A week to go...will it get done?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

With Christmas only a week away, Santa has a lot to get accomplished!  Santa has to think up a creative way to tell the boys about their upcoming trip.  I think he may be planning on having them open up a box at certain times with little clues about where they are going.  Mrs. Claus better deliver this year too after bringing the boys a super delicious homemade Death Star cake last year.  Yep, the boys assured me that Mrs. Claus's cakes are the very best that they have ever had and I need to get the recipe.  So, hoping she will live up to their expectations again this year!

Now, I know Santa will be very busy getting ready for his big night, but at our house we will be having a house full of kids over a few days before Christmas for a Christmas Movie night complete with Homemade cut-out cookies, homemade hot chocolate & popcorn. So excited to have those kiddos over for some holiday fun.  We usually have anywhere from 7-15 kids over!

When we moved to Thailand 3 years ago, we decided to invite a few families over for Christmas Eve dinner.  I didn't want to be home alone for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and thought it would be fun to have a traditional Christmas Eve dinner with other families that will be around.  We usually invite a new group each year and we will be doing the same this year too.  I love doing this, but again, the cooking situation (small oven and one burner) does seem to cause a lot of prep time.  This weekend I will be prepping food and baking.  We will even be having a ham (you do not want to know what a 4 pound ham costs here in Thailand!)

I  would still like to go ice skating (for the very first time!), have the boys pick out gifts for each other, check out the Christmas lights at the mall, let the boys get a special treat of Starbucks Hot cocoa, and a few more Christmas crafts thrown in.  Whew...I feel like I need to sit down after that list.  Just. Breathe.

I love Christmastime and all the excitement that surrounds it, but I need to remember to take a breath and just enjoy it.  It is already going by way too fast.  I will get everything done and so what if I don't. It really is about spending time together with friends and family and savoring the day. I need to try not to put a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself and just relax and enjoy.  This is a lesson I am really trying to learn this holiday season.  My boys won't remember me doing all of these crazy activities, but they will remember the time I have spent with them. The holidays don't need to be stressful.  Next year, I am going to have a much simpler Christmas.  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season with your family and remember to enjoy the moment.  Merry Christmas!
Seeing Santa for the first time in Thailand!
 Making ornaments
Frosting Cookies
Our Elf, Stinky Piper, that has been visiting our home for the past 6 years.

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Stuff...Can I really get rid of it?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Lately I have been stressed out and unmotivated.  I have growing piles of stuff that are starting to consume my whole house.  Now, if you would stop by, you may not think my house is too out of control because all of the piles have their own nice little space, but there are piles on every counter top and table you can see.  Stuff is really getting on my nerves.  How did it get like this?

When we moved here 2 years ago, we left almost everything at home and came to Thailand with 11 suitcases. Most of the suitcases were packed with school supplies, as I had no idea what I would be able to find here.  When we moved in and unpacked, our house was still pretty empty.  It's not so empty anymore.

This is where the problem began.  We do not have a dishwasher and clearly I am lazy because I seem to keep buying more dishes so that I don't have to do dishes after each and every meal.  It seemed like a good plan until my entire counter top is covered with dishes and then I have to spend and hour trying to get them all washed.  My thinking was completely wrong.  I need less.  I need fewer dishes, so I will only have to spend a couple minutes washing them and then my work will be done and my counter will be cleaned.

I am not one to buy something every time I go out. And my kids do not get presents unless it is their birthday or a very special occasion, but still, our house is being taken over.  I'm positive those piles of papers and mounds of legos multiply over night.  I want less.  I'm ready to rid our house of anything that has not been touched in the last 6 months. If it is not serving a purpose in our house, it must leave. I need the stress of out of control clutter to be one less silly worry that is in my life.  I have been feeling this way for a few months now, but still have not really acted upon cleaning out my house because when I look around it just seems a little too overwhelming.

Thankfully, I am not the only one feeling this way. A friend invited me to join a "de-clutter your house before Christmas" group.  Perfect timing.  Seeing these other women share photos and stories is so encouraging.  I am not failing as a mom, wife, house cleaner...I cannot do it all.  Because honestly, when I look around my house I feel like I am failing.  Why couldn't I just put the dishes away?  Why didn't I organize that bookshelf?  Why is there still a pile of DVD's on my desk when we haven't watched DVD's in over a year?  If I have less, my house won't get out of control.  There won't be added stress in my life and I will have hours of my life back that would have been used up by cleaning. I am so excited about being a part of the "de-clutter" group.  I'm ready to simplify my life and have less stuff.

