Friday, December 29, 2017

Friday Favorites #40. {The Christmas Recap.}

Christmas is OVER, friends!  Which, in my book, mean this:

(Raise your hand if this is you!)

  I don't know if I'm happy or sad.  I love Christmas SO SO MUCH but let's face it.  It is stressful.  I'm constantly worried if I'm making it "magical" enough for my kids and then wondering if I'm making it too magical and not stressing the true reason for the season enough. 

In my house, it is also stressful making sure the old, senile dog doesn't pee on the gifts under the tree.  And then there's the Christmas cards that need to be addressed and sent, the teacher gifts that need to be remembered, the cookie exchange for the teachers, all the wrapping and the stalking of those tracking numbers for the last minute gifts you bought in hopes that they'll arrive before the big day.


And then let's not forget all the curveball my kids threw at Santa this year.

CHILDREN:  Please note that you CANNOT change the color of the hoverboard you asked for 2 days before Christmas.  #itdoesntworkthatway

But with all that being said, Christmas morning makes it all worth it.  I LOVE seeing my kids' faces on Christmas morning.  They really do think it is magical that Santa came down the chimney, ate their cookies and left them presents from their list.  Being a kid was so awesome.

Our Christmas and the surrounding days were relaxing.  I baked a lot.  And y'all know I hate being in the kitchen.  But I was feeling festive and I knew I'd get to reap the rewards.  ;)

We made sugar cookies to decorate for Santa.

These were Mason's creations.  ;)

And we also made chocolate chip cookies because they are Matthew's favorite.

And I even made Shay's Candy Cane Bars!  Last year, I texted Shay asking which of her Christmas desserts I should make to take over to my grandparents' house for our little get-together.  She suggested these and YUUUMMMMM!!  I love "gooey cake" (or Neiman Marcus bars or Oooey Gooey Butter Cake or whatever you may call it) and posted my recipe a while back about the ones where I throw in chocolate chips.  (here)  These are so similar except with a fun and super festive peppermint twist!

They were so good that I knew I'd have to start making them every year.

Find Shay's recipe here.  The only substitution I made was golden butter cake for the base just because it's my favorite!

On Christmas Eve we went to church.

The boys were clearly feeling giddy about all the excitement of Christmas Eve.  They were being complete goofballs before the service started.  I'm positive that Mason cannot take a normal picture these days without some sort of bribe (or threat).  ;)

After church, we came home and the boys were allowed to open one gift of their choice.  This is all part of our Christmas Eve tradition.  This year they unwrapped boxed sets of Hardy Boys books.  I think they will both love the adventure and mysteries of these books!

Mason got the Clue Book Collection.  (This was take #3 of trying to get a non-crossed eyed, non-staring into outer space, non-goofy-faced picture.)

And Matthew got the Secret Files Collection.  They were both happy.  #hitforsure

We ate dinner (Craig made steaks and we bought ready made sides from Market Street) and then we got in our PJs, and loaded up the car to go look at Christmas lights.

This is my favorite part of Christmas Eve but in all seriousness, it was not magical for me this year.  We got a later start to it than we should have and Craig had to drive across town first to drop something off for someone who needed it the next day.  By the time we got started actually looking at the lights, Mason had to go to the bathroom.  So we had to stop at Walgreens for him to go.  When we got started again the boys were getting tired.

We drove through my FAVORITE neighborhood in Mckinney (Tucker Hill) and I was feeling all kinds of festive with the lights and Christmas music playing!  I was at the peek of my Christmas fun and I didn't want to leave!  I also wanted to start googling some of those houses that were for sale. ;)

And then I realized the boys were asleep and had missed it all and it was like someone had taken the wind out of my sails.  Craig was also ready to go home and I felt like I had been jipped a little on our annual tradition. :(  I was not happy at all.  #reallife 

Of course, as soon as the boys got home they were wide awake again and started running through the house like maniacs.  Where was this energy when we were doing something MOM wanted to do?!  We hurried them off to bed though and they were more than happy to oblige.  They wanted Santa to come!

Among their Santa gifts were hoverboards.  I cannot even begin to tell you the maddening time I had with this company trying to get them here in time.  I'm planning a little review of them for next week.  ;)  I'm also planning a "hit or miss" post about some of the stuff they got for Christmas so tune in next week for that!

Matthew was more excited about getting this book (Wonder) than anything else!  He went to see the movie with a friend the other day and had mentioned he wanted the book for Christmas.  I didn't expect this reaction though!  He started reading it right after we finished unwrapping gifts!

Here's a blurry closeup of this shirt I found here.  It is a picture of Jesus sitting among a bunch of superheroes and saying "And that's how I saved the world."  #loveit  

The shirt itself is pretty stiff so we are washing them a couple of times to get them a little softer.

This Bottle Flip game has seen a lot of action so far.  Mason is a bottle flipping nut.

