Hawaii memories on video

I make it a goal to put together a short video from every trip we take.  What inspires me most is watching how these videos help our children retain their memories.  Our children can recall moments on vacation as young as 3 years old.  I believe occasionally looking over photos and video is partial to thank for this.  

I often hear people say they want to wait until their children get older to travel so their children can remember the vacation.  I respect this, however, my husband and I have always done the exact opposite, for many reasons. 

First, the only guarantee we have in life is our current moment.  Of course, we need to plan and budget, but make those memories you've been dreaming of happening sooner than later.  Don't wait for the perfect time, because there's really no "perfect time".  

Second, My husband and I believe that these adventures live inside of us and make us who we are, from the very youngest age.  I've watched my 1 year old fall in love with the Colorado Mountains and I've watched my 2 year old fall in love with dolphins.  And through their eyes, I've fallen in love with each and every adventure we've taken.  

Third, it doesn't matter that they won't remember, we will never forget.  There's value in any trip.  Like the closeness it brings, and the little moments my husband and I share adoring our children, and each other.  

Document your adventure.  Then take the time to watch and relive your adventures.  I'll be sharing details soon for those of you curious about our Hawaii itinerary.  

The water and zip line video was shot with my gopro and the rest with my iphone.  

If you are interested in my other short vacation videos you can see some favorites here and here.  

 

travel essentials

travel essentials.  Lovely Matters blog by Heather Walker

I make an effort to pack light traveling as a family of 6.  Isn't vacation a wonderful time to realize we really don't need that much? As long as we have the right tools for the job.

I'm always concerned I'm forgetting to pack the essentials.  This check list is perfect for someone who likes lists and since using it for our last few vacations it's simplified my packing.  Absolutely my favorite packing tool.  

I have been searching for the right travel backpack for a long time and I think I finally found it!  And it's super inexpensive.  Not all women's backpacks have side pockets to hold water bottles and this was essential for me.  It's light weight, lots of pockets, and my favorite part is it opens big with a doctor bag style zipper top.  

In my bag:

I sprayed this Pixi mist on my face at least a dozen times on the flight to Hawaii.

Origins Peace of Mind is a lovely peppermint relief.  It has cured a pressure headache in seconds and I never travel without it.  

Sweet and healthy Apple Chips, dark chocolate and gum

My Fab Fit Fun aloe infused fluffy socks and cozy poncho made for a comfortable flight.  The poncho worked as a blanket for a couple of us and an extra pillow.  I've officially used everything that came in this awesome subscription box!

A good book 

My camera and iphone

My Young Living oils

This lip balm.  

This Malin & Goetz hand lotion was from a hotel and I'm now obsessing over the entire brand.  Full of natural ingredients, vitamins and fatty acids.  

My husband uses this travel pillow that takes up minimal space in his cary on.  And this is the best travel pillow we've ever experienced for our kids and it worked great for me also.  If your child falls asleep it gives you more control on head/chin placement.  

Yes, all that, and several of my kids things, fit in my new travel backpack!


This post contains affiliate links.  The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.  Learn more here.  

 

Welcome 2018!

Lovely Matters blog by Heather Walker

I have high hopes that 2018 will be bright and lovely!  We just came home from vacation and I'll be sharing a few posts about Hawaii that I think will be of interest to you. 

I look forward to a full year of blogging in 2018!  My list is long on what I want to share with you!  I have an entire series in mind about decorating our homes to tell the story of our lives.  I want to share inspiration on how you can be proud of yourself as the family's storyteller.  Per your request, I'll be talking more about what I put into my smoothies and how we are raising tech-positive children.  Spoiler alert, my hubby may even sit in as a guest blogger! 

For me personally, this will be the year of focusing on self care.  The word "Self care" is such a broad and personal thing.  I'm a firm believer that ANYTHING can be self care.  For some it's simply going for a run, or scheduling a coffee date with a friend, or an appointment with a therapist.  The point is, you do you, and encourage others to do what they need with no judgment of shame.  

I started something this month that I've been wanting to do for 10 years.  After 4 pregnancies the hormone Relaxin did my teeth a disservice.  Up until I saw the dentist last month I didn't realize what harm I was doing by letting my teeth crowd into neighboring teeth.  So this was the final push to start me on Invisalign!  I'm one week in and the process is simple with very minimal discomfort.  I love that they come out when I eat so I don't need to worry about avoiding certain foods like braces.  And they are barely noticeable.

