Our Family Christmas Traditions

By 8:25 PM , , ,
Growing up in a family rich with holiday traditions I couldn’t wait to add them into my own home as well as add some new ones of our own. I love traditions and hope that one day my kiddos will say I loved that...
“We did ______ every year.
Below is a list of our old and new Christmas traditions we have meshed together for our own little family over the last several years. I hope these traditions inspire you to create your own list!

The Thompson Family Christmas Traditions

Pick up, purchase, and decorate a tree together the week of Thanksgiving every year. 
The season is always kicked off by a Thanksgiving night hayride through a local Christmas light display. For those of you local to the Atlanta area check out the "Gaddy's light display on Sandy Creek Rd." They were on the great light fight show last season and always have an awesome display. We hook up a hayride to the back of a truck and kick off the season with two rides through the display. The first so you can see everything on the left side of the ride and the second you switch sides so you can be sure to see everything on the other side of the display. 
Elf on the shelf always makes an appearance at our house beginning the day after Thanksgiving. 
We watch a multitude of Christmas movies together as a family throughout the season but always included are: Christmas Vacation, Charlie Brown Christmas, Four Christmases, Elf, Elf on the Shelf, Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer, The Christmas Story, and the Santa Claus. 
Christmas punch and cookies and tree decorating with our cousins at Grandma's house. One of our favorite traditions we wouldn't miss. 
Pink Pink at Macy's Lenox Mall– For those of you who are not native to Atlanta look it up. It’s such a fun tradition that includes a train ride on a pink pig on top of the mall. We love this sweet tradition and always go with my mom. 
We always spend at least one evening driving around looking at Christmas Lights in our Christmas PJs with a cup of cocoa while listening to Christmas music. 
Volunteering together as a family to give back to our community. We have volunteered at various organizations over the years but love using our time to give back to those who are not as fortunate as we are during this season. 
Leaving a basket of snacks and drinks at our front door for the delivery men and women who work long hours to make our lives a little easier this time of year. 
Christmas Eve Service and reading the Christmas Story before putting milk and cookies out for Santa. 
Day after Christmas shopping for all the deal on Christmas goodies for next year. 
Merry Christmas, sweet friends!

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My Favorite Collection

By 2:36 PM , , , ,
Tis the season! 

It's our first Christmas in our new house and while we are still not fully unpacked (I look forward to the day I can park in the garage again) we finally have completed decorating our home for Christmas. Because...priorities.

I don't "collect" a lot of things in general but most of my collections somehow revolve around Christmas decorations, ha, go figure. One of my most favorite things I collect is nativities. I love them for many reasons but the first is that I love the simple reminders placed around my home of the Christmas story and what Christmas is truly all about. The second reason I love collecting nativities is because it brings back special memories of Christmases past. I grew up with a nativity that stayed on our mantel during the Christmas season and my brother and I played with that little nativity daily for the first 10+ years of our life the entire month of December. Every year I would look forward in anticipation to my mom pulling it out of the basement and setting it up so we could resume play. I truly wanted the same for my kids which is where the story of this collection began. I think I am now up to 10 or more.  Today I thought I would give you a photo tour of my nativities throughout my home. 

My favorite is the homemade nativity my father in law gave me for Christmas a few years ago. As I mentioned above I grew up with a nativity on our mantel when we were kids and my brother and I played our little hearts out with that nativity and I wanted the same for my kids so my sweet father in law built me my own gorgeous nativity and my mother in law found vintage gorgeous nativity figures (hard plastic so they don't break) that my kids can play with...my kids love playing with it as much as I used to with my set growing up!  Below is a photo.

I also purchased a few years back (prior to having the set my FOL built) the Fisher Price nativity. My daughter who is now almost 10 months LOVES playing with this set. It is her most played with toy.  

Here are some of the other sets throughout my home including two mini sets, a set made of wood, a set made of ceramic, and more:

What is that one thing you collect and holds a special meaning to you? Do you have any Christmas decorations you collect? Please share below in the comments. 

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The scariest day.

By 10:11 PM , , , , ,
Anyone that follows me on Instagram knows that we had a pretty scary week last week that did not go as we originally planned. Our daughter (who is 9 months old) ended up getting sick on Thanksgiving and come Monday (5 days later) she was much worse off and one sick baby. My husband took her to the pediatrician since she wasn't getting better even though we figured it was viral and would have to run its course and I headed to the airport to fly out for work. On my way to the airport I got the call from my husband that our baby girl had tested positive for RSV, wasn't breathing normally, and the pediatrician was rushing them to the hospital. 

