1. DOG/PUPPY IN ANTLERS
2: MUG OF HOT CHOCOLATE
3: GRINCH PHOTO SHOOT
4: WRAPPED IN CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
5: GRINCH THEME
If you celebrate Christmas, it's likely that you have a few traditions within your family. Sometimes, when we share our traditions, we hear one that we like from other families and adopt it into our own.
So, with that in mind, here are a few of my family Christmas traditions:
1: MATCHING CHRISTMAS PAJAMAS
2: READING THE CHRISTMAS STORIES
3: OPENING A GAME AND PLAYING IT ON
My family's side has a get-together where Santa stops in to bring an early Christmas present. After a certain age, my mom stopped sending the gift off to Santa and just gave it to us herself.
It's always a game, and we always play it when we return from the get-together. Since there is no get-together this year, we will get to spend more time playing our games and eating yummy snacks!
4: BAKING TOGETHER
One thing I love to do around the holidays with my mom is baking. We will make all sorts of Christmas treats for our family to enjoy the morning of Christmas.
We make things like rum balls, chocolate oatmeal no-bake cookies, sausage balls, rice crispy treats, rolo pretzels, and much more.
I find baking to be fun and I love when I hear that something I made tastes good!
5: FINDING THE NEW ORNAMENT ON THE TREE
Each year, my mom buys or we make a new ornament that had something to do with the year.
This was the year that I found out I would be the drum major of my college's marching band. And, as you can see, we did hand-made ornaments this year.
My mom made this one! However, in a year where she buys them and we don't know which is which, we stand around the tree, staring intently until we find the new addition to the tree.
This is a tradition Jonathan and I have also adopted and I hope to do with my future children!
1: SEND OUT A VIRTUAL INVITATION
First things first, pick a date and get a virtual invitation out to your attendees. There are a ton of free websites out there where you can create your own unique invitation which you can download and embed into an email. One of my favorite websites is Canva.com. You can find a ton of templates, or can upgrade for premium access options.
2: FIND OR CREATE GAMES
Since this event will likely have to be virtual, as I know mine is, you'll need to find some games you can play over Zoom or video chat. I've become somewhat of a holiday game guru in my office.
I love the Christmas/Holiday jeopardy, but you can also find plenty of Kahoot or Family Feud games out there, or make your own!
3: COME UP WITH A PLAN FOR FOOD/SNACKS
As I mentioned, my office usually does a potluck event where we all bring a dish and have lunch together. Since we don't want anyone bringing their food in in case of contamination, we considered a few ideas:
4: HOST YOUR PARTY
Now that you've done all the leg-work, it's time to enjoy your party. For me this year, I'll be the game hostess. I usually do this every year, but the game is going to be the main activity.
Put on your best holiday gear, or just a big smile, and celebrate with your team. It's been a tough year, and you all deserve a break to enjoy an hour with one another!
1. A SUBSCRIPTION BOX
2. VACATIONS OR EXPERIENCES
If you have an adventurous loved one or friend, a vacation or experience may be a great gift. This could be a family vacation, tickets to a concert or the opportunity to drive your dream car around a race track. The options are unlimited. Make sure you know what the recipient loves before purchasing. Vacations and experiences are generally pretty expensive, so you want to hit the nail on the head when you purchase this alternative gift.
3. MAKE THEM A LORD OR LADY
No, the Keeping Up with the Kardashians scene where Scott Disick became a Lord in the UK was not faked.
I’ve seen a ton of ads on Facebook where you can, for a nominal fee, make someone you love a Lord or Lady in various countries. I think it would be super interesting, and a fun thing to joke around about.
4. DONATE TO A CAUSE
If you have someone in your life who really doesn’t like receiving presents themselves, you can always give them the gift of donating to their favorite cause in their name. If your loved one is a die-hard supporter of a reasonable cause, consider donating on their behalf. This could include a wildlife adoption where you can adopt an animal in the wild to make sure they’re taken care of and protected!
5. PAY A BILL
This may be a little controversial to some, but I’ve seen almost every 20-something on my social media timeline say that they’d love to have the money someone would use toward a gift to go toward a bill. Even if you can’t directly pay the bill, giving cash or a check with the purpose that it should be used to pay a bill could be really helpful to many, especially right now.
