Once Upon a Crafty Time { a Stocking Story}

stockings

Once upon a time, I used to be known as a creative crafty person. I still fall into the creative category, but I jokingly said when I was pregnant with the twinnies, that they were draining all the craftiness outta me!

And I honestly think they kind of did.

Not that I don’t have a creative moment here and there. I do. And I still create and dream and design and plan out projects, just not like I used to. And most of that creative energy it seems is focused towards the kitchen with baking and cooking, along with taking photos of my kids, writing, and house renovation stuff. ┬áMore recently, though, I have been adding in some fun craft time with the littlest ones when the bigs are at school.

In my once upon a crafty person time, I used to sew jammies for my older two kiddos, starting when my oldest was 1 year, EVERY christmas. I loved it. Sometimes they were christmasy, sometimes just something they liked a lot and were interested in like guitars, owls, etc.

Last year was the absolute last year I decided I would do that. Because there are four of them now. And they keep growing, which means new patterns have to be drafted or bought….and well, I no longer have a dedicated sewing and crafting room to myself. So yeah, just no. It became more hassle than fun and I had to start in like October and my kids would surely grow between the time I started and finished them. As much as I once loved making them, I decided it was time to let this tradition go. At least for the time being.

{Even though my oldest STILL wants me to make him some….this year though, he agreed to let me surprise him with actual store bought ones}

I’ve become really good at hunting for awesome things and clicking the “buy now” button when I see a great deal or find an awesome handmade item that would be great. And I am all about supporting small biz and mamas and dads in the handmade community.

With all that being said, this year I did manage to pull out enough craftiness to design and make our new family stockings.

It was time and something I’d been wanting to do for a few years now. Especially for my oldest girl.

You see, our last set of stockings? With the exception of adding two more when we found out the twins were to join us, they had been picked out and bought for a different family.

{stay with me….let me explain}

When I had chosen them, we were still in the adoption process and were literally waiting for the call to go back to Russia and complete the adoption of a child we’d already met and fell in love with. She had been expected to join us before Christmas of that year, so I wanted to have a stocking for her.

Well, Christmas came and went, and we were still waiting. It wasn’t until 5 months later, we’d learn that she was never officially going to join our family.

{You can read more about our adoption story HERE}

So, the next holiday season was approaching, and fearing the same would happen, I couldn’t bring myself to pick out a different stocking. I convinced myself, since it had never been used, that surely it would be OK for our newest family member to use. So we did.

By the time we’d arrived back home on Thanksgiving Day that year, and hunkered down in our little family cocoon….I’d never gotten to picking out a new stocking….so we used what we had.

I didn’t think it’d bother me. And that year we were too in the beginning trenches and post adoption emotions to really think about it, so I packed the stockings away with the rest of the Christmas things that year and didn’t think much about it.

Until…..

The following year when I took the stockings out, I burst into tears. I was caught completely off guard by my emotions. I felt devastate and heart-broken all over again.

{Sidenote: this is something I know will never go away. Loss is loss….I will always miss this child. Always.}

We used those stockings that year, but I could hardly ever look at them. And, honestly, I felt so stupid about being so emotional about it.

The following year I decided I’d make some! Uh…yeah, that was a comical thought. I had itty bitty baby twinfants…..totally didn’t happen. And we’d decided to put the house up early-ish the next year, so we hardly did anything for Christmas decorating that year.

Next year. I was determined to make them!

{I’ll save you a long story there….didn’t happen}

This year, I decided I was going to set out early in the year and get to work on them. I had designed them with each family members personality in mind, searched pinterest for fabrics and ideas. Decided, at one point, I was nuts and should just go and find some that would be perfectly acceptable.

Told my husband I should totally just find a handmade shop and buy them. Oldest overheard and pleaded I make them.

{he really likes mama made things…}

I had found this awesome matryoshka fabric the year before that I’d snatched up and planned to use for Sunshine girl.

This year. I was determined. It was GOING TO HAPPEN.

I really wanted a brand new especially made JUST FOR HER stocking for my Sunshine girl. She deserved it.

SO. FINALLY, I decided on the design, found the fabrics, found an awesome and easy to follow free stocking pattern {found HERE}, ordered fabric and got started.

I did a little chunk here and there like an assembly line.

My goal was to have this accomplished BEFORE Thanksgiving. And I finished BEFORE Halloween!!

{I’m honestly still in shock about it}

When I finished my Sunshine girls, I cried.