Lovely links:

Who wants to join me for a girls night doing this!?

If you don't already follow my sweet friend Ralphie from Simply on Purpose you must check out the beautiful way she parents and shares her knowledge. 

Wondering if I could do closet decluttering for real this year?

Well Mind Body Green just made making dinner sound easier!

How can I not include this speech of the year on my "Welcome 2018" post!  Love Oprah!

January is a great time to start a photo/video project!  Every year I've challenged myself to pick up my Dslr at least once a week and have challenged byself with some video projects.  Last year I slacked on using my Dslr partially because the iPhone is just that good!  But, I love the control I have with my Dslr and I've been missing that.  Without these photo projects, I wouldn't have images like this or video like this.  

speaking of video - couldn't resist making this little GIF of my little guy doing the Hula.  

 

Christmas unplugged

Some memories are saved just for us.  Lovely Matters blog by Heather Walker

For several days surrounding Christmas I took a break from news, social media and basically using all devices for anything other than calling and face-timing family.  It helped slow Christmas down and put the focus on our family and the moments happening right in front of us.  I'm not sure who to quote, but the words "Some of my best moments don't make it to social media" speak to me!  Christmas is one of those memories that feels like it's just meant for us.  That said, I absolutely adore seeing what other people's Christmas look like, but the photos and messages will still be there when we are done celebrating our days of Christmas.  I want to encourage others to find your balance in knowing when it's time to unplug.  It's unique for each of us.  3+ days was right for me... 3 hours may be more fitting for some.  Sometimes I feel as if we are living in a time where capturing our moments with our phones is more important than actually living in the moment with the people next to us.  I'm aware of this, and I strongly feel I must set the example for my children.

When I did turn my computer on the first thing I wanted to do was look at images from around the globe of Christmas.  This was a beautiful photo review of the day.  

Besides our outing to the theater, we spent a lot of time playing new games.  I had no idea Family Trivial Pursuit even existed!  The adults have different cards than the kids so it's actually a challenge for all. We've also been enjoying Labyrinth, Farkle, and 5 Second Rule.

What I will be sharing about our Christmas is that our children unwrapped these luggage tags leading them to new suitcases wrapped with clues of a Hawaii vacation!!!  We leave in 2 days!  And now we pack!

I hope your Christmas was magical and happy!

Beautiful happiness quote by Heather Walker - Lovely Matters Blog
 

Family Movie Reviews

I confess, I'd so much rather watch a movie in the comfort of my own home than at the theaters.  However, tis the season for new movies that we don't have the patience to wait to be released on our home television.  And because we don't do this very often it makes going to the theater even more special.

A family evening at the movies was actually a very thoughtful Christmas "experience gift" from Grandparents.

I read Wonder years ago with my daughter and we finally got to see the anticipated movie, along with my son who heard the book as a read-along in his class.  I love how well it followed the book and it's touch on real life.  Such a beautiful message!  This was a movie about feelings.  We laughed hard and cried hard.  It opened so many great conversations with my 9 and 11-year-old.  The message relayed over and over, "Choose Kindness" is one this world could always use more focus on.  I wish we could watch the ending scene 5 times over. 

I highly recommend reading the book first.  I always use Common Sense Media as a reference on age-appropriate movies.  I knew in advance this wasn't something I wanted my 6-year-old to watch just yet (bulling and a couple violent fight scenes).  I'll look forward to reading the book with him first in another couple of years.  Therefore, my husband took our younger two at the same time to see Coco.  He walked out and told me 1. The message was perfect: the most important thing is family.  2. It was very colorful in animation and music. 3. The kids were glued and entertained the entire time.

Both of these movies were listed as Common Sense Media's best family movies of the year.  This list has me realizing we have several movies to catch up on over break.

I'd love to hear your favorite family movie of the year!

 

Bohemian Kolacky cookie

the real Bohemian Kolacky - A favorite Christmas tradition - Lovely Matters Blog by Heather Walker

A favorite Christmas cookie from my childhood is my Grandparents' Bohemian Kolacky (yep, this is how they spelled it).  The kids love every step of making these.  From pushing their thumb prints in the cookies, to sprinkling the streusel on top.  My Grandparents immigrated from Czechoslovakia and opened a bakery in Chicago and this is the original recipe from their Czech village.  I love the simple ingredients and the sugar is minimal as far as Christmas cookies go.  I used a mixed berry jelly but you could use any fruit compote.  I hope you enjoy as much as we do!

the real Bohemian Kolacky - A favorite Christmas tradition - Lovely Matters Blog by Heather Walker
 

A weekend of Christmas sounds and treats

Christmas Hot cocoa bar for music recital. Lovely Matters by Heather Walker

Our weekend was filled with live Christmas music & baking!