1. VISIT A PARK FULL OF LIGHTS
There are so many parks and venues around the country that have annual light displays that you can drive or walk through. One of my favorites is Tanglewood Park’s Festival of Lights. Located in Clemmons, N.C., this festival is open now until Jan. 1 from 6 to 11 p.m.
Google your area and “Christmas Lights” to see what venues are located nearest to you.
2. PUT TOGETHER A GINGERBREAD HOUSE
3. CHRISTMAS TREE & ORNAMENT SHOPPING
4. PUTTING UP YOUR OWN CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
5. HOT COCO CONTEST
6. CHRISTMAS MOVIE NIGHT
Since it's Dec. 1, I thought I'd share a few things you can do today to get into the holiday spirit:
1. DONATE TO YOUR FAVORITE CHARITY TODAY!
Today is Giving Tuesday. On this day, several agencies in your area will match the gifts you give to non-profits you donate to. This can be a nation-wide non-profit such as United Way, or can be a local college or university, your church, or a social services organization that helps those in need in your area.
Check your favorite non-profit's website today for more information.
2. GO SHOPPING FOR WEEK-LONG DEALS
Although Cyber Monday was yesterday, there are still deals to shop throughout this week and moving forward through the holiday season. You can find deals on Amazon and other bigger retailers.
Just search for deals in your area using Google, and you may find that perfect Christmas dress on sale at Macy's!
3. GET BAKING
Nothing quite signals the start of the holiday season than breaking out the baking apron. I personally love to bake, no matter if its cookies, cake, banana bread, or something else.
Start making your favorite Christmas and holiday treats now to get into the spirit and kick off the holiday season right.
4. HAVE A CHRISTMAS CRAFT DAY
I just did this with my mom, brother, and family friends. Christmas crafting is a great way to make more ornaments for your tree or decorations for your house. You can even make some DIY gifts if you choose. Get together and come up with some Christmas or holiday crafts and do them with your family, or people you know who have been safely social-distancing and wearing their mask. If you want to see what we made, check out the video below!
5. START LISTENING TO CHRISTMAS SONGS
For all the Grinches who didn't want to listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, now is the time! Switch on some Christmas music on your Spotify or Pandora accounts while you're driving around or getting ready for the day. There's nothing really like the sound of familiar Christmas songs to get your mind into the spirit of the holidays.
What are you doing to get into the spirit? Leave a comment below, or catch up with me on social media!
If you can’t tell by my posts on social media, I’m an advocate for Black Lives Matter, which was not always the case. I used to be one of those people that wanted the whole story. But a strengthened relationship with God is truly what I think changed my mind about it all.
This is funny to me because it seems like a number of people who use this term “All Lives Matter” profess to be Christian’s themselves, while conveniently realizing they are acting much like the pharisees who killed Jesus, a man who only strove to do good.
Jesus was a man of color who was killed by the people with legal and political power in his time. It was the law that said it was wrong of Jesus to heal on the sabbath. It was the law that said Jesus was wrong to say he was God’s son. It was the law that said Jesus was wrong for saving the life of the adulterous woman.
WHY "ALL LIVES MATTER" IS A FALLACY
Logically speaking, if not all lives are equal, they don’t all matter to the social majority. Right now, the social majority is experiencing a major shift, and it has been for the past several years. This is why you are seeing more people in support of Black Lives Matter today than you saw for the movement maybe 4 or 5 years ago.
For some, “matter” is a very passive word. Sure, it matters. For others, “matter” is a powerful word that had the power to lift someone up. You matter!
For the current social majority, which is being phased out for a different social majority, the word “matter” doesn’t have a huge meaning. That’s why it is difficult for them to understand that all lives cannot possibly matter to them if segmented groups of people are treated differently for various reasons, consciously or unconsciously.