This was a minute of calm in the storm about 5 hours in to our journey from you know where still in the ER...ignore my puffy face and dad's pure exhaustion in the background.

Praise the Lord I had not yet gotten on the flight and rushed to the hospital to meet them. We ended up meeting on the way to Atlanta and arrived all at the same time to the ER. The ER upon taking one look at our little girl rushed us back to the trauma room (without even collecting our names or insurance// scary) and immediately admitted us to the hospital where we would end up staying for the next two days. Key the scariest couple days as of yet of my life. 

We were in a trauma room in the ER for the first few hours where they did chest x-rays, ran an IV in our baby's hand, and hooked her up to tons of monitoring and wires including oxygen in her nose. For those of you who haven't been in this situation seeing your baby almost life like strapped down to a table with wires coming out, tears streaming out of her eyes, and vitals plummeting without the help of oxygen is a pretty terrifying thing to witness. Emotionally it was very challenging on us both to say the least. The next two nights my baby girl slept in my arms in a hospital bed (with the exception of being woken up by nurses every hour throughout the night and day). We were relieved when she FINALLY felt well enough to start getting bored being stuck in the same room and hospital bed on Wednesday and are so thankfully that today, Sunday, she finally seems to be back to her self. 

cuddles with my girl

We were so happy to finally see some smiles

While it was some of the scariest moments of our life we left the hospital overwhelmed with gratitude. Being in a children's hospital and just observing the children and parents around you who live in this situation and worse day in and day out puts so very much in perspective. We are SO very thankful to all of you who prayed for our little girl (and us), we are so thankful for incredible nurses and doctors and to live in a country where we have amazing healthcare (as one of the doctors told us if we hadn't had access to the hospital when we did we probably wouldn't have our baby with us today), we are thankful to have jobs that will allow us to pay our hospital bills when they come in, we are thankful to our companies for being understanding and allowing us to take time away from work to be with our baby, and last but not least we are SO thankful to those of you who called, sent texts, and brought us food and clothes both at the hospital and last week when we got home. 

finally feeling well enough to be "bored" and to sit up...watching Minnie with Daddy on his phone

All I can say is wash your hands. Wash your kids hands. RSV is out there and powerful and can be oh so scary. Also...

The power of prayer, ya'll. 
Again, thank you. 

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Dressing Your Babes Adorable on a Small Budget

By 9:45 PM , , , , ,
It's no secret I LOVE dressing my kids up in cute clothes. From dressing our son in adorable "big boy" clothes (bring on the boots, belts, button ups, and sweater vests) to dressing up our little girl aka my live baby doll (hello Texas size bows and all things smocked and girly) I truly enjoy dressing my kids in adorable clothes. However, I simply can't justify spending a ton of money knowing with the way they are growing there is a very real possibility they only wear the outfit a couple of times at best. Today I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite places to shop for kids clothes without spending an arm and a leg. 
The Smocking Bug - truly love this shop to purchase relatively inexpensive (for smocking at least) adorable smocked wear. Here are some photos of my favorites I have bought from them in the past. 

 Terrible photo but both kids were in the cutest outfits. Also bow is from the hairbow company (detailed below). 

Amazon - don't underestimate it guys...I have bought SUPER cute clothes from Amazon for my little girl from Amazon. I recently purchased my daughter's complete thanksgiving outfit for family photos all from Amazon. It included these knee high socks,  this cute outfit and these moccasins. Serious I am a huge Amazon fan. Their kids clothes are super affordable, have turned out to be great quality. Plus they allow me to shop from my living room and have free returns, um, hello.  

Mudpie - they have the cutest stuff. Especially holiday clothing. And they run sales that you simply can't beat. Check out their clearance and stock up for the next season. Seriously...I bought her Halloween outfit for next year for $1.74. Check out their sales under $10 for the best deals. I paid $4 for a needlepoint football belt for our son that is Southern Comfort cute. The below outfit I purchased for like $8. 

Once Upon a Child or Consignment Sales - ya'll don't underestimate a good consignment store and/or sale. I have gotten some of our best, most adorable things at Once Upon a Child and consignment sales. Lots of it is either barley or never been worn (again kids grow out of stuff crazy fast). For smocked outfits expect to pay around $10, cute boutique type outfits between the $5-$8 range. Typical Carters outfits are usually $1-$3. My favorite consignment find was a pair of almost new looking Ariat boots for my son for $1. Yes, $1. My husband is legit jealous. These boots new in toddler size run over $90! I also love to stock up on costumes at consignment sales. My little ones love to dress up and $2-$5 is my price range to stock up on costumes at these type of places. 

