thinks she needs to make her happy.

IMG_6206 IMG_6209 IMG_7676

He shares his favorite, beloved toys with her.

He stares at her.

He talks to her.

IMG_3157 IMG_7827 IMG_7828

Y’all, this boy.  He loves her.

IMG_7445

It hurt me to think about the things that he might miss out on by not being the only child anymore.  I cried over knowing that he would have to share his Daddy, Mommy, and even his room and toys.

He would never know life before her, but we would.

I just knew how happy of a baby he was, and I didn’t want that to change or to take any of that from him.

What I know now is that he has gained so much more than all of those things that I thought he was losing.  He is learning to love.  To share.  To bring happiness and joy to another.  We already get to watch him be a protector as he constantly wants to know where she is and that she is okay.

In return, she loves him so much and awards him with smiles for his affection towards her.

IMG_2420

I love watching their relationship grow and the sweet bond that they already share.  I wish I could have told my hurting heart before she was born just how precious these days are.

I would not trade this for the world.

God. Is. Good.

IMG_7051

Trust me, I know that I have many days of the following before me.  But for now, I delight in this moment of time: where their love for each other is pure and fun.

IMG_4149

And in the future, when their fighting overwhelms me, I can look back and remember that once upon a time they did actually love each other.

Once upon a time.

our life | welcome friends

It has been seven months since I packed up my classroom, turned in my keys, and drove away from my beloved teaching job.

Even now, I can feel the fresh sting of tears that streamed down my cheeks as I pulled out of the parking lot for the last time.  I was six months pregnant with our second child and anxious to start my journey as a stay-at-home mom.

However, leaving the comfort of a regular paycheck and coworkers that I loved, to spend my days with two children under two was intimidating and a bit frightening.

Fast forward to the present, and I have to say that staying home is still somewhat intimidating and scary.  I love being home and am grateful beyond words for this opportunity.

Let’s be honest though.  The weight of motherhood (cultivating and shaping the future of my own children) can be a heavy load.  The pressure of “enjoying every moment” because it will be gone all too quickly is exhausting.

And yet, in the middle of the chaos and self doubt, I can look into these faces… and it all melts away.

These two don’t just have my heart.  They are my heart.

Shopping with Two in Tow

Shopping with Two in Tow

Daily they push me to be stronger and more courageous.  The picture above was taken just last week when I finally braved going to buy our weekly groceries by myself with the babies in tow in freezing cold weather.

This moment in time represents a braver version of myself than I had previously known.

Copeland Watching His First Parade

Copeland Watching His First Parade

They teach me to find joy and amazement in things I wouldn’t have before.  Seeing life through my son as he learns about the world around him is priceless.  Watching the smile on my daughter’s face the moment she sees me or my husband is pure delight.

A few weeks ago, my family went to an amusement park and stayed to watch the Christmas parade.  Something that I truly didn’t care one way or another to watch, suddenly became a memory that I hope to never forget.  To be truthful, I can’t tell you what the parade looked like. My eyes did not leave my son’s face for more than a few seconds.  He was enthralled by the lighted floats, music, and characters that passed us.

His smile was one of curiosity and his eyes  were huge as he took it all in.  He waved at every. single. float.  It was precious and filled this momma’s heart to the brim.

A Braver Version of My Former Self

A Braver Version of My Former Self

Most of all, they have taught me to be flexible and let go of control.

When kids enter the picture, things just don’t go as planned 90 percent of the time.  Most days, my hair is in a ponytail and we are still in our pajamas far too late into the day.

Sometimes, I celebrate just getting to take a shower at all.

I consider it a good day if I get to do either my make-up or my hair.  It’s a great day if I get to do both.

If I somehow manage to stay on top of the house and not let the dishes or laundry get too piled up, I consider it a win.

Because when it comes down to it… having my babies curled up in my lap and spending these precious moments with them is far greater than having make-up on or my hair done.

So this is our life…our journey.

Welcome to Ponytails and Pajamas.