Family Photos, Bear Hunts and Being Present

Point of View: You’re sitting on the couch with the children and your husband, snuggled under blankets, watching cartoons and enjoying the colorful glow of a Christmas tree.

This is in fact my current view. And what a glorious sight at that! I’ve got the winter edition of Magnolia magazine on the arm of the couch next to me, my two youngest children watching cartoons snuggled underneath a blue and white plaid blanket and Chase is watching his own show at the other end of the couch. This couch is nowhere near big enough for all of us, but somehow were making it work! Bradley is in his own room watching cartoons and enjoying peace from his siblings. Can’t blame him.

The morning started off slow. Chase left way earlier than I was willing to wake up on a Saturday morning in order to go sit in the deer woods. Side note: Does anyone else say “deer woods”? My friend’s husband makes fun of us when we say it, but like, it just makes sense you know? Also, it was 18 degrees and that’s a hard pass for me! My mom came over to visit for a while and she brought a box of donuts with her. The kids were thrilled!

After lunch and Owen’s nap, we got everyone ready for family pictures. This was the first time we have had any sort of family photos done and I am already impatiently waiting to see them. The previews were incredible! It actually took a bit of bribery to get Addie to cooperate-she was shy and unwilling to smile for a stranger, until the promise of 3 prizes! The backdrop was an old barn on the photographer’s property, and it was beautiful! The photos are very candid and fun, capturing who we are as a family which I really appreciate! So much easier and way less awkward than being posed for the perfect shot (though sometimes those pictures are necessary!)

After family photos, we went to Bass Pro to see Santa himself! Bass Pro is hands down my favorite place to see Santa Clause by the way. Not a single tear was shed, we got a super cute photo, candy canes, and an ornament that Owen assumed to be a ball. Thankfully it was only plastic because it stood no chance against the concrete floor! Anytime we go to Bass Pro we have to visit the fish tank and look at every animal on display. The mountain lion was one of Owen’s favorites, but he couldn’t tell if it was alive or not and would not take his eyes off of it. Then we sang the “Going on a Bear Hunt” song while looking for the black bear hidden in the tree.

Addie wrote and mailed Santa a letter for him to read when he gets back to the North Pole.

Mom tip: I highly recommend playing fun games and going on animal “hunts” through the store to keep kids entertained while your husband checks out the hunting stuff!

After a quick (and not at all cheap) trip through chick-fil-a, we changed into comfy clothes and well, here we are. At the moment my phone is charging so I grabbed the new Magnolia magazine that came in the mail a few days ago. I always put off reading them, waiting for the “perfect time”, as if there is such a thing. Especially with kids. But since I couldn’t waste time scrolling away (an unfortunate favorite pastime of mine), I finally cracked open the magazine.

I just felt a sudden rush of inspiration, as JoJo is so brilliant at providing for me. This copy is about Presence and how to live each day fully invested in every moment, big or small, marvelous or mundane. Honestly, this word has surfaced multiple times this year for me.

I have such a deep desire to be present with my children and husband, to slow down and experience the world with all my senses and allow myself to live physically in the moment instead of trying to perfectly document it in a photo.

With the holiday season here, I am deeply leaning into all of the traditions, memories, experiences and relationships that make this season so magical and joyful. I don’t want to be swept up in all of the rushing and bustling, going from one place to the next without stopping to take off my shoes, look someone in the eye and have a true conversation first. I am a gift-giver. I love finding the perfect gift for people and I love wrapping them up and seeing them under the tree. But this year I want to give people more of my time, my attention and my love first. Instead of worrying about finding the best deals and cutest wrapping paper. Those things are fun, but relationships are my goal this year.

I’m also super excited to invite some traditions back into our family-decorating Christmas cookies, building a gingerbread house, seeing the Christmas lights, watching movies together-to name a few. Holidays can be busy, yes, but I refuse to let them be stressful and consume the joy I have always thrived in this time of year.

What about you?

What are some traditions you love to do with your own family? Are there any new ones you’ve been wanting to start?

Do you feel a need to slow down and be a little more present in your life?

That’s all I’ve got for tonight, friends. The little one and I are ready for bed! In case I don’t get to tell you later this week, I hope you have a great Thanksgiving! And if this holiday season looks different for you, if it’s hard, uncomfortable or painful, please know that I am so sorry and I am praying for you.

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