Hairbow company- this store has quickly become my go-to for adorable clothes and those "Texas size" hair bows for my daughter. They truly have the cutest clothes that are unique, adorable, boutique quality for super low prices. Especially when they run sales. Plus once you join their rewards program they send you for coupons and rewards. LOVE THIS COMPANY. I also purchased the adorable tiara (pictured below) for my daughter from this company for $1.50 that she wore when we were in Disney last month.  Ya'll so many people asked where we bought this baby tiara. I literally had someone offer me $30 for it if I would sale it off her head. Probably should have taken them up on it but I wanted it for the rest of the week. Below is one of my favorite outfits and the tiara I was referencing.

Those are my top 5 places to purchase inexpensive, yet adorable clothing for my kiddos from most recently. But we would love to know...where do you get cute, affordable clothes from your kids? Comment below and let us know! 

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Who doesn't love free things?

By 7:00 AM , , , , , , , ,
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TridentVibes #CollectiveBias 

 What’s better than getting something free after purchasing your favorite gum? You simply upload your Walmart receipt, including the purchase of Trident VIBES® gum, and wait for it to be validated and you'll receive a $5 iTunes gift card. Trident VIBES® has this rebate offer running until 11/1!

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5 Practical Tips for the Working Mom

By 5:36 PM , , , ,

As most of you know I have two little ones at home and am a consultant for a living thus meaning I spend much of my time during the week in hotels and on airplanes and thus away from my babies and sweet hubby. While I love what I do both at home and for a living there are certainly challenges to doing both roles well. While it continues to be an ongoing exercise of learning how to juggle all the roles I play in life well there are a few things I have learned over the past couple years that I want to share for other working moms or those considering working with a new baby or going back to work after taking some time off. While this post is geared toward working moms there are certainly aspects of it that can apply to all moms whether you stay at home or work outside the home and dads as well. 

1. I once heard a wise person recommend that you "outsource everything you can financially afford to which you aren't emotionally attached." Let me elaborate. For some cooking is something they are passionate about...let's say you love cooking (not me) or cooking is an activity you love doing with your kids, if so that would fall under the "emotionally attachment" category and I would say don't stop. For me personally there is nothing about cooking or cleaning that I enjoy. So for our family we have a house cleaner and often purchase already made meals. We have made the conscious decision during this phase of life with both working parents and two little ones at home that our time spent with our children is worth the financial investment of paying a house cleaner and spending more on already ready meals. For you this might be someone to do laundry for you or someone who cuts your grass. The point here is that you realize at the end of the day you are paying for your time so you can focus on what matters most to you at that point in life. 

2. Clearly define the top 5-7 most roles you play in your life and which order those roles fall...for me these roles include things such as spiritual being (relationship with God), wife, mother, consultant, daughter, friend, seeker of adventures, etc. . For you they may be roles you play in the community, athletics, etc. Defining these roles helps you clearly define your priorities and how best to juggle and manage your time which leads me to my next piece of advice.

3. Learn how to only say yes to your best yes. You need to learn how to become really good at saying "no" to things that don't fall under your top 5-7 roles and do so without feeling guilty. The most freeing part to me is to remind myself that by saying no to an opportunity what it is allowing me to say "yes" to which leads me to my next tip. 

4. Loose the word "balance" from your vocabulary and replace with intentionality. I honestly do not believe that balance is achievable or something we should strive for. If you think of your top 5-7 roles as a spinning wheel at any given point in life one of the roles will be on top, one will be in the middle, and one will be at the bottom. I believe as long as you are intentional on knowing which role you need to focus on for that moment, hour, day, or even week it is OK for another role to fall lower for a certain period of time. I will give you guys an example. Last week was an intense travel week for me and I went West to East Coast in a matter of hours. That week the role I play as consultant was highest on the spinning wheel and my role as a wife and mother fell lower on the wheel for those particular few days. However the week before that my family went to Disney as a family for the week and my role as a mother went to the top of the priority wheel and the role I play in my work world went to the bottom. Anytime my child is sick physically or emotionally my role as mother automatically comes to the top and replaces everything else. To me it comes down to very intentional moments. For me this can be taking my kids out on a breakfast date on the way to airport before I head out of town or spending a few extra moments just loving on my husband before I jump into all my to-dos. Never let anyone tell you that you can't do it all. You can. You just can't do it all at once. 

