Where I’ve Been: Christmas Edition

I haven’t been writing much the past month. Despite trying not to go overboard with extra Christmas activities, December always seems to fill with extra baking, more time shopping (but thank goodness for online shopping!), and scrambling to finish Christmas cards. My father-in-law and my parents were able to visit around Christmas day, so there was time to be spent with them. Also, Babykins finally got 3 teeth this past month. We’ve had some rough nights as she works on pushing those bad boys through, so several days this month have been “Mommy Zombie” days.

Don’t get me wrong–I’m not resentful of any of these things. Well, I could probably do without the sleep withdrawal, but dealing with teething is just a right of passage in parenting (and it’s not like Babykins is having a good time). But I know I have limited time to do my fun stuff. In December, Christmas takes much of that time and blog writing takes a break.

We’re now in the midst of our “3 trips in 3 weeks” saga. Life doesn’t slow down just because the calendar flips over to January. However, I am hoping to return to writing on a semi-regular basis. Our travels will bring plenty of experiences for me to write about–my first time single parenting in a hotel, Babykins’s first funeral, and Babykins’s first plane ride are a few examples. Plus, our second annual parsonage open house is on the calendar for later this month and I sincerely doubt I’ll be able to hide in our bedroom this year. How will I survive?!

I hope you all had (and are having) a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


O Christmas Tree, How Lovely Were Your Branches

My father-in-law is working on downsizing his house, so he gave us his Christmas tree. We set up our “new” tree today. The cats lost no time trying to destroy it. In less than an hour, one of them managed to bend half of the lower branches.

Now we’re working on cat-proofing our Christmas tree.

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Cats and kids make a classy Christmas almost impossible. That’s okay, I’ve never been one for classy.

On the bright side, now the tree is also baby-proofed.


Is It Easter Yet?

Christmas Day has come and gone and pastors take a breather before the chaos of Lent starts.

At least that’s what I always assumed what happened.  Then I looked at January.

Apparently there is a small window of rest after Christmas Day and we used it to go see family.  While visiting family is important, it’s also not restful (especially when traveling with a baby.  I tried explaining to Babykins that we were going on vacation, but she continued wanting to eat and needing diaper changes).  Then I took a closer look at our January calendar and realized that my husband starts his full schedule of Bible studies and meetings on Monday.  Since he has to actually prepare for these things, as well as continue writing sermons for Sundays, he went back to work yesterday.  Additionally, Lent will begin in about 6 weeks.  Our little family will be back on the triage schedule that we had during Advent.

Maybe we’ll take a break after Easter.  Maybe.


Our First “Forever” Christmas

Like everyone else, our December has been busy.  My husband’s schedule has been filled with sermon-writing, shut-in visits, service planning, and Christmas program rehearsals.  I’ve been rushing about purchasing Christmas presents, writing letters, and managing that *little* task of caring for Babykins.

Despite the seasonal chaos, it’s hard not to be a little bit excited by Christmas this year because it’s our first “forever” Christmas.  For the first time in our married life, we are able to say, “Wow, we’ll do the same thing again next year!”

The Christmas tree will go up in the same living room (okay, it won’t be the same Christmas tree because our cats have been set on destroying the cheap $20 tree I bought my sophomore year of college).

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While our Christmas lights on the house look off balanced because we don’t own an outdoor extension cord, it’s no big deal because we can do better next year.

The church’s Christmas program seemed a bit. . .unusual to us, but perhaps next year it will seem a little more familiar.

On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I’ll sit in the same sanctuary that I will sit in next year, hearing my favorite pastor preach. 😉

When it’s time for the Christmas decorations to come down, I will store them rather than pack them for a move.

All of this is made even more special since it’s Babykins first Christmas (even though she may very well fuss all day).

Of course, we have no real way of knowing what God has planned for us, but we’re working on the assumption that we will be here for awhile.  So, even though it doesn’t feel like it yet, we are finally home.

(You know, aside from the idea that we are but strangers here, heaven is our home. 🙂 )

 

 


How to Save Money on Christmas Cards

I enjoy sending Christmas cards.  I’ve mentioned this before, but I find it a nice way to show people that while I’m not consistently in contact with them, I still think about them.  However, there can be no denying that mailing Christmas cards can add additional costs to the already expensive holiday season.

Over the last couple of years I’ve started to develop a system to decrease the cost of sending Christmas cards.  Keep in mind that I’m talking about mailing hard copies, not using an electronic version.  I know some people prefer to save money this way.  However, I know how much I like getting real mail (you know, something besides bills and credit card offers), so I try to continue to send out physical copies of Christmas cards.  If you don’t like getting personal letters in the mail, please let me know and I’ll cross you off my list.  :p

getting Christmas cards

Anyway, here is how I try to cut costs during Christmas card season:

Buy cards 11 months early:  Have you noticed how cheap Christmas supplies are after Christmas?  The weeks following December 25 is a great time to stock up on Christmas trimmings that aren’t perishable.  Either you can buy your cards for next Christmas or you can procrastinate and send your annual card after Christmas.  Either way, you can easily cut the cost of cards in half!  The cost of an individual card can be as low as $0.16.

Christmas shopping

Order basic prints for photos:  I got this idea from my mother.  Every year my mom would line my brother, sister, and me up around Thanksgiving, took our picture several times, and ordered multiples of the best one.  This has only become more cost effective with digital cameras.  For my Christmas card, I simply find a decent picture of my husband and me from the past year and order my prints.  Since prints typically cost $0.09-$0.15 apiece, this helps keep costs down.  This year I found a coupon for 50 free prints off from Shutterfly.com, so my cost for prints came out to be $0.12 apiece–most of that cost was for shipping.

prints

Keep the newsletter simple:  One of my favorite parts about receiving Christmas cards are the newsletters–I love catching up on what people have been doing over the past year!  However, I care more about the content than how the newsletter looks.  Consequently, I print our 1 page, black and white newsletter on plain paper at home.  I’m not sure how much this adds to the total cost, but I figure if my husband is starting to print entire books with our printer (long story), I can print 60 copies of our newsletter.  I estimate it costs about $0.10 apiece.

Plan ahead and save up for stamps:  Whenever we get an ad from USPS, I secretly hope that it’s a coupon for discounted stamps.  Since this has yet to happen, I try to spread out the cost of buying stamps over a couple of months.  This way spending $30 on stamps doesn’t seem like an unexpected blow to our budget.  Still, stamps are the most expensive aspect of Christmas cards, costing about $0.50 apiece.

With these techniques, I’ve found that I’m able to send out Christmas cards for about $0.88 apiece.  That’s not too shabby considering the number of things you can get for less than $1.00!

candy or card

Admittedly, sometimes the candy bar wins.

How do you save money on Christmas cards?