Friday we had our family pizza night in listening to music, baking pecans, and playing our new favorite game, Ticket to Ride

Saturday we baked holiday treats with the kids (including a favorite from my Grandparents' recipe from their Bohemian bakery that I'll be sharing this week) and then Hubby and I attended a friend's surprise party!  I love a good surprise, as long as it's not for me :). 

Sunday we attended a Christmas concert that my son's guitar teacher is the band leader for.  The music was heavenly!  It was special for my son (and the rest of us) to see his teacher on stage performing.  Then we hosted that same guitar teacher's students at our home for their annual guitar recital.  I say it often, there's nothing like a party at home.  We needed a large enough space for seating 40-50 people so we held the party outside.  The temperature was in the 50s, therefore, we provided hot cocoa and lots of blankets and our guests commented that they felt cozy and comfortable.  Everything about this evening made this season feel complete.  Friends and strangers and music filled our home.  I mostly stood in the back of the crowd because I wanted to take in all the magic that surrounded us.  Little and big ones snuggled in close and one little one fell asleep on his mama's chest.

Outdoor Christmas music recital. Lovely Matters by Heather Walker
DSC_1648.jpgChristmas Hot cocoa bar for music recital. Lovely Matters by Heather Walker

I framed Christmas sheet music to decorate the hot cocoa table for this special event.  This is the original sheet music that my Grandparents played on the Organ every Christmas as we sat beside them singing along as children.  I love decorating with a memory!

Christmas Hot cocoa bar for music recital. Lovely Matters by Heather Walker
Outdoor guitar recital.  Lovely Matters Blog by Heather Walker

We had some extra time while putting together the hot cocoa station so we quickly whipped up these treats that the kids will share with their school friends and neighbors.  I was excited to find these wooden spoons on Amazon because I didn't want to dip plastic in melted chocolate.  I did the dipping in the melted chocolate and then let the kids top with their favorite mix-ins.  Easy and fun!

DIY Hot Cocoa spoons. Class Christmas gift idea.  Lovely Matters by Heather Walker

Here's how I packaged them for my little one's old's preschool class.  The others I'll have the kids write their names.

DIY Hot Cocoa Spoons.  Great idea for class gifts.  Lovely Matters by Heather Walker

Shouldn't every night in December end like this - sleeping beside a Christmas tree on top of a Christmas book.

sleeping child beside Christmas Tree. Lovely Matters blog by Heather Walker

This post contains affiliate links.  The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.  Learn more here.  

 

Christmas lights activity

Christmas activity looking at lights.  free printable.  Lovely Matters by Heather Walker

Last Thursday our "Gifts of Togetherness" was looking at lights and leaving little notes (below photo) at our favorite decorated homes in the neighborhood.  The kids had so much fun running door to door giggling as they hung candy canes and messages on doors without getting caught.  My friend sent me a funny video from her Ring app that caught my kids in action.  

Christmas lights activity.  Handmade notes for decorated homes.  Lovely Matters blog by Heather Walker

Since then I've had several friends mention that their kids now want to do this.  To encourage this I've created a printable for the little ones who can't write their own notes, or maybe those who would like to simplify this activity.  I created it with the ideas that the lights could be colored.

Click here to print your Christmas lights note cards! 

 
christmas activity while looking at lights.  Lovely Matters by Heather Walker
 

I hope you are enjoying this special time and are finding the time to create memories with your loved ones.

Weekend recap

Every year as December approaches I make big plans in my head on how I want to decorate our home.  Then I end up quickly putting together a few decorating details so it can be done and we can focus on spending time celebrating the season with our Gifts of Togetherness.

I'm using fresh garland this year indoors and out with this 3" ribbon

I'm using fresh garland this year indoors and out with this 3" ribbon

This past weekend my parents were visiting from Chicago so the kids got the very best gift - quality time with them. 

We played games and my parents gifted them this new game that's been on our list for a long time.  I look forward to many family nights playing this one.