WHAT LIVES DON’T SEEM TO MATTER
- Unborn Babies’ Lives don’t seem to matter. I’ll probably lose some support from some of the people reading this at this point, but it needs to be said. A lot of children are aborted each year in our country. While some abortions are medically necessary or cases of rape or incest, the majority of them are for people who claim that they are not ready to have a child or who are financially unable to support a child. Our sex education system is beyond broken (mainly because many religious families don’t want their sexually curious teens learning about sex in school), and so is our adoption system. There are millions who are ready and willing to adopt, but it costs a fortune, and there are plenty of families who give their children happy lives without having a fortune to their name.
- Disabled and Chronically Ill People’s Lives don’t seem to matter. We have so many people who are impacted by this in our country. They are unable to get the medical care they need without going into debt, and they are always treated differently by employers, strangers, and even insurance companies.
I could go on and on about the sectors of people whose lives don’t seem to matter to the social majority. You’d be reading for a lifetime. If I left out a marginalized group of people, it was either unintentional, or I’m not informed, so please feel free to leave some info in the comments. I hope this has brought some clarity to this phrase for you. The goal, one day, is for all lives to matter. But we have a long way to go before we realize that goal. Let’s work together to make it happen.
One of my favorite things to get in the mail are VoxBoxes from Influenster. If you don't know, Influenster is a company that works with various brands to connect with influencers who can review their products.
So, to start out, I received these treats for my dog for free. However, we were not in any other way compensated for this review.
One of the things that's so great about dog food and treat reviews is that you don't have to take my word for it.
THE DOG MOM PERSPECTIVE
First of all, I was low-key shocked to get two full bags of treats from the company. They gave us the assorted bag and a bag of their Char-Tar formula.
One thing I really loved about the treats was that they're natural and made with food I'd eat myself. Not that I'd eat a doggy biscuit...
These ingredients include cheddar cheese, apples, sweet potatoes, chicken, and oatmeal. The treats are baked in an oven to keep the flavors sharp.
But what does it matter if I think they're good? What did my pup think?
MY DOG'S PERSPECTIVE
Anyone who has ever met my dog knows that she is a foodie, just like me! She isn't very picky, which makes me happy. But I'm always a little nervous to give her new things.
Part of that comes from allergies. She seems to get itchy when she eats certain foods. However, she's been enjoying these Old Mother Hubbard treats for several days with no allergic reaction.
She gobbled up these cookies really fast, and she liked both the assorted bag, and the Char-Tar mix.
Now that you know how she liked the treats, let me tell you more about the product.
ABOUT OLD MOTHER HUBBARD PRODUCTS
Old Mother Hubbard has its own website, but sells at a variety of shops, including Amazon. The treats are really affordable. The bags I received are going for about $5.50 on Amazon, and they are Prime eligible.
There are a ton of options from how soft or crunchy the treat is, to treats that address specific dietary needs. One of the coolest parts of the website is a treat quiz you can take to see what treats would be best for your dog. Find more information at OldMotherHubbard.com.
I know there are a lot of people who were put out of work, or who are getting paid by their job, but were told not to work right now. I know that it must be challenging and scary. I just want to preface this post with that, because I know some might not understand where I'm coming from.
I have quickly learned that professional and personal aspects of my life are blending together a lot during this COVID-19 pandemic, and it isn't the best for my mental health, or for the mental health of others.
He told me that he received a tip about how to kind of get ride of that extra energy floating around after working. He said you can get in your car and do whatever it is you do on your commute. For me, I listen to music or call my mom. You could stay parked and do this, or take a ride around the neighborhood.
- Take 15-minute breaks every now and then: Especially if you're used to taking a break when you're in the office. This will help you to center your focus so you don't get too overwhelmed with the day.
- Make a routine/stick to your routine: Obviously, your morning routine is going to be different since you're not commuting. I stay in bed a little longer, put on some clothes, feed my dog and take her out, do my morning update for my job, and cook and eat breakfast. The routine is similar to the one I used to have, but I had fallen away from it for a bit.
- Step away from your computer during your lunch time: For me, this is always hard. I like to answer people as quickly as possible. But, if I were working in my office, I wouldn't stop eating lunch to answer a message unless it was super important or crucial.