If your interested in doing a massive de-clutter on your house, let me know.  You can join the group and be encouraged by other women who will cheer you on to a life that is a lot more freeing.  Thank you Haley, for including me on this mission. (oh, and I will post before and after photos once I get started!!)
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A huge surprise for Christmas!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I am so excited I can hardly contain myself.  It's all about the gift the boys will be getting for Christmas this year. I love Christmas morning...watching the boy's faces light up when they see that Santa has found his way to our house all the way in Thailand.  (The first year we were all a little concerned about that.) What I don't love are the toys.  Thankfully Santa doesn't go overboard, but even after a few present a piece times 3 house is out of control.

After last Christmas, Ben and I had a talk and decided that instead of presents they boys would be receiving a trip from now on. Birthdays are all about them and they can get gifts, but Christmas is about spending time with family.  I don't know about your kids, but mine rarely play with their toys unless it is legos.  I feel like we have a million tiny pieces tossed all over the house, but no one can play with them because are not nice and organized in the play room.  I am completely over toys!

I thought a trip would be a perfect gift and might be a little more meaningful for all of us.  We are in a wonderful location to visit many of the surrounding countries, so we might as well take advantage of it while we can.  I won't give it away until Santa comes to deliver his scavenger hunt explaining where we are going, but I'll give you a few clues.  It involves two different countries, one may make us feel like we are in a scene from Tomb Raider, and the other is supposed to be the "Happiest Place on Earth." I can hardly wait!!  It's going to be a Christmas to remember for sure!

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How we celebrate Thanksgiving in Thailand

Monday, December 2, 2013

It's that time of year for family gatherings, yummy meals, and traditions.  I love the holidays.  I was really nervous about moving to Thailand and trying to figure out how I could recreate our holidays here.  I did not just want any of our holidays to be "just any old day" and be forgotten.  I didn't want to feel depressed around the holidays and I wanted to make sure the boys would have great memories of how we spent our time celebrating together. So, I began my mission of bringing the holiday season to us.

The first year was really hard.  I had no idea where to find a turkey for Thanksgiving.  My oven is the size of a small microwave.  I only have 2 burners (now only one working burner) to cook on.   Sweet potatoes are not orange here, they come in a variety of colors from purple to white to greenish-gray. There aren't any holiday specials on the TV.  How would my boys experience Thanksgiving without Charlie Brown or football? I'm kidding, but because of all of these obstacles, it made me get pretty creative.
 Britton's Mayflower
 Lincoln's Mayflower
 Greyson's Mayflower
 Cinnamon playdoh turkeys

 Lego Squanto
Pilgrim hat & Turkey

I started preparing Thanksgiving  food two weeks before the big day.  I try and make the same traditional foods that we would have back home down to my Great-grandma's dressing, sweet potato souffle, and apple pie.  It takes a lot of searching for these foods.  Grocery shopping in Thailand is like a scavenger hunt. One grocery store will not have all the ingredients you need.  I usually have to go to at least 2-3 stores to find all I need.  I managed to find all goodies for our Thanksgiving dinner.
 Cranberry smoothies & Turkey Sundaes
 Rice Crispy Turkeys
Apples & Dip

This year, we spent the week leading up to Thanksgiving with lots of crafts, themed food and movies on the topic.  I absolutely love theme food, we we had plenty of turkey themed snack this week. Thanksgiving Day is a little different here.  Ben still had school, so the boys and I had our own Thanksgiving celebration.  They even had turkey and pie for their lunch!  (This was something the boys asked for again this year after doing it last year.  The turkey had popcorn in it and the pie had a pumpkin cookie in it.)  We watched The Peanuts' Mayflower Voyagers and all discussed what we are thankful for.

The following Saturday was our family Thanksgiving celebration.  I managed to squeeze that  8 pound turkey into a tiny pan in my tiny oven.  I made way too much for the 5 of us, but at least I won't have to cook for a few days.  It was lovely spending time together as a family.  The boys cracked up over the Thanksgiving Mad Libs we worked on.  We even managed to finish off our night by watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  It was really a wonderful day.

 Lots of lego fun

Holidays require a lot of time and effort here, but I am so happy I do it.  I love that the boys are already requesting some of the activities we have done in past years.  I love that they are experiencing their own holiday traditions.  Now on to Christmas and one of my favorite traditions,The 25 Days of Christmas. If you want to see what we will be up to during the month of December, check here.

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