{caught off guard by those emotions again….}

I love love LOVE that she has one. JUST FOR HER!

And my kids? The oldest ones anyway, LOVE that they are mama made. I thanked my oldest for encouraging me to make them. I’m really glad I did.

And I love that each year, no matter the crazy, they will always have something handmade from their mama in the form of their stockings.

{the rest of the handmade love will have to come from all the awesome handmade greatness shops out there}

Do you try to add a little handmade into your holiday gift giving?

Keeping It Simple At Christmas

The holidays are literally around the corner. And here I am, once again, feeling a little behind and slightly overwhelmed at ALL THE THINGS that need attending to.

And last year at this time, with twin infants, and all the to-do’s and parties and holiday things and shopping and choir performances and all the in betweens…by the end of the holiday season I felt defeated and utterly exhausted. And I’m thinking that is simply not how it’s supposed to be. At least not to that extent.

So I vowed to take it all back this year. To take Christmas and family time back and make it a priority.

Not that all the get togethers aren’t fun, but sometimes {most times} it’s just TOO much.

Last year we decided not to get a tree. Which was hard, but with the babies being so little, and the two older ones with so many things on their own calendars, and then us deciding we’d be putting the house up for sale in the new year, we chose to forego the crazy and try to just enjoy the time we could.

And it was still slightly chaotic.

And this year will have it’s fair share once again of chaos, but I am determined to keep it in check. I am embracing the simple and being OK with saying NO.

And not having to explain myself. I don’t need to apologize for choosing family time and less chaos over all things sparkly with frosting on top.

{although, frosting is tasty}

This year, we are getting a tree. It’s a tradition we love and my big kids really missed it last year. In anticipation of it, I bought some “shatter proof” ornaments on sale last season and have them ready and waiting to be used this year.

Funny thing is, Christmas trees and toddlers don’t exactly mix. And I am just hoping to keep my youngest son from shattering the “shatter proof” ornaments. If they survive him, then I will be thoroughly impressed with their “shatter proof” claims!

Taking it all back. That is the plan.

The other day, my husband and I sat down and talked about what we REALLY want out of the season. What is the MOST important to us, and to our kids. And then we chatted with our oldest two about things. What do THEY want out of this. What are some of their favorite traditions and maybe something they’d like to add? Or take away?

I think it’s important to include them in the planning. We have a slightly unique set up with two kiddos in elementary school, and then twin toddlers who are pretty clueless to all the “traditions” for now. But, some things might not mesh too well with the twinnies schedule, but we cannot discount what the older two would like either.

It’s definitely a balance we are striving for this year. And it’s not going to be easy.

We also have to consider our oldest daughter and her special needs that don’t always allow for certain events or locations that the rest of us enjoy. Large crowds and loud noise and looong lines…NO THANK YOU.

We’d all be tearing our hair out. It wouldn’t be fun for any of us.

So, we have to evaluate all the things and decide which ones are worth it and which ones we can do without. And making sure everyone gets to do something they really enjoy, even if that means a smaller scale activity of it.

Like I said, it’s a balance.

I think it’s also OKAY to re-evaluate year to year….especially when your kiddos are younger. And I am learning to be OKAY myself with letting things change. What was once fun to the under 5 crowd, maybe not be to the over 10 crowd. And that’s okay. Some traditions are long term and awesome, and others have their time and it might not be but for a short time.

So, we wrote a list. This year, things that matter the most to us are:

-Advent {this is a long-term one that we all love}
-a REAL christmas tree
-decorating outside
-SIMPLE decorations inside {twin toddlers= SIMPLE}
-going to see christmas lights
-cookie decorating
-hot chocolate and favorite holiday movies
-baked french toast for Christmas morning {hubby’s request}
-opening Christmas cards as a family
-simple holiday crafts {oldest child’s request}
-Christmas Eve service at church, followed by simple dinner at home and FAMILY time
-stocking “hope notes” {a long-term tradition we’ve done for several years now}
-baking Russian tea cookies and making peirogies (and some other simple things) for New Years celebration {for my oldest daughter}

It’s enough. And simple and family focused. This is just a rough list, but it works for us. We might add to it or change it up a bit, depending on how things are going.

{Oh, and there will definitely be random dance parties to our favorite Christmas tunes}

But, I like this list. And there are still some holiday performances and get togethers tossed in there, but it’s more manageable this year. At least that is what I am hoping!

What are some of your absolute favorite holiday traditions and memories?