5. Last but not least spend time re-energizing yourself. I'll be honest this is the hardest one for me but whenever I have spent the time to do something for myself I have more to pour into others. For me this may be spending quite time alone with the Lord, going out to dinner with girl friends, getting in a workout, or reading a good book. Whatever that "thing" is for you take the time to do it. I know it's hard y'all. Mom guilt is real especially when you work and have to be away from your family a lot but I truly believe this is important to be the best you. 

At the end of the day give yourself grace. Whether you work inside or outside the home we all are trying to do what is best for our family. Let's be each other's biggest supporters and show love to all we interact with. YOU GOT THIS! 

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2018 Books So Far

By 7:44 PM , ,
I am way overdue for an update on what I have been reading lately. So far this year i have finished 9 books and am almost finished with my 10th. While I have read a few that I did not love I have also read some great ones. To me reading is one of those ways I love to escape life and have some great "me" Mommy relaxation time. Give me a good hammock and and great book and I a happy camper. So without further delay here is the reviews of what I have read so far this year.

1. The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

I gave this one 7/10 stars.  If you choose to read this story prepare yourself. This is a book that’s super hard to put down and leaves you emotionally gutted. This love story that takes places on 9/11 is incredibly heartbreaking but I loved how it gives you a raw look at what drives most of us—finding that one person who leaves a permanent mark on our soul and the desire to always keep them close.  The only thing else I will say is that the  ending is what made me rate it a 7. 

2. Baby Proof by Emily Griffin 6/10
I gave this book 6/10 stars. I really like a good Emily Griffin but I do have to say this was not my favorite of hers. This was a quick, easy read but also didn't turn out how I would have liked which left me emotionally unsatisfied. Still a great story and worth the read especially if you are a EG fan. 

3. The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams 
I am super bummed to say that this book came in at 2/10 stars as I did not like this book at all and do not recommend it. Which is disappointing as it was highly recommended by some bloggers I really like. I do have to say it has a great ending however I found it long and overall not very enjoyable or fun to read.  

4. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
This book takes the cake as my favorite read of the year thus far. I gave it 9/10 stars. I have to warn you it is incredibly depressing however it is such a powerful story of a French woman and her resistance during Nazi Germany. It is inspiring and had me thinking so much in such a great way during the book. Fair warning...you will cry. Go buy this magical novel now and read it. And have your tissues ready. 

5. Faithful by Alice Hoffman 
I gave this story 1/10 stars as it was another disappointment for me. It is the story of girl whose best friend dies in a car accident right out of the gate and her struggles throughout the book to become a person again. I'll be honest I just felt it dragged on without much of a plot. Save your time on this book. 

6. The Island by Elin Hillerbrand 
I gave this sweet and easy beach read 5/10 stars. It is the story of two sisters who spend a few weeks on island without power together. This story has it all laughter, heartache, and several surprises. If you need an easy girly beach read I would say this is a worthy option. 

7. Sams Letters to Jennifer by James Patterson 
This story was one I really enjoyed coming in at 8/10 stars. This book definitely gave me more than I expected. The cover, so Nicholas Sparks-ish totally lured me in as I am a sucker for Sparks. I assumed the story would be a woman reading letters from some long lost love but this story was not about that at all. You see, Sam, is short for Samantha. Sam is Jennifer's grandmother. Jennifer, her widowed granddaughter is called to town because her grandmother is in the hospital in a coma. Jennifer goes to her grandmothers house and finds stacks of letters that her grandmother wrote to her telling her about her life. The first letter begins with a shocking revelation that motivates Jennifer to continue to read all the letters in hopes of learning her grandmothers secrets. I don't want to spoil it so I will leave it at that but I really enjoyed this story and certainly recommend this book.

8. The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth 
I gave this one 6/10 stars.  In the story Alice and her fifteen year old daughter, Zoe, are as close as they come to the point where they are a bit of loaners. Alice successfully runs her own business, her daughter Zoe is a high school student, who suffers from social anxiety disorder. The only person that Zoe can even talk to other than her mom is her friend Emily and even that has its moments. As soon as Zoe feels afraid, is given attention, is laughed at or smiled at, she does the only thing that makes her feel safe, she runs home to her mother. This, make Alice feel needed. It has always been the two of them against the world, so when Alice gets a devastating cancer diagnosis, she isn't afraid for herself, she fears for Zoe. And for Zoe, who can barely speak to anyone but Alice, her life will never be the same. She must be strong for her mother and find something within herself that's worth fighting for. It is a good story of how to find yourself outside of someone else. 

9. What She Knew by Golly Macmillan 
This was an awesome mystery that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire story so I gave it 9/10 stars. It is the thrilling tell of a kid who is taken while out with his mom and the mystery unfolds of the child's future and the mother's restless journey of finding her son.  Truly awesome story and highly recommend if you are in the mood for a mystery. Although fair warning...you may never let your child out of your sight again

Happy reading! 

