Sabotaging the “Big Days’

Jen Hatmaker knows her stuff when it comes to adoption. And I was so relieved when she posted this blog about big events/holidays and behavior. I have come to dread the holidays or big events because I know we will have lots of anxiety, sadness and confusion. With all those feelings come big behavior issues. And it’s just so exhausting! I do like her ideas of keeping things simple and not drawing out events. I definitely think those help. Our main coping technique is to not expect great behavior or attitudes. We let things slide that we wouldn’t normally. At the same token we still show our consistent rules and consequences. We prepare ourselves for a lot of crying, whining, and just general acting out. I’m sure that Christmas will be a nightmare. Like Jen says, “On Christmas morning, behavior turns insufferable over the smallest thing, over nothing. The “who got more” tally is in full effect (Ben particularly struggles with scarcity). The six thoughtful, loving presents are discarded for the one unreasonable, outrageous thing she didn’t get. We will absolutely hear: “This is the worst day OF MY LIFE!!” (We hear this regularly on Big Days.) She will end up crying in her bedroom, devolving into shame: “I am the worst girl! I am on the naughty list! I ruined Christmas! I’m giving all my presents away!” I feel so frustrated that I sometimes snap, making it all worse. Ultimately, I dread Big Days altogether and while she is thinking she is the worst kid (bless her), I am thinking I am definitely the worst mom.” Solidarity in numbers moms, we can do this together!


I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas!

I’m over being in the sad/mean mom/exhausted with life phase. I don’t know if it is the Fall weather or just trying to look on the bright side of things but I am getting psyched for the upcoming holidays. Maybe it is because this week we finalized all of the Halloween costumes for the kiddos! I love love Halloween and getting them all dressed up. They all picked their costumes without any help from me. I love that they are independent enough to choose and stick with their decision. We will have a witch, a zombie hockey player, a tiger and Rainbow Dash. Granted, Little One dresses like Rainbow Dash on most days. But she will be even more dressed up for Halloween! Links at the bottom of the page to give you some ideas in case you are stuck. Halloween pictures to follow!! *Note: none of the kids like super scary or even remotely scary things. Taking them into the Halloween store to get ideas was just bonkers on my part because of all their automated weird scary moving thingies. The links at the bottom are to give you an idea of what the kids wanted to be but are not their actual costumes. We pieced them together using clothes we already have and much cheaper options from places like Walmart and local thrift stores.*

I am so super excited to celebrate the holidays with our four kids. Looking at new things through their eyes is so fantastic! It will be our first Christmas in Pennsylvania and our first Christmas with our new family. I am guessing we will have snow already on the ground. I definitely miss the South for many reasons but I don’t mind watching the leaves change colors or having appropriate weather for the seasons!! I’m so used to wearing short sleeve shirts and shorts for Thanksgiving that I am glad this year will be more seasonal weather.

I’ve already started to purchase Christmas presents as I find good deals. TJMaxx is one of my favorite places to find good deals on toys and accessories for the kids. I’ve also been watching our local Dollar Tree because, while they sell out of the good things quickly, you can’t beat the price for stocking stuffers and small toys or activities (crafts, stickers, coloring books). I will do a Christmas buying guide like I did last year too because I know when I come across them from other moms they are so helpful! I always find ideas I wouldn’t have considered before.

Here’s to Hump Day! We’ve almost made it through the week!

Zombie Hockey Player:



Rainbow Dash:

Little Red Stocking

This time of year I look to help out children and families however I can… It’s tough all year in shelters and for homeless families but it’s especially rough during the winter and the holidays. One donation I always make is to the Little Red Stocking… See below!




Last Year’s Little Red Stocking Fund gifts helped Children’s Home Society:

Provide care for and services to 15,344 families.

Provide a safe place for 407 children with CHS foster families and find forever homes for 103 children through adoption.

Deliver educational services to more than 10,000 teens, professionals, and parents.

Counsel 104 birth parents.

Assist 1,296 families interested in adoption.



2,500 children are waiting to be adopted.

9,000 are living in foster care.

14,000 children are removed from their families annually.

550 age out of the system each year with no family support.

A Toddler Christmas

It’s about that time of year again where I start to make my lists for Christmas. We have a lot of people to buy for/make gifts for, so I like to start early. I find my child to be the hardest. In-laws are a close second. We have fun making teacher’s gifts and neighbor gifts, but buying for my own daughter is hard. We started a gift-giving tradition for her first Christmas of the following:

1) Something You Want

2) Something You Need

3) Something You Wear

4) Something You Read

I did not make this up, I don’t know the origin but I think it’s so smart! We are blessed that there are many people who give gifts to our child over the course of the holidays. Even small gifts from her great-aunts, three sets of grandparents, three sets of great-grandparents, aunt and uncles, and family friends can really pile up. We are appreciative of all that we receive. For us, Christmas is not all about gifts, but we were drowning in toys last year. I try to save some for her to open at a later time but many gifters prefer that she open her presents in front of them. So it makes Christmas way over the top. She doesn’t expect it and she doesn’t need it. We do lots of fun activities over the holiday season and we donate our time and money throughout the year. So here is a little guide of my own ideas that would fulfill the above gift-giving tradition for toddlers in your life. A toddler Christmas gift-guide, if you will. I would estimate you can find ideas for one-year olds, two-year olds and three-year olds depending on their preferences and maturity! Also, if you are like me and don’t mind searching for things on eBay, craigslist, Black Friday sales or local consignment sales, you can pick up big-ticket items for Christmas and save  money for other gifts you have to buy on your list!

Something You Want:

Train table and trains


-see Amazon for brands like BigJigs and Imaginext

Little Tikes Outdoor equipment (many can be found for cheap on craigslist)

little tikes slide

-something like their slide, tball set, basketball hoop or swing



-We love our Vtech Innotab

Music table

activity table

Fisher price zoo

zoo talkers

Something You Need:

Educational item like puzzles or string cards

Backpack or lunch box for school

Big kid sheets or towels

Musical instruments, like this one from Melissa and Doug


Something You Wear:

For us, I like to stock up on the next summer’s staples at the end of the season when everything is on clearance. Then it’s fun to give as Christmas presents, when in the dead of the winter you can get excited about an upcoming vacation or weekend away to someplace warm!

Bathing suit

Swimsuit coverup

Fun underwear for potty training

Babylegs legwarmers–really great brand that grows with your child


Trumpette socks–cutest little socks and tights you could ever imagine, and sometimes TJMaxx and Home Goods carry them!


Something You Read:

This is the most individual, as some kids love board books with flaps, some love texture and some toddlers are okay with picture books. I’ve tried to incorporate some of our favorites in each category.

Llama Llama books

Sandra Boynton books

Eric Carle books