A handpicked list of things worth getting excited about– especially at Christmas.
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I’m starting to write this post from the hospital, and hoping to finish it from the comfort of our home, in front of a twinkling Christmas tree, with a cup of hot chocolate keeping me warm. AND most importantly, with a healthy newborn comfortably sleeping next to me.
This past week has been a LONG one. Twelve days in the hospital with a sick newborn, news of one bad diagnosis seemingly after another. All this week in between coughing fits and exams, I have been dreaming of being in our home together. This is hands down one of my favorite times of the year, and being away from our four other kids and holiday traditions has been very difficult.
Taking a moment to dwell on a few of my favorite things is always a great idea, perhaps even more so while surrounded by beeping monitors and a sterilized room. It’s a reminder that we will be home soon!
So, these are things bringing us joy, making life easier, prettier, tastier, and funner. It is some of what I love about the season– the simple and silly, and the significant. I’d also love to hear from you! Take a moment to think about what is bringing you and yours joy right now and share it with us in the comments. You’ll be happy you did.
What I’m Loving :: Christmas Edition #2
For me ::
Ellie Holcomb on Amazon Music
These albums (which you can listen to for free on the Amazon Music app if you are a Prime Member!) have been on repeat since we’ve been in the hospital with Marie. Ellie is a talented musician with a beautiful voice and her songs are full of hope and truth– both of which I am in particular need of at this time. Songs like “He Will Give the Weary Strength”, and “He Will” have been especially comforting.
Her music is also just very pleasant to listen to. It’s calm and beautiful, and definitely worth checking out.
(Also worth noting is that Amazon’s Music Unlimited is on sale right now for $0.99 for 3 months. This would be a great option for other like me who stream most of their music through their phones).
For the kids ::
Easy homemade hot chocolate.
Tis the season for playing outside in the cold and coming in to warm up with mugs of hot chocolate. We make a very simple hot chocolate mix and keep it in a mason jar in the kitchen. Simply heat some water in our tea kettle, then mix together the water and mix, and voila! Easy, delicious, three-ingredient hot chocolate.
Family favorite YouTube channel.
My husband loves to watch fishing shows on YouTube, and my kids love to join him. There is one channel in particular, though, that my kids request more than any other. Even my preschool daughter asks to watch “Tommy”.
The channel is produced by a man named Luke, who is often joined in the videos by his two young sons, Tommy and Nathan. If your kids enjoy fishing at all, they would likely enjoy this channel too. I like it because the family is a lot like ours, the videos are short and fun, and my kids can watch other kids making cameos on videos just like they do.
Check out Luke’s two channels:
Unwrapping Christmas Books
For the third or fourth year in a row, I wrapped up a stack of holiday and winter pictures books, and placed them on our fireplace. Each night our kids take turns opening a book and reading it together before bed. Unfortunately, I have not been home to enjoy this tradition this year, but I am so glad that my husband is keeping it up because the kids really love it.
You can find a whole list of our favorite holiday books here, but I wanted to highlight one book in particular in this post because I love it so much and want to share it especially with you.
The book is called Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons. The pages are filled with sweet illustrations and very simple explanations of character words that we all would like our children to understand and live by.
(If you like this book, you should definitely check out the year-round cookies book, Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons. It’s wonderful and a great conversation started to get you talking about things like optimism and pessimism, being trustworthy, contentment, and more in ways children can easily relate to).
For our home ::
This is what I’m loving in both our home, and my current home-away-from-home (Marie’s hospital room). I have used our diffuser multiple times a day since we first arrived at the hospital. In addition to diffusing, I have also been using a few diluted oils on Marie herself to help her fight these viruses.
What has both surprised and impressed me is how many nurses and doctors have commented about the oils and expressed very positive support about using them. Our room smells amazing which is an automatic conversation starter. The oils I use on my baby also have clearly positive (and usually immediate) effects.
All in all, I am so thankful for both the provision of IV fluids and monitors and knowledgeable staff AND thankful for the resources that I can also have on hand to aid in my daughter’s recovery and my peace of mind.