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We bought a house

By 3:23 PM , , , , , , , ,
Remember that time I posted about how we had spent a lot of time, energy, and money to work with an architect to draw plans for our dream home? Well God has certainly been teaching me the past two years that sometimes He has different plans for your life than what you plan. 

All that said we bought a house the beginning of September and while it is still our long time dream to one day active on our house plans and build our dream home on the land we own we decided to delay this plan a few years and instead bought a gorgeous home only 6 minutes away from the land we one day hope to build on...why you may ask? To be honest the idea behind building with everything else we currently have going on in life along with the financial cost and time frame of wanting to be done by the time our son starts school next year just felt unachievable. 

So we instead found a house that while not our dream home (it is much more craftsman and much less farmhouse style) we still love it and are so excited to be in it. We have so many projects we want to complete in this house to make it "our style" but currently are chipping away at unpacking boxes (and purging our stuff). 

We took a leap of faith and very much felt God was calling us to this home so we purchased the home prior to selling our old house and God came through in a powerful way that only He can. We ended up closing on our precious first family home only 18 days after closing on our new home. 

I am so excited to show you all the home and the projects as we tackle them one by one to make the home feel like home to us. In the meantime here are some photos of the exterior along with a photo of one of my favorite features of the house - a giant sliding barn door that hides the downstairs play area from the rest of the house when you want to have guests over. Total mom win.

And last but certainly not least is that we are now on golf cart paths so of course we bought this guy. We love it and take it everywhere. Grocery store, dinner, haircut, you name it. Now to get a big Georgia G to pace on the front.  

Thanks for reading and I look forward to updating you on upcoming projects soon along with our recent Disney trip.

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The fast, exhausting season

By 10:55 PM , , , , , , , , , , ,
Too Blessed to be stressed. If I had to pick one phrase to sum up our life lately that would be it. This would quickly be followed by, "time is flying." Somehow we have a 4 year old and a 6 month old. Why is it that life goes so much faster with the second child than it did with the first? I mean wasn't I just sharing with the world we were pregnant?

To bring you up to speed on life lately and hopefully extend some grace my way as to why the blog has taken a bit of a back road for a season I have been on the road a lot with what feels like my still new to me job that I have now been in for over a year as of June. We bought a new house and move in to it in just one week! Yes, more on that later. Our current house in which we have lived in for the past 6+ years and brought both of our babies home to is for sale. Oh and we bought a golf cart because where we are moving (only in the south ya'll) people ride golf carts to stores, restaurants, etc. and we are oh so excited to join the golf cart bubble. 

Our 6 month old suffers from severe reflux, is crazy social, and loves life. She truly could not be sweeter. Our 4 year old is turning into a boy and no longer a baby before our eyes (cue all the tears). He has started Pre-K and is rocking it writing words and drawing pictures. He loves building and wants to be just like his daddy, which let's be honest, would be a great thing.

My sweet, wonderful husband is pretty much winning at life and is not only killing it at his work life but is a rock star when it comes to holding down the fort at home while I travel for work which is NO easy feat. Especially with a baby that still wakes up several times a night. 

As for me...I'm just busy trying to juggle it all and not go totally crazy. The ball closest to the ground is the one I continually try to bounce higher while sometimes catching an unexpected ball or two with my knee on their way down. While if I am honest I feel like I am living in a perpetual state of exhaustion and my memory is awful due to the sheer volume of information and things to keep up with I have swimming through my head at any given point (hints why I try to write everything down). However, I realize just how blessed I am to have two wonderful kids, an amazing husband, a great job with a company and team I love, and great friends to walk beside me on this journey of life. We are trying to soak up the little joyful moments of life whether planned (like our upcoming Labor Day weekend at the lake) or unplanned like a late night game last night of Disney Scene-It with the family and just enjoy this truly fast, truly exhausting, but truly wonderful season of life. 

I am in this great season of learning the importance of intentality right now. Whether it be the couple of moments that I get to spend as I stop in at my daughter's daycare to feed my daughter and kiss on her before catching my next flight, or the photos I take of the stuffed animal I take of my son's on my trips, stolen ice cream dates with my kiddos, or being intentional on spending time with my husband or my friends I am learning that because time is so fast and so limited in this season I must be very, very intentional if I am to make my time count the best. 

I encourage you my friends to be just as intentional with your time. Remember each day is a gift. All in all I think this quote says it best. 

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