Thought it would be nice to dedicate a page to Family Traditions. Holidays are always such an important part of family gives us a reason to celebrate the time of season, eachother, and surround ourselves in family traditions, some of which you grow up with and carry on with your own families and some you create on your each holiday approaches, I will add a bit about our traditions and would love to hear about yours!!!

New Year's

Valentine's Day

St. Patrick's Day

I usually start decorating for Easter, right after St. Patty's Day.  It is the first sign of spring to me.  I love the excitement that Easter brings with it for the kids. We do focus on the true meaning of this holiday, both of our children know exactly what Easter is all about, but we also let the Easter Bunny be part of our celebration.

The kids set out their special Easter baskets on the dining room table for the bunny to fill.  They also set out the eggs that they decorated, so the bunny can hide them for an early morning hunt.  The Easter Bunny usually brings them books, games, and a small chocolate bunny for their baskets.  After they check out their new goodies, we get dressed for church.

We love our church and since Billy leads the worship band, it plays a huge part of our lives.  I am so thankful that we have a place of worship that our children can grow up in and learn it.  The true meaning behind this holiday is truly something to celebrate!  We are so blessed to have a God that would sacrifice all just for us!

We usually plan a ham dinner with all the traditional fixings.  This Easter, we ended up doing snacks and never got to the big dinner part and kind of enjoyed it, so it may be a new tradition to keep food simple and leave even more time to focus on family and our blessings.
Father's Day
The kids and I begin preparing for Father's Day by making homemade gifts. This usually incorporates, paints, markers, photos, glue, usually gets messy, but is FUN and creative for the kids. Billy has "everything", so presents are not normally a part of this holiday...just the special personalized gifts from the kids, and a card or small gift from me. This holiday is just an day when we take time to focus on Dad, letting him choose how to spend the day. We go to church, watch him play in the band, and since he loves to BBQ, he picks what to cook and we hang by the pool and relax. It is a great way to spend the day since he works so much. Happy Daddy Day !!!

Fourth of July
This is a true day to celebrate...America's Birthday! In the years past, we tried to do as many patriotic activities as possible...parades, carnivals, concerts, and firework displays. We realized that we spent much of our time waiting in traffic, standing in line, spending money, and getting worn out! This year we started a new, less stressful tradition of watching the St. Charles fireworks from Diana's traffic, crowds, lines, or porta potties! Front row view from her front yard followed by grilling, swimming, setting off our own little display of fireworks, and just enjoying eachother's company! We will never take for granted that as we are enjoying our day, there are service men & women fighting to keep our peace and freedom...Thank You and may God continue to bless America !!!

October... time to decorate with spooky gourds, carve pumpkins, visit local farms, hayrides, pick apples, and get lost in corn mazes...what's NOT to love about Autumn?  The beautiful leaves, the approaching holidays, getting to dress up in costumes...oops, I mean getting to dress your "kids" up in their favorite costumes!!! 

Growing up, my parents would let me have Halloween parties, we'd invite everyone in the class, haunt up our house, bob for apples, and make bowls of mystery mush to let us kids feel around and try to guess if they were eyeballs or brains between our fingers.  Mom and Dad would dress up to scare us or make us laugh.  My parents dressed up for as long as I can recall...looking back, I guess just because they were the oldest parents of ANY of my friends didn't stop them from making sure we had a good time!

When we moved from the lake four years ago, I had never been "trick-or-treating" in a neighborhood before...just to the mall or at school.  I absolutely LOVE to take the kids around our subdivision.  The neighbors know them and make up personalized goody bags for them filled with candy and toys.  We start out pretty early since the kids are little and that lets them collect plenty of candy and still get back in time to sit on our front porch to give out candy to all the other little trick-or-treaters!  My kids bring home their candy, dump it all out on the table to admire, pick 10 pieces, then put all the rest back into the candy bowl to give away.  They love to give it out to the other kids and that works out perfect for us too! 

As I mentioned before, I love the fall!  I remove the "spook" part of the house decorations and leave the pumpkins, straw, and warm colors like the leaves.  I start planning a menu way ahead...We invite family and friends and have a very typical turkey dinner.  We brine our turkey the night before and serve it with stuffing, potatoes, sweet potatoes covered in little marshmallows, sweet potatoe casserole (thanks Sis!), pecan and pumpkin pies, along with fresh cranberry sauce and warm yeast dinner rolls.  We say our blessings and what we are thankful for. If family visits, we play games and watch football.  If it is just us, we drive to go see the Christmas lights at Fort Zumwalt park and then start the Christmas decorating of the house Thanksgiving night.  The kids love to unpack and hang their special ornaments on their tree!  Regardless if we have a houseful or not, we relax, and just be thankful for the many blessings God has put into our lives.

My Mom was the head of the family and a wonderful hostess, baker, and cook, so the holidays, literally came together because of her. Christmas was never just a holiday, but more of an entire season that started the day after Thanksgiving and lasted into the New Year. Mom loved Christmas soooo much...decorating the entire house, several huge trees, putting up all the lights, baking cookies, making candies, and singing carols ALL the time! (which used to embarrass me!)

Christmas Eve, I always waited anxiously, literally watching out the window, for family to arrive. We opened all the presents from the family and had appetizers and desserts that night. It was always a party when we all got together. Then, of course, the whole waking up to presents from Santa, followed by Christmas dinner around noon. Very typical dinner with all the fixings. It was always sad when the celebration ended and everyone packed their bags and headed home. It would seem so QUIET.

Even now, having my own family, I continue most of the traditions I grew up with. We have introduced some new ones and changed things up a bit. We still start the season right after Thanksgiving. I must have inherited the excitement factor from my Mom, because I LOVE this holiday still like a little kid! The kids and I go digging out special ornaments and decorating everything, while poor Billy pack-mules everything for us! I am a planner, so I immediately start thinking about the dinner menu and what cookies and candies to make.

Although we have most of the holidays at our house, Christmas is usually kept low-key, as far as having company come. Since Billy and I have both lost our parents, we really focus on the kids, which does mean that Aunt Sissy "has" to stay the night...the kids wait for it all year!

Christmas Eve day we celebrate by visiting a local nursing home with gifts of hand-packaged sugar cookies. We just go to visit. They love seeing the kiddos all dressed up in their Christmas makes a great ice-breaker to start conversations. Afterwards, we head home to have snacks, appetizers, and sweets by the fire. We started saying a "thank you" prayer before opening presents. The kids get their gifts from Aunt Sissy (which are awesome- she really spoils them) and then a little one (pajamas or a book) from us. We settle in early to wait for Santa...Billy reads "the night before Christmas" book and the kids put out cookies, milk and carrots for the reindeer before bed.

We always have everything ready when the kids wake up. The camera is rolling and out they come to see what wonderful things have been left for them. The kids make up their letter/wish list for Santa with no more than 3 items. So far, the items have been easy for Santa to bring and the kid's have never been disappointed! Then we spend the day (in our pajamas, sometimes), playing with new toys and making our Christmas dinner. We have a prime rib roast (thanks again to my sister-the meat bringer) with sauteed veggies and salad for dinner.

When it is over, a tiny bit of "sad" still comes over me. I must admit, the quiet never comes, and for that, I am ever so grateful.  Then...I start planning Blake's birthday that is ONLY two weeks away !!! :)