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.
Husband: Still reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Old Man and The Boy
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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!
I love to bake so making gingerbread snowflakes and decorated sugar cookies are always made for Christmas I always try to do more than I’m able to accomplish but I love sharing my baked goods with others.
I’m sure others are happy recipients of your baked goods!
I’m loving lookong at everyone’s Christmas lights on my drive home from work. So pretty!
Pam Mcpartlin says
I am loving my Instant Pot and all your tips for using it.
Dhannon s says
I am so grateful that I came across your page thanks to a friend who shared you making something! I’ve really enjoyed learning from you.
I am so glad you are here too!
Cheryl Nolan says
I am loving spirit of Advent in this time of preparation. I am loving renewed connections with friends and family. I am loving the spirit of giving and kindness in our community. I am loving our new little grandson and the joy and wonder we see on his parents faces.. This week is cookies week so my focus is lots of different kinds of cookies. I love that I was organized enough to make 9 meat pies and have them in the freezer for gifts and meals. I so appreciate your hints and recipes for delicious and healthy food. Thank you! Prayers that your little baby girl is well enough to go home soon! She is adorable!!
Sounds like you have much to be thankful for this year! Merry Christmas Cheryl!
Love your blog! Great info! So glad you and Marie are home and well!
Thanks Susan! Merry Christmas!
I”m loving the spirit of others this time of year. People helping people is what it’s all about. I’m seeing it every day in some way.
I am loving my instant pot and The Jesse Tree devotional book!
Right now I am loving an 80 degree Christmas season in Florida!
I am currently loving having my nephew live with us. Especially this time of year. I am also currently loving my instpot. It is new to me and I love cooking with it.
Thanks for these awesome recipes! Following your blog!
I’m loving that it’s finally cool enough in Phoenix to wear pants and long sleeves.
Ha, and I am thinking it is too cold!!!
PAT SEYUIN says
I am Loving Spending time with my Little grandsons. I am also Loving the fact that I found your blog/ videos. You have a great attitude in life and it shows through what you do. I love your videos!
Thank you Pat! Glad you are here!
Alison Harvey says
So glad that you and your baby are finally home ….
Recently got an Instant Pot and love all your tips .
I’m loving Christmas music – Third Day and Casting Crowns Christmas CD’s especially – played all day long! And Christmas cards coming in the mail each day! And snuggling up in the chair enjoying the Christmas lights on the tree late at night! My kids love to wrap up our Christmas books and open one every night. Now that I have 3 out of 4 readers in our house, they read the story to everyone else! And thank you for the hot cocoa recipe – I’ve been looking for one. Praying that you get your precious baby home soon.
I love that your kids take turns reading the Christmas books! And receiving Christmas cards in the mail is definitely a highlight for us as well. Hope you and your family have a merry Christmas!
I also have many years bought a new Christmas book or two and slipped it in with the other wrapped books. It is so fun to see the surprised look on their face when they unwrap it!
This is the first year that all three of my kids have been old enough to partake in all the Christmas things! I love seeing the joy on their faces and being able to share all of my favorite things about the season with them 🙂
Yes, it is such a special time with your children! Parents get double enjoyment from the season.
I am currently loving the potpourri I have made in my mini crockpot by adding whole clove, cinnamon sticks, whole nutmeg and ginger ( with some water of course). It’s making our house smell like Christmas!
Nicole Wilson Conley says
So grateful for the ways that you pour into so many homes and lives, even as you are busy caring for your Sweet Baby while she’s so sick right now. Continuing to pray for healing!
Lisa Russell says
I think Creme Brûlée is one of my favorite desserts! That looks good!
I currently loving the slower pace we are taking and the excitement in our little boy’s eyes.
I am always a fan of a slower pace!
Loving opportunities to spend time with family! Hope you and baby are home soon.
Lisa, so glad to hear that you and Marie will be returning home to the warmth of your family! I made your Frosted Tea Cakes yesterday with white frosting and red/green sugar sprinkles. Must say, they are delicious! I put the ramekins and a torch on my Christmas wish list…can’t wait to try the creme brulee. I also highly recommend Behold the Lamb of God on Audible. Can you do a post on essential oils. I have a bamboo diffuser but am not well versed on which oils to use for different purposes or which ones to combine. Thanks! Merry Christmas to you and yours.
Best wishes to you and family on the new baby!
Kim H says
I am loving my youngest son’s excitement at each Christmas tradition – decorating the tree, putting up the Nativity, doing cards, wrapping gifts, etc. I’m also loving the boys opening up their Christmas books each night. Sharing kindness as North Pole Ninjas (love this holiday book!!) is bringing much joy to our days.
Sounds like a fun book! I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for sharing!
I’m learning to use my instant Pot!
Something bringing me joy right now is: Christmas cards in the mailbox from friends. Real, actual mail. 🙂 <3
Melanie Mixon says
Thanks! Great ideas here.
Mary Bushling says
I’m looking forward to my older 2 children being off from school in the next two weeks so we can spend time together baking cookies, laughing and making gingerbread houses together. We have 4 children. I love how they get really excited about Christmas and this time of year. I am really into reading your blog right now and using recipes for my IP as I am a newbie making things in it. I want to thank you for your videos as they are very useful for me. I love this post. It has some awesome ideas to make. I pray and hope you and Marie are reunited with your family where your meant to be very soon. I had a placental Abruption (bled out profusely) in June and almost lost my newest son and my life. We then had a fight with long term jaundice in Jack and inability to nurse at first. The hospital stay was traumatic to say the least But by God’s grace we are here and Jack is healthy as can be and nursing like a champ. I can sympathize with the fear you must have felt bringing your newborn back into the hospital. I’m just happy your nearly home.
Thank you for sharing your story Mary. That must have been so scary. Glad you are both healthy and well now!
Heather C says
Wow! Thank you for the time it took to share this! I always have at least one “takeaway” from your posts! Praying for dear Marie and the rest of your family.
Thanks for the opportunity! You have been amazing keeping us updated throughout this journey with Little Marie! Merry Christmas!
Donna Hawkins says
Every year at Christmas time, my daughter and I make Christmas cookies… A lot of Christmas cookies! These are packaged up and given away to residents who live in a retirement home near me. I am so happy to hear that you will all be going home To enjoy your Christmas season ?
What a wonderful tradition!