Traditions: Our Annual Family Yearbook

October 1 hits the books and most people think about things like fall, leaves, pumpkins, soup, Halloween, etc. But me? I think CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have a little Buddy the Elf in me….

It’s my favorite holiday. But what I’m finding as I grow older, what I REALLY love about it, is that Christmas is the “easiest” holiday to surround with tradition. Let me stop here and say this post is NOT about Christmas. I’m sorry, I’m rambling. It’s about Tradition!

That’s what I love about all holidays. Doing the same things each year that are full of meaning and specific to our family gives us something to look forward to and something to be excited about each year. This got me thinking last year about how I can do a better job as a mom of celebrating All times of life with my kiddos. Traditions don’t just need to be for Christmas. (The Johnson Family taught me that!)

I really believe that it is important to live out celebrating all things in life with grateful hearts both individually and with other people in your life. I’m only further convinced after reading an amazing book about gratefulness called 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Mourning with those who mourn and rejoicing with those who rejoice is an important lesson to learn.

My idea ended up taking the shape of a yearly family photo album. I got the idea from my best friend here in St. Louis, Amy, who has been making these for years for her family. It’s the same idea as a class yearbook for school, but in family form. I take it month by month (instead of grade by grade) and I write journal notes about all that we did. I write about sad things (like family members who pass away etc.), I write about happy things (like babies and birthdays!), I just write the truth!

It takes me a long time to do and is most certainly a labor of love, so I use Shutterfly to help speed the process up. I upload my pictures sometimes monthly, sometimes quarterly, and I work on my book a little bit at a time all year long. That way I’m not rushed and freaking out trying to remember things from January the year before in November or December. I also store my photos in my computer by month to help jog my memory of when things happened. In combination with this blog and Facebook, I have a pretty helpful way of putting our life into a hard-book photo album!

Last year, my book was something crazy like 75 or 80 pages. Most books only come with a standard 20-25 pages, so yes, I added each of those pages at a little less than one dollar per page. But! With all my coupons I think I paid maybe $75.00 total for my book. It might have been even less than that. I have a hard-bound, full color book of our whole life one year at a time! My favorite thing about this new “tradition” is that my kids love to get the book out (I keep it down at their level) and look at it and laugh and remember our life together. It’s such a treasure! It does help them remember things they might not have otherwise remembered too.

So now, as we are at home or out and about throughout the year doing things together, even if it’s just a busy Saturday at the Home Depot (he he he he he….), I remember and think to myself, “This will make a GREAT picture for our family photo album this year!” and I even try to include pictures of MYSELF in there. It does help you realize that you are not in many pictures when you are putting a book together and see that you are always the one BEHIND the camera rather than in front of it. I’m working on that…

Anyway, I have lofty dreams of years and years of these books lining my book shelves. And if we ever have a fire or loose a book, it would suck, but I can order another one. And that makes me super happy. I hope one day to generously laugh with my kids’ friends and gulp, significant others, about our life in color,  hard bound books. Sigh….

Do you have any fun family traditions like this that you do to remember and celebrate your life? Please share with me!

‘Round the House in September

School has been in full swing since the first week of August. I have enjoyed a different routine with Cooper back in school and just Cecelia and Chase at home. I do get a little bored sometimes and I miss the go-go-go-think-later attitude of summer, but I’m working through that.

I am pretty sure I didn’t clean my house all summer. When I say “clean” I mean organize though. I cleaned it. I just kept throwing stuff in the wrong place. As I said above, my state of mind went something like this over the summer, “I don’t care how messy the house is, I only have a small window of time to enjoy the day and there will always be time to clean”.

So in August I pretty much wound up my summer activity loose ends (more playing minus one kiddo) and in September, I stayed home and tried to deal with the chaos I left for myself many, many moons ago. Chaos to me by the way, is towels in the wrong spot, toys in the wrong drawers, paperwork unsorted and lying in piles in various locations etc.

It was lovely to watch Cecelia continue to order her day into a more identifiable schedule. Chase plays so great by himself and is very good at occupying himself without needing me to hover over him.

September didn’t end up having a lot of photos because of this,but here are some fun pictures of us just around the house.

First, did I mention we finished painting the boys room FINALLY?

Look! All the walls are the SAME color! Mmmm…Mark Twain Oak….

We also FINALLY decided on some tile for the shower in our master bath!

TA DAAAAAAAAAA! We chose the grey penny round tile on the left.

Now we just have to get a whole bunch of supplies to float the tile and put it up (grout and all that stuff too). Sigh. I hope to have my shower by Thanksgiving. And I will give many, many thanks….

Our friends, the Crawford’s drove from Washington State all the way to Georgia and then South Carolina! They are moving across the country for Jacob’s job at Amazon. It was SO FUN to have them stay with us. Their son, Liam, is just a few weeks older than Cecelia.

it was bed time for the babies. so we all continued to talk and tried to get the babies to just go to sleep 😉
Baby Daddies!
The Crawford Crew!

We also enjoyed a visit with Doug Butte! Sadly, Doug is not in any of my pictures. But we seriously had fun at Five Guys with him. No…seriously.

eating outside with hyper little boys is good
This is what Cecelia did….

Chase worked on some lovely artwork:

by Chase

And Cecelia grew, and grew, and grew! I have so much fun dressing this little baby up. She’s a willing participant (for now) so I take full advantage of this.

she fell asleep, toys IN hand

so smiley!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chase’s FAVORITE thing to do is cuddle with his sister. It’s so adorable

I know, it’s off the charts cuteness, isn’t it?

Now, some of our friends have teased us by saying, “You know, you DO have two other children in your home, right?”.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha, yes, yes we do know that. And you know what? We did this same thing to each of them when they were little. We were just as infatuated with each of our babies in their time. Everyone gets a turn. It’s just Cecelia’s turn. 😉

Oh! And! Cooper lost both of his front teeth! Technically, this happened in October, but we’ll put it here.

All he wants for Christmas!