Bash Prep for NYE 2018

There are many things the Captain and I get wrong with our kids (the further we get into this parenting gig, the more we realize we.know.nothing, Lord help us), but one thing we like about our style is that we try to emphasize experiences over stuff. Trips, talking, and traditions are at the heart of our family. We love taking trips together - local, regional, state, cross-country, international, wherever we can go - we talk straight with our kids about the big stuff and the little stuff in life, and we hold fast to several traditions that are, far as we’re concerned, non-negotiables for lifetime members of Team Wilson.

Celebrating New Year’s Eve at home has always been a thing for Matt and me. In the past 20 years, we may have ventured out once or twice for a wedding or other special event but on the whole, home is where our heart is on December 31st. Over time our “let’s stay home” tradition has morphed into a whole day of fun, games, and the best kinds of surprises. After making a list of generally fun things to do, I separate the items into two primary categories: Daylight and Dark. Then I map it all out chronologically. I think our first year we started around 6pm and now I plan so much we have to start it at 12pm!

I always catch it on social media about not sharing our plans ahead of time, so here are some resources for all you parents out there looking to create your very own stay at home NYE adventure.

  • 2013 (blog post)

  • 2014 (blog post)

  • 2015 (Instagram series)

  • 2016 (Instagram series)

  • 2017 (Instagram series)

  • 2018 ideas (Pinterest board)

Happy planning, celebrating, and memory-making!

What are your plans this year for New Year’s Eve?

Father's Day Hacks

I actually don't know why I used the word "hack" in titling this post. They aren't really hacks at all, they're just ideas. But, I guess, then again, all of the life hacks you read out there are just that...ideas. Meh, whatever. This is the introvert in me. I'd rather sit with you and debate the philosophical nature of the word "hack" than to shoot the breeze about the weather or the sports or something else completely devoid of meaning. I also completely disagree on the singular possessive nature of Mother's and Father's Day punctuations. It is a day for ALL mothers and ALL fathers, therefore it should be plural possessive. Mothers' Day. Fathers' Day. Sigh.

Moving on.

So we love some Father's Day around here. Mostly because we have a daddy in our midst that is all of the wonderful everythings in life. I'm sure you do, too, and that's why you're wondering why it's taking me so long to help you "hack" this Father's Day.

It's actually just going to be a boring list. Boring in nature, not in content, that is.

Presenting........I looked for a drumroll GIF and couldn't find one................

  • Saddleback Leather goods - These things are spensy but lifetime guaranteed, and they look AND smell purely wonderful. The iPad case is the most amazing piece, we think.
  • Kindle - Don't get the Fire, just get the plain Jane, black and white, glare free Kindle e-reader. Upgrade to the 3G so he can access it anywhere in the world and pay to get out of "special offers" so your person doesn't have to deal with ads. Bonus points if you get him a case. This one is my favorite because it has a built in reading light that powers from the device.
  • Luminox watch - Oh, you're not a Navy Seal? I'm sorry, I saw your watch and thought you were.
  • ENO Hammock - He can cast his cares away, worries for another day... The Captain liked the double because he's (his words) "bigger than the average bear."
  • Scott eVest - If you have a man who travels frequently, this eVest will make him so happy. It has all these cool specific pockets, enabling the wearer to go mostly hands-free through security, etc. We saw this on an episode of Shark Tank, and I added it to my sneaky sneaky list of gift ideas for Matt. He LOVES it, and has loaned it out several times to other traveling dads because it is made of 100% pure awesomeness.
  • Dollar Shave Club - The Captain tried out the Dollar Shave Club (think Birchbox or Ipsy for dudes) and liked it a lot. You have some pricing options, but basically you get a razor handle and a box of 4 blades (one brand new blade every week) and they typically add a free item in there with it. He goes with the mid-range, $6 per month option, and that includes shipping. He would like for me to note that the $1 option does not include shipping, therefore it is silly to go with that one. His words, friends. 
  • Birkenstocks - Because they're back, baby!
  • Leather Keychain with Latitude/Longitude Coordinates - I once gave The Captain one of these with some very special African coordinates. It still makes us both smile.
  • Costa Del Mar Sunglasses - I got Matt the Blackfins one year and they are his favorites so far. He says (again, his words) they're for big-headed people. Grande cabezas.
  • Matt says that a car cleaning/detailing gift certificate would also be pretty exciting for lots of dads.
  • Also, anything from or suggested by the Art of Manliness website would also be cool and creative.

And there you have it, friends. Something for all the fatherly dudes in your life. A few are affiliate links, but I tried to be sure and link any Amazon items to only those eligible for Amazon Prime's fast/dependable shipping. Also, he says it's just a post about Matt's favorite things. Yeah, that would have been a much better title...

NYE 2015: Let's do this!

Last year we took our typical New Year's Eve stay-home party to another level, and had just the sweetest and bestest of times together. It was such a lovely night to take a purposeful pause after months of running like crazy and just be talk about our progress last year as individuals and as a family, and how we want to move forward in the next year.

