Hello my friend; how are you today? Whether bustling with joy or feeling the pressure, join me in a giant collective deep inhale… hold it… and exhale. Feels better doesn’t it? I won’t go on the tangent of deep breathing for health reasons and how we all usually are shallow breathers. Here’s a quick overview. But I’ve been reminding myself often over the last few days to take some deep breaths- at the traffic light, before I eat, when I wake up, etc. It helps.
While I do feel a little stress of making sure all I want to have done is on my list and that I’m checking them off, I mostly feel excited. I’m proud of the way I planned for Christmas this year, as it definitely has not always been like this in years past. I promised myself I would start early this year on planning and prepping and it really paid off. It makes me want to consider for being more thoughtful and intentional about 2023 plans and prep, but I’m not ready to jump to new year thinking yet. There’s Christmas to celebrate, first! And we’ve been busy bees.
Let’s back up to the weekend. Friday we partook in one of our favorite Christmas tradition- family team shopping! We’ve done this for years and one of the nights we look forward to the most. This year Kaitlyn and I were paired up. We parked at Birkdale Village, an outdoor mall with all kinds of shops and festive decorations. Each team took a set budget and had 1.5 hours to shop for the other team. We ended the evening with the kids’ request- dinner at Bonefish Grill so we could have a family drawing contest on their paper tablecloths. Huge success of an evening!
Saturday was bustling. Kaitlyn had a TKD tournament and both girls had their first basketball games. I LOVE watching them play basketball. It’s fast-paced and exciting. Plus, the coach is cute. David is coaching both 😉 We met friends at Hoptown for dinner (Cantina 1511 delivers there) and crashed hard into bed that night.
I planned for Sunday to be my make-ahead meal prep day and whew, was it ever! I started with sourdough waffles (a fabulous recipe to make the night before, let ferment overnight, and cook in the morning). Then I aimed to make 9 dishes and worked from 10:00 until 5:30 straight (while running back and forth to watch the World Cup Final- what a match!). Ultimately I knocked out 8 of the 9 I planned on and felt pretty good about that. My deep freezer is now full to the brim with:
- Classic Lasagna
- Vegetable Lasagna (so excited to try this one; it looked amazing)
- Vegetable Soup
- Chicken Enchiladas
- Sausage and Egg Casserole
- Hashbrown and Egg Casserole (subbed feta)
- French Toast Casserole
- White Chicken Chili Dip (I finished and froze this one last night)
It was a lot of work and dishes, but goodness it feels so good to have so much prepped and ready to go. There will still be plenty of cooking and assembling when family is here, but having this done will make a huge difference.
Yesterday was a special day. I baked some sourdough (using Jen’s method), then the girls got dressed and gathered the money from their “Give” jars (they divide their money into give/save/spend). They had been stashing away money from their cake pop and lemonade stands this summer just for this occasion. We checked the Feed NC website where they list what they need most, then we went shopping.
They filled their carts with spices, diapers, pantry staples, deodorant, and more. The cashier at Aldi was patient while they counted out their wads of ones, fives, and coins. Then we packed it all up and drove it to Feed NC to drop off, along with mine and David’s monetary donation. The girls wheeled it in and the volunteers weighed it- 163 lbs!
The staff and volunteers on duty were wonderful. One man told the girls what a blessing they were and a woman took their picture so she could share their story. I’m grateful for them making it a big deal for the kids. We talked afterwards and both Hailey and Kaitlyn felt the warmth of being able to make an impact and have goals to give even more next year.
David and I talk to them about how fortunate we are to be in a position to be able to give back. It’s a value we hope to instill in them, and having them participate first hand has proven to be more impactful that any little speech we’ve ever given them. I am so proud of them and their efforts.
Last night David took the girls to basketball while I popped in and out of some stores to finish up a few last minute items and I’m officially DONE with shopping! …and almost done with wrapping.
That brings us to today. The plan is to bake gingerbread men, make Grandma Betty’s seasoned Christmas oyster crackers, visit the dentist, and pick up the house. For me, this is the final prep stretch, as tomorrow is about getting the house cleaned before family arrives Thursday. We are a very excited bunch and are looking forward to the time we will get to spend together.
Wrapping this post up with a big inhale and exhale as I trot off to go make the gingerbread dough. I’m trying this recipe this year and have high hopes. Have a great Tuesday! <3