- Ask for clarification when needed: One of the things I really don't like about this Stay at Home order is the inability we have to effectively communicate. We are all limited to email or Zoom, mostly. And everyone is still pretty busy. If you don't understand something, ask. It will keep you from having a bad day.
- Try working from different rooms in your home: If you have a laptop, this can be great! You can move around your house, be a bit more comfortable, and be more relaxed and able to do whatever comes your way.
- Take vitamins: One thing that I've noticed is that I work best in a pretty dark room. It's probably terrible for my eyes, but it keeps me relaxed. However, this means that I'm probably not getting enough sunlight. I have a vitamin D deficiency already, so I realized that I needed to be taking my vitamin D to make sure I feel physically better!
- Get up and move: At first, I wasn't moving very much when I started working from home. The other day, I got up for about 15 minutes and learned a TikTok dance! Do something to move for a bit.
- Don't forget to hydrate: Nothing will make you feel more physically and mentally drained than being dehydrated. Make sure you're not skipping the hydration. You might not have a water cooler at home, but you have access to water. Make sure you drink some!
So, instead, I have decided to write a cheesy post about my anniversary, which is on March 18! By the time youâre reading this, it has likely passed. But, that doesnât make these lessons any less impactful.
Without further ado, here are some of the things Iâve learned as a young married woman after three years of marriage:
1: LIFE WOULDNâT BE THE SAME IF YOU ARENâT MARRIED TO YOUR BESTIE
âSeriously, I feel like I have no limitations when it comes to Jonathan. It makes me feel a little sad when I think of all of the women who have married into a relationship where they donât feel like they can be their honest, true self.
Jonathan has impacted me so much, and helped me through a number of things. He isnât the only person I talk to. I often will call up my friend Jeremy or my mom to talk about certain things. But he is always empathetic, even if he canât fully understand.
2: LIFE OFTEN KICKS YOU WHEN YOUâRE DOWN
In my experience, when it rains, it pours. Bad things seem to come in threes, and I can agree to that. On Halloween night in 2019, we were stuck sitting in the parking lot of a Family Dollar with no working car. Jonathanâs car had broken down earlier that morning, and my car started smoking, so we pulled over.
My mom gave us money for an Uber to get home, only for us to find that all of the power was out in our area for some unknown reason.
Things like this happen, and you find yourself in a bind. But instead of letting it put pressure on your relationship, it is important to work together to solve the problem.
3: HARDLY ANYTHING IS WORTH GOING TO BED ANGRY ABOUT
âWe all spend way too much time holding grudges and being angry about something. There are very few reasons, none of which Iâve encountered in my marriage, to get so upset about that you go to bed angry.
It is scary and sobering when someone in your community who is young passes away. This happened not long ago, and it was heartbreaking to me. You honestly never know what life has planned for you. You could be gone in a moment. And we as humans tend to blame ourselves when we leave things unsaid or in a bad place.
Cherish every moment, and find a way to work through your problems. But donât go to bed angry!
4: IT CAN BE HARD TO SEE THINGS HAPPENING FOR OTHERS THAT YOU WANT FOR YOURSELVES, BUT PRESS ON
âIt can be truly hard to see people having children, getting homes, buying cars, going on vacations, and so on when youâre young and married. But, it is so important to take time to enjoy one another.
Sure, it would be amazing to enjoy one anotherâs company while floating on the ocean on a cruise, or going on remarkable holidays in beautiful foreign countries. It would be great to share your love with a little one that is the perfect mix of yourself and your favorite person.
But, you have to live within your means and live in the now. If you spend time lusting after what you canât have, youâll miss the moments you can appreciate.
5: A GOD-CENTERED MARRIAGE IS SO VALUABLE
The older I get, the more important I find our relationship with God and His position in our marriage. Donât get me wrong, we were both together in times where I bond with God wasnât as strong. But now that weâve found a solid church home, and we are growing in His word, the impact on our relationship is visible.
All Lives Matter
Black History Month
Black Lives Matter
Civil Rights Movement
Drive Electric Week
National Women's Day
Old Mother Hubbard
Save A Life
Stop The Bleed
The Ingham Family
The Opinionated One
The Pioneer Woman
Things I Love
What I Learned
Year In Review