And both boys got Vivofit Jr's and oh my gosh have they been a hit!!  My kids are trying to out exercise each other, doing all their chores (including brushing their teeth without arguing) and then looking for more stuff to do to earn coins!  It's amazing.  They have never been so helpful EVER.  I love these things!  I even gave them extra coins for big hugs yesterday.  hahaha.

I didn't take a ton of pictures for some reason this year but we video the entire gift opening session every single year with a video camera set up on a tripod.  

The rest of the day was super lazy.  Craig and I both took naps.  Craig took a nap on the couch but I took a legit nap, under the covers, in the bed, for like, 3 hours.  #merrychristmastome

The boys were in and out all day house-hopping with their friends so they were completely entertained.  It was relaxing, super low-key and exactly like all the Christmas Days that I had growing up.

So like I said, I will be back next week for a Hit or Miss post on some of their Christmas gifts!  Some were huge hits and some were straight up duds.

Today we are driving to Texarkana (Texas) to visit my parents.  Tomorrow morning we'll head over to my granddaddy's house for Christmas with all our extended family on that side.  It's always so much fun!  We will leave from there and head back to Mckinney to clean the house and get it ready for our little annual New Year's Eve party the next day!

And I realized I forgot to post our Christmas card here so here it is!  I LOVED it this year thanks to all that color and obviously, the glitter.  ;)

(Yes, my nail polish matches my card!  ha!  It's O.P.I.'s My Favorite Ornament.  So cute for New Years too!)

And before I go, I have to mention this book because I know a lot of you are looking for new ones to read in the new year!

If you love psychological thrillers, you will LOVE THIS!!!

The Last Mrs. Parrish.  This was so so so good.  I am terrible at writing short summaries (or short anything) so go here to check it out. There were some very satisfying twists and turns that kept you going "what?!" the whole way through. Ahhh!  I hated for it to end.  Seriously.  You'll love it.

I listened to it on Audible because I had to get back to work yesterday and the narration was amazing.  So if you are an Audible girl like me, this one is a great one to listen to!

And in case you missed it, the Etsy shop is now open and busy busy again!  Check it out here!  More products being added every week and old favorites are being reordered and restocked!

Have a Happy New Year, friends!!  I'll see you again in 2018!!

Linking up with Andrea, Erika and Narci for Friday Favorites!


Friday, December 22, 2017

Friday Favorites #39.

Happy Friday before Christmas!! 

Today I'm linking up with Erika, Narci and Andrea for Friday Favorites and sharing some of my favorite things from this week!

School is OUT (finally) or at least it will be at 10:15am when we peace out of those class parties! So that's the first part of favorite #1. Part 2 is that Matthew is over his little stomach bug.  He hasn't thrown up since Wednesday night (whoop whoop!) and felt fine all day yesterday but was super bored sitting around at home.

At one point, I walked into the living room and found him doing the stretches and warm-up exercises they do in PE.  He was using his iPad to set a 30-second timer so he could do each exercise for the right amount of time.  And that's his cup of Cheerios next to him.  ???

Jumping jacks.

And again...all I want for Christmas is to be able to have a rug in my living room again.  #olddogs #newrugs #dontmix

After his little workout session, he put his shirt back on and we sat and watched some funny cat videos.  He loves animals and is so tender-hearted.  I think we may have a future vet on our hands.  He perks up whenever I mention that to him.

But all the one-on-one time I've gotten with this cutie over the past couple of days has definitely been a favorite.  I hate that he was sick of course, but loved the extra snuggles.  I'm just so thankful that it came at a time when I could provide all that extra attention.

I just love him.

Eeek!  This came too fast but my Etsy shop is open again!!  HOWEVER, the turnaround time will be 1-2 weeks which means I don't have to jump back in immediately and start stressing again.  My stressful season is over until teacher appreciation time comes around.  ;)

I'll be adding new items to the shop over the next day or two so if you'd like to see what's coming, be sure to follow me @thatinspiredchick on Instagram!

This is my first new addition!  The 20oz skinny stainless tumblers are such popular items that I thought y'all might like these 22oz tumblers as well. These are a little bigger and the lid is black instead of clear but they are still perfect for keeping your drinks cold for 24 hours and your drinks hot for 12.  (Seriously though, who takes 24 hours to finish their drink?  #justsayin)

These, of course, can be personalized however you want.  I put the believe you can design on this one because it's so popular on my water tracker bottles.

But you can also do a name or a monogram.

(This is my favorite patterned vinyl and font Eyes Wide Open)

I also have these in stock in hot pink and will be adding them to the shop today.  I should be getting them in more colors soon!

And in case you forgot, here's a little taste of what else you might be able to find in my shop!

*The new yellow color will be added soon too!  Isn't it cheerful!?!