At home, I always love diffusing holiday scented oils around this time of year that make our home even more cozy, but also help to purify the air and boost our immune systems. I’m excited to try a blend of wild orange, frankincense, and cinnamon bark as soon as we get home. The thought of diffusing that and hanging out in front of the fire makes me giddy. This Holiday Joy blend also looks amazing and may end up in my stocking.
Oils I’m especially loving and using right now…
- Breathe & Serenity (diffused daily in our hospital room)
- Frankincense & Myrrh (used diluted on Marie’s chest to help relieve congestion) (Myrrh is 10% in December)
- Wild Orange, Frankincense, & Cinnamon Bark
- Petal Diffuser (works SO MUCH BETTER than my last inexpensive diffuser)
On our table ::
Freezer meals & the kindness of friends.
Before my baby was born, I devoted some time to stocking our freezer with healthy meals, baked goods, and staples like beans and broth. Knowing that dinner can be as easy as pulling a bag out of the freezer and transferring it to our Instant Pot is a big weight off my mind.
We have not needed to use too many of our freezer meals, though, because our friends and family have been taking such good care of us while Marie and I have been in the hospital. Meals have been dropped off at our home and delivered to me at the hospital. We have felt so loved and encouraged by everyone’s kindnesses.
I want to encourage you to not make providing meals for those in need more difficult than it needs to be. Sure, you can make a delicious homemade dish and it will be appreciated very much. But, I can tell you that we also truly appreciate the friends who have called in pizzas to be delivered to our home, and those who have brought things like rotisserie chickens, packaged rolls, and a salad in a bag. Basic grocery items like sandwich bread and treats for the kids are also very helpful.
There is a time to be the giver of the meals and a time to be the recipient. Be willing to be both!
Citrus creme brûlée.
Another delicious way to enjoy creme brûlée out of the Instant Pot! I adapted the recipe for healthier creme brûlée to make a refreshing creme brûlée flavored with lemon and orange essential oils. It’s SO GOOD!
To make citrus creme brûlée :: Follow the recipe for healthier creme brûlée, except reduce the vanilla extract to 1/2 teaspoon, and add 1 drop of lemon essential oil and 2 drops of wild orange essential oil. Top the caramelized sugar topping with orange zest (optional).
I CANNOT WAIT to get home and bake these cookies with my kids. Frosted tea cakes just scream Christmas to me, and as I have missed much of the anticipation at home, I am eager to carry on a few simple traditions at home this last week before Christmas.
These cookies are perfect for baking together as a family. There is a job for everyone, from adding ingredients to the mixer, portioning out dough, icing the cookies, and generously coating them with sprinkles. It is messy, sweet, festive fun.
What we’re reading ::
Dad’s Family Read-Aloud: Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O’Dell
Mom’s Read-Alouds: In December, we have a tradition of wrapping up Christmas picture books and opening one each night before bed. It’s a wonderful tradition, one of my favorites. You can find a list of some of our favorite Christmas books in this post.
Audiobook: Audiobooks are also almost always Christmas related in December too. So far, we’ve listened to The Best Christmas Pageant ever. I’m also very excited to listen to a new book this year– Behold the Lamb of God: An Advent Narrative. Behold the Lamb of God is one of our favorite Christmas albums. I’m excited to use this 25 chapter book to further focus on the big plan of Christmas– from Genesis to the manger.
You can find even more Christmas audiobooks, (all under $10!), in this post.
Me: A Merry Christmas and Other Christmas Stories, Louisa May Alcott. I have not started reading this one yet this year, but I hope to start when I get home from the hospital. I am trying to make it a tradition to slow down and read these stories by one of my favorite authors every December.
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Don’t forget to enter the giveaways below! Hope you have a very merry Christmas!
What I’m Loving Giveaway!!!
In the spirit of Christmas, I’m giving away three things I’m loving right now— a set of 6 ramekins, wild orange essential oil, and a copy of Christmas Cookies. Enter to win just one or enter all three! Winners will be announced Monday and items will be shipped asap!