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

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.

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Camping is not a vacation.

Camping is not a vacation.  It's deeper than that.  Different than that.

Camping is simply a time for connecting. 

I camp to connect with people, nature, and myself.

camping is not a vacation.  Lovely Matters blog by Heather Walker

When we disconnect from the modern technology-filled world and join the outside world it makes one realize how simple life really is.  Once your basic needs are met - food/water, shelter, and love - you realize how focusing on the basics makes everything else seem insignificant.  

I also appreciate how camping naturally makes us exercise.  The best type of exercise, in nature, unaware that we are even exercising our body because we are having fun.

camping is not a vacation.  lovely matters blog by Heather Walker

Problem-solving, team work, mentally present in the moment, social atmosphere, the benefits are endless - you get the idea!  

There's something about camping that makes me crave it again.  Even though I sleep miserable and miss taking a shower and don't love bugs.  I plan our next trip because I crave the closeness.  We can hear each other thinking.  There's a calmness in our souls.  There are moments while camping I think to myself "maybe this isn't for me" but then there's something much bigger than that as we sit under the stars sharing food, stories, and songs.

camping is not a vacation.  Lovely Matters blog by Heather Walker

If you aren't sure if camping is your thing just give it a try for one night somewhere nearby.  Just make sure you bring a good sleeping bag (we use two of these zippered together for additional body warmth) and a camp pad is a MUST.  Or you could go glamping in a cabin or rent an RV.  I think gifting someone with camping supplies and a scheduled date to go camping would be such a thoughtful Christmas gift idea!  And if you still need convincing here is scientific proof on the benefits of camping.  

camping is not a vacation.  Lovely Matters blog by Heather Walker
why we camp.  Lovely Matters blog by Heather Walker
 

Finding my simple living to simply live

7 years ago I was so interested in living a simple/minimalism life that we moved out of our traditional sized home and renovated a 1,600 square foot home.  Several garage sales and donation pick ups later, we moved into our tiny home where everything we owned was either useful or beautiful.  That was my intention. It was lovely.  Then baby #3 came and we got the itch to renovate another home, and another and with it our 4th baby.  Our current home is a perfect home for making roots and someday having 4 teenagers that will want their own space.  We still talk about our "tiny home" as our favorite.  We had very few places to put stuff, therefore less stuff.  It forced us to live with our minimum needs.  This gave us more time and space to make room for the people and life experiences that were important to us. 

The subject of minimalism is, of course, quite subjective.  I think of minimalism as less is more. But it's also a mindset.  For instance, if we are talking about clutter in the home...  I can live with the rooms on our second floor cluttered, but my mind will feel cluttered if my kitchen counters and master bedroom is cluttered.  I have found this as my personal balance.  The spectrum of minimalism is extremely wide.  Like everything, we each need to do what is best for ourselves.  

Isn't life all about balance.  I balance my consumption of chocolate with my consumption of greens.  And I balance my splurges with my frugality and thriftiness.  Balancing a life of living with less helps me live with more intention.

I don't have this lifestyle mastered, nor would I want to.  The words "simple and balanced" are simply a reminder to keep myself in check with all the temptations life brings.  What to wear, how to discipline, what to feed my family, how to decorate my home or my child's birthday party, the list goes on.  These words have taken the pressure off mothering and have allowed me to focus on my top priorities.

One mindset I have changed to encourage minimalism is eliminating the word "busy" from my vocabulary.  Busy is a choice.  In our daily life I don't want my family to be busy - but rather productive.  Intentional on how we go about our day.

If you are curious about adding more simplicity or minimalism in your life try writing down all the areas in your life that feel cluttered.  Physically and emotionally.  Start small.  Few people have an entire day they can spend organizing their closet.  Start with your shoe collection and pull everything out.  Make 3 piles.  Sell. Donate. Keep.  Then move on to your jeans.  repeat.  Then see how you feel.  Maybe the minimalism balance doesn't start in your closet but in your head.  Write down what's making you feel "busy" and cross out everything that's not important.  Then tackle the rest.

Now that you know my story I plan to share many more thoughts on how I use simple living to simply live.  Follow your own path and don't let anyone tell you how to live your life according to theirs.  

On simply living to simply live.  Lovely Matters blog by Heather Walker
 

giving matters - make it thoughtful

4 thoughtful Christmas gifts ~ lovely matters blog by Heather Walker ~ Christmas simplified

The first year we celebrated Christmas as a family (11 years ago) we decided to keep the focus of gift giving with four thoughtful gifts; something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.  This has not only simplified our Christmas shopping, but it follows the "less is more" reminder.  This allows for more time and thoughtfulness as we choose each gift.  This also allows for more time spent as a family, celebrating our "gifts of togetherness" in December - another post to come explaining this. 

These are the gifts they get from us and then Santa fills their stockings and brings a gift or two for each and or a group gift.  This varies year to year and just depends on what they are asking for.  

My husband and I also give these 4 gifts to one other, but we simplify it even more.  The "need" is often a kitchen utensil that needs replacing, or a tube of toothpaste to show the kids just how practical we are. ha ha.  One year I wrapped lipstick as his "something to wear".  And you can use your imagination on what he wraps for me each year as my something to "wear".  There was 1 or 2 years my husband and I skipped doing this for one another (somewhere between the thick of parenting and birthing and nursing 4 babies), but now especially as the kids are more aware, It's important to us that they see us sharing these thoughtful gifts.

I involve the children as much as possible in shopping for all members of our family.  They've come up with some very creative ideas - like how to give Daddy a gift that they actually want.  Family board games have work well in this category.

The next 4 posts I will share my read, wear, want and need gift ideas for my family.  I hope you'll follow along and find some new ideas for your family and I'd love to hear your gift ideas also!  

 

Thankful chalkboard

Every November I clear our chalkboard to make room for all we are thankful for.  Each child writes the first thing that comes to their mind every day in November.  I have a photo of what this looks like at the end of the month from all the years past.  I love our kids having these daily reminders on how blessed they are.  Here's our Chalkboard on Nov 1st and I'll share what it looks like on November 30th.  

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