We decorated gingerbread houses.   I love making gingerbread, and follow Martha Stewarts Ginger Bread recipe, but in the past few years, I've learned that our houses are best store bought because we tend to leave them up for decoration.  This Gingerbread Village has been requested by our kids for the past several years.  Each child gets their own house and they collectively put it together to make a village.  I now save the homemade recipe for the cookies we can consume while still warm.  

We also witnessed the sweetest live nativity, looked at Christmas lights, and consumed an appropriately significant amount of sugar.  Hubby and I snuck in a couple dates!  One was attending his company Christmas party and then we finished up our Christmas shopping, went to brunch, and visited the fancy new Starbucks Reserve.

Christmas Party Attire: Pleated Velvet Top   Lipstick  Free people skirt, Banana Republic earrings and Stella and Dot clutch no longer available.  

Christmas Party Attire: Pleated Velvet Top   Lipstick 

Free people skirt, Banana Republic earrings and Stella and Dot clutch no longer available.  

Loved this Plaid Blazer my hubby wore so well!  

Loved this Plaid Blazer my hubby wore so well!  

More photos of our Holiday look on Instagram.  

Back to decorating... My favorite place to decorate for Christmas is our kid's rooms.  It's the last and first thing they see every morning and I want them to feel the magic!

I spoke about these cozy sheets here and my little one selected this snowflake pattern on one of our Target runs.  Tin can Christmas tree from Hobby Lobby with our favorite twinkle lights.  Reindeer from Pottery Barn years ago that he immediately grabbed from the storage box and placed in his room.  

I spoke about these cozy sheets here and my little one selected this snowflake pattern on one of our Target runs.  Tin can Christmas tree from Hobby Lobby with our favorite twinkle lights.  Reindeer from Pottery Barn years ago that he immediately grabbed from the storage box and placed in his room.  

Our fridge chalkboard is always a simple place to decorate for the different holidays.

Our fridge chalkboard is always a simple place to decorate for the different holidays.

Greenery, as you can see, is my favorite way to decorate for Christmas.

Greenery, as you can see, is my favorite way to decorate for Christmas.

My hubby's office is now complete with winter attire ;)

My hubby's office is now complete with winter attire ;)

I believe a home should tell the story of a family - this is a little indication of "us" as you enter our home this Christmas.  

I believe a home should tell the story of a family - this is a little indication of "us" as you enter our home this Christmas.  

 

This post contains affiliate links.  The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.  Learn more here.  

 

Christmas tree traditions

Christmas tree Traditions. Lovely Matters blog by Heather Walker

We made time for one of our favorite traditions, cutting down a Christmas tree.  All our kids get a turn at helping cut and then we always cut a few slices of the trunk to make ornaments or gift tags.  My older son holds the honors of dragging the tree back to the tractor.

Christmas Tree Traditions.  Lovely Matters blog by Heather Walker

My daughter/first born has always had the honors of placing the angel.  Pictured is our Kids' artificial tree in the playroom where Santa will leave their gifts.  Everything on the tree is homemade by the kids - except for the Angel topper which was from my childhood.

Christmas tree Traditions. Lovely Matters blog by Heather Walker

Christmas is such a great time to get a similar photo to record your child's growth.  I have the same picture of my son and daughter year after year doing the honors of dragging the tree and placing the Angel.  

The artificial tree in our entryway is mostly decorated from the stairs and shoulder rides because it's so tall.  

Christmas tree Traditions.  Lovely Matters by Heather Walker

This first weekend of December was mostly spent at home celebrating our gifts of togetherness as a family and also included some friends.  Lights in our backyard were definitely called for.  

Christmas Traditions.  Decorating for Christmas.  Lovely Matters Blog by Heather Walker

We hosted our monthly Mother/Daughter Book Club meeting at our home and shared our Christmas morning tradition of monkey bread.  Our book this month was Mango Shaped Space and my daughter mentioned it as her favorite book of 2017!

Mother Daughter Book Club Christmas. Lovely Matters Blog by Heather Walker

And here's where we snuggled up on Sunday night next to our farm cut tree to watch Frosty the Snowman.  Our Advent Calendar really reminds us to live in the moment with these simple gifts of togetherness.  And I especially love that most of these gifts are at home -   where our favorite memories are made.  

Christmas Tree Traditions.  Gifts of Togetherness.  Lovely Matters Blog by Heather Walker

Christmas music is filling our home with this Pandora station being my favorite and my little ones request this children's station

This post contains affiliate links.  The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.  Learn more here.