Here's our plan for the Team Wilson's 2015 NYE Party:

  1. 3:00pm-Make coloriffic cake
  2. 4:00pm-Walk/ride around the neighborhood
  3. 5:00pm-Look back to 2014 (Look back over our 2014 on social media pics. Read over last year's interviews and talk about how things did or didn't go as we had hoped. Work on this year's interviews, graciously provided for subscribers on the 30 Handmade Days blog. Check out her 2015 adult and kid versions.
  4. 6:00pm-Dinner: steak, baked potato, salad, fizzy cider, that cake from 3:00 :)
  5. 7:00pm-Fireworks (at 7:00 because we love our neighbors)
  6. 8:00-Burn the tree!
  7. 9:00-Glow stick bath
  8. 10:00-Movie time (AKA, dear Lord in Heaven, please let Sweet Love go to sleep now)
  9. 11:00-Watch whatever is left of NY Rockin Eve
  10. 12:00-Happy new year! Poppers, fizzy cider, kisses all around!

I made a few changes from last year's plan, just to shake it up a bit. Also, each step will be a surprise for the girls, enclosed in ordinary paper grocery sacks. They will get to rip those open each hour.


Happy New Year from ASR! However you choose to safe, friends!

Advent for Orphans

Now, don't go getting all antsy on me with this post. It isn't about skipping Halloween and Thanksgiving, no siree. 'Merica, y'all.

What this post is about is considering a plan for this year's Advent celebration. And since you may need some time to do your own research and order a guide or support tool, it's just not ever too soon to start thinking about that. 

Is Advent new to you? It's a relatively new Christmas tradition for our family, though it is well established in some Christian denominations. 

It's still true that trying to do anything remotely serious with our kids is pretty ridiculous, but we have found that observing Advent with them...especially the candles...helps bring home the anticipation of a holy Christ's arrival into our broken and messed up world. 

I got this Advent to Lent Ascension Wreath from  Ann Voskamp's website . 

I got this Advent to Lent Ascension Wreath from Ann Voskamp's website

Here's an old post with some suggestions for your Advent 2014, and one new resource I wanted to share is this Advent for Orphans calendar made available by Lifesong for Orphans. Each day features a specific prayer for orphans worldwide, and you can go here to read about how this tool has already been helpful to families. It's also a great way to give purposefully to a great organization, though obviously you can opt out of that if you prefer.  

Surprise Par-Tay

So about a week ago I was driving Sweet Love over to The Captain's parents' house to meet up with the rest of Team Wilson for what I thought was going to be a "surprise" family dinner. I say "surprise" because Sassafras may have asked me about a month ago if I would like to have a surprise birthday party. I told her, absolutely, I loved surprise parties...especially the ones I knew about ahead of time. She just nodded her head in serious agreement. 

I guess we'll work on sarcasm when she's like 8 or something. 

So when the big girls were picked up from school by their Gran & Pop and I was told to be at their house at a certain time and that we would probably just have dinner over there, I figured they might be working on cooking up a little dinner and we would have cake and it would be fabulous. 

Only when I actually pulled up, there were way too many cars in their driveway. And there were balloons and lights and a whole group of my favorite people and food and cake and sweet cards and it was all just a tremendously spectacular surprise. I found out that my sweet little Sassypants had been cooking up the whole thing for a while. She made the guest list, planned the menu, specifically picked out balloons that were my favorite color, and picked flowers from Gran's yard to decorate the tables. 

I was told that she had said to a few people that Mommy always plans parties for us but she never gets one (which, for the record, is completely A-OK fine with me...but even I have to admit the preciousness of her little words is pretty high).

How sweet is that cake??? 

Now the menu, my dear friends, is one for the record books. Sassafras made a list of all my "favorite foods," and so that's exactly what we had. It included, but was not limited to:

-brussel sprouts (and you're welcome, friends and family, for being introduced to the deliciousness of the sprout. Gran, I'm real sorry they stunk up your house.)

-sunflower seeds, served in a pretty little square acrylic vase...which were consequently tumped out on the van floor on the way home. And can I just say that is so far from the worst thing that has happened in that van? 

-"steak," which was actually roast because steak is "expensive"

-pickled okra...and my mouth is watering just thinking about it

Also? This preciousness. I mean, bless that Sassafras. Bless her sweet little heart. 

That right there is a sweet little ring shoe, my friends. Not only is it wrapped in purple crushed velvet but ALSO it provides your rings with a stiletto party house of comfort to sleep in. But wait...there's more! ALSO ALSO, there is a secret little drawer in which you can store your tiny little wonderful things. I know you can hardly contain your jealousy. 

The journal is from a sweet and super duper funny friend who knows my love of the written, reflective, comedic word. It contains a daily multiple choice check-sheet entitled "Today's Parental Shortcomings" and also such wonderful words of inspiration such as:

Everybody knows how to raise children, except the people who have them.
— P.J. Rourke

and my personal favorite

Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, ‘Where have I gone wrong?’ Then a voice says to me, ‘This is going to take more than one night.’
— Charles M. Schultz

But seriously though, it was a really fun night and I was truly surprised in most every way. Sassafras definitely has a very nurturing personality (she is the ultimate Big Sister), but the way she planned all the little details just for her just blesses my bones, y'all.