So hop on over to the shop HERE and you can use the code WELCOMEBACK10 for 10% off!  Offer expires Dec. 24th so think about who you might need to buy for soon (Valentine's Day?  Teacher Appreciation?) and knock out those gifts ahead of time!  Don't be like me and wait until the absolute last minute.  ;)  #biggestprocrastinatorever

On Tuesday night, our Bible Fellowship Group had it's annual Christmas Party and Andrea did a fabulous job (as always) at planning the games!  It's always boys and against girls and "12 Games of Christmas" style.  (Think Minute to Win It)  

This year, the girls DOMINATED and there were some extremely competitive guys who were not too happy.  ;)

We also had terrible lighting for our group pictures but I did my best to lighten it up.

The guys teased us with how we posed for our own picture.  They are a pretty hilarious bunch.  But don't tell them I said that.

And someone put Guys Lose up on the board but one of the guys quickly got rid of that...  #heshallremainnameless  ;)

I LOVE doing life with this group. Is that cliche?  Yeah.  It totally is.  But I don't care.  Because every time we're together it's nothing but laughing until our cheeks ache.  Good times.

If you missed my review on the Fleur De Vie makeup and skincare company from Monday, check it out HERE.  

Thankfully, this stuff did not suck.  Far from it!!  Check out the review!!  #girlpower

And speaking of posts from this week, did you catch my thoughts on Home Alone from yesterday?!  Clearly, I am not alone in this.  ;)

We all know I love funny stuff.  So I dedicated Favorite #5 to all the Christmas funnies.

It was 75 degrees here yesterday so there's this one...

Good news?  The high is 46 today!  #ofcourse

And then there's this one that made me laugh because it's so true!!

At this point, I'll do anything to fill out the gifts under the tree.  Even if it means wrapping toothpaste.  Most of the fun of Christmas morning is unwrapping stuff.  So I'm definitely that mom who wraps every single thing separately just so it looks like there's more stuff under the tree.  This includes socks, underwear and batteries.

And then this one...

I feel like I need to be friends with the person who did this.  It's just genius.

And speaking of genius...

This had me laughing so hard!  I'll be filing this one away.

I am wearing this sweater today so I'll try to update this post with a pic but it's on sale at this very moment and I don't want you to miss it!  Erika posted it the other day and I grabbed it because it looked so cute on her!  But let's be honest.  EVERYTHING looks good on her.  #nofair  #supermodel

Anyway, it is SO soft, so flattering, so cute and so comfortable.  And for only $24, you need this!  Grab it HERE while you can.  I got the black in a size small.  And it's so much cuter than this in person.


I wore it today with my favorite jeans and my red boots to Mason's school party because it has been raining all day!  And Matthew is sick again.  Sigh.  But look how cute the sleeves are!  They are bell sleeves with a slit on the underside.  Love them!

I've been in a binge-watching phase lately so I've only read/listened to a couple of books lately.  Seriously...Family Matters is so much funnier than I remembered.  

But if you are looking for any new books to check out in the new year, make sure you take a look at my reviews from this year!

Books for the new year include:

I remember reading several of the Walsh Family Series10 years ago and loving them.  I want to re-read them in order again this year.  Love Marian Keyes!!  She never disappoints.

So that's it for today!  I hope you all have the best Christmas EVER!!  And if any of you local girls are looking for an amazing Christmas Eve service, please join us at First Mckinney!!  Services will be at 9:15, 10:45, 3:30 and 5:00.

HE is the reason for the season and it is so easy to overlook that sometimes.  I pray that we all stop and really really think about the real Christmas story.  Put yourself in Mary's shoes.  An angel comes to tell you that you'll be giving birth as a virgin to God's son?!  I'm pretty sure I would pass out COLD.  And I can only imagine she's thinking...why me?  Why was I chosen?  What if I mess this up?  What if something goes wrong?  I've got to not only give birth to the son of GOD but I've got to raise him!?! Can you imagine the anxiety she must have been feeling?  But can you also imagine the crazy amount of confidence God had in Mary?  Now THAT would be overwhelming.

But like I've mentioned before, there is a peace that surpasses ALL understanding when you are a believer.  When you have true, unwavering faith.  When I am anxious or stressed or nervous or scared and I ask for that peace and comfort to flood over me...IT DOES.  It is a PHYSICAL response.  And that's how I feel Mary got through all of this. She felt that peace wash over her even though she knew she was giving birth to the Savior of the World.  Can you even imagine?

I can't.

If you aren't a believer already, I beg you to explore it further.  Just let yourself imagine for a minute that your time comes and you pass away...and you find yourself face to face with God himself.  You are shocked and scared and bewildered because you lived your whole life thinking it was just some fairy tale or made up story.  But now He's standing between you and Heaven and you and Hell asking you why He should let you into the gates of Heaven.  And all you're doing is wishing you would have listened to those crazy Christians while you were still alive.  Isn't it worth it to not just write all this off?  To maybe give it a real chance?  Because what if you're wrong?

Jesus is the reason for the season, friends.

Have a very very very Merry little Christmas and I'll be back again next week to wrap up the year.

To follow our Christmas fun, you can find me @amandanall on Instagram and HERE on Facebook.

Big hugs to you all and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!