Howdy from a stranger

Normal people take a year break from a blog, right? That’s what I thought. Cool.

Now for that awkward catch up cliff notes version of a blog post that’s sufficiently overdue. But seriously, where do you even start?

What have we been up to, you ask? Well, gosh, I’m glad you asked. Life, I guess is the quick answer. But I bet you want a longer version (but definitely not the LONG version….ain’t no one got time for that, ammiright?)

Let’s see. Since fall of 2018 we have been to Turks & Caicos as a big family, Craig and I have stolen away to Martinique (above photo is when we attempted to hike Mount Pellee), my real estate has continued to thrive enough that I have a part-time assistant (and friend from church), I’ve run a half marathon, Craig continues to work in biomedical statistics, Lily continues as a competitive gymnast, Ben continues in year-round travel soccer and Craig became an elder this fall. Still homeschooling and entering these odd “tween” years. So far, no one has chewed anyone’s head off, cried themself to sleep or stormed out the door never to return. So I’d say we are winning, right?

Homeschooling – We follow a Charlotte Mason method and that has been going really well. So well in fact, we started a small gathering with 3 other families, in the Charlotte Mason style. It’s perfect. The kids and mamas get along and we learn together. Then in the afternoon we head to a local park to hike and nature study. Wednesdays are our jam!

No house projects right now but I have my eye on that space above our detached garage …. or maybe a “She Shed”. Now we’re talking!

Real Estate – As I said above, I continue to sell anywhere from 1-2 houses a month averaged out in a year. But keep in mind, I’m no Wonder Woman. First and foremost, my girl Laura gives me anywhere from 5-15 hours a week depending what we have going on and her schedule. I have help. I also get lulls and breaks. In fact, this last one was a longer lull and while that means less income for us, it translates as more quality time together, which has its perks that FAR outweigh extra cash. I keep reminding myself that they will only be little (or middle sized….or maybe let’s just say “home”) once. These days are fleeting and I’m soaking up every minute I can get with them.

I have lots of thoughts about lots of things, but for now, we will close this “I’m so sorry I stopped posting here” post and move on. Forgive me?

Catch ya next time. Also, for more updates on the day-to-day stuff, I’m over at @intentionalgirl on Instagram.


Winter Wonderland

Well hello there. Thought I would pop in and say hello about a year and change later. We have been busy as you can imagine and since I’m a terrible blogger (I mean, the worst) I thought I should pop in and say exactly that.

Most notably our area in Pennsylvania was hit with a snowstorm the other week so everyone hunkered down over here and started knitting. You might even say we are knitting fools now. But then naturally I got to try out my 4WD car and closed on a house just shortly after said storm. So that’s kinda fun and kinda awful. But the snow is beautiful so we will just say that it has actually been the catalyst to Christmas decorating and Advent music. So excited!

I have all sorts of ideas for future posts and have many things to say. But those are for another day. Cheers friends and happy Thanksgiving!

Travel much?


Oh hey. It’s me again. Intentionalgirl. You know, about 6 months later. Sheesh. You’d think I’d get my act together with this blog but that thing called life gets in the way.

But, I have the app on my phone now so watch out, y’all.

Okay. Where do I start?

Well I will start with now. We are in the midst of our summer of traveling. And guess, what? I LOVE it!

In May we spent a weekend camping with American Heritage Girls (think Girl Scouts with a faith component). In June Lily turned 10 and we had a backyard campout (that was totally interrupted by a tropical storm!).


We also headed to Savannah, Georgia for her Nationals Gymnastics Competition. She is Level 3 and was so excited to be able to go. We drove down, which was fun and gave us tons of freedom. After the competition element we hooked up with our sweet friends and went ocean kayaking where we saw dolphins, fish, almost took home a hermit crab. It was great!



Then in mid-July our extended families traveled to Wyoming and saw the majestic Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks. Words fail to describe how amazing this trip was. 12 amazing days of hiking, sight-seeing, trail riding, snow-ball fighting, white-water rafting, river floating and so much more. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

And now my amazing hubsters and I are about to head to France – by ourselves – did you catch that? By OURSELVES. Kids are being attended to by some family and friends. 9 days to steel away to the place I’ve always wanted to go. To speak the language I love dearly. To hike some mountains. To explore the Provence area of southern France. We leave in 3 days. 3 days y’all.

And yet somewhere in the midst of that I’ve sold 12 houses, with 4 getting ready to close next month and October. So as much as I might be tempted to feel mildly guilty about stepping away, I do not. Not one bit. It’s been a great year of homeschooling and real estating and I need the recharge of stepping away from it all with Craig. We celebrate 15 years of marriage so this is our big celebratory trip. As a French major I am so pumped that I finally get to travel to this country and practice my skills. Rusty skills, but skills nonetheless.

We will be traveling to Paris, Salon-de-Provence, Marseille, and Interlakken in Switzerland. We plan to hike the Hardergrat (more info here about this amazingly scary and hard hike). We are also doing the entire trip by staying at Airbnb homes. Some are studios. Some are private rooms in peoples’ homes.

I will be sure to post about our trip once we return. I am sure, just like we were able to learn from other blog/sites, we will post our favorite pieces of our trip. That is, if we don’t fall off the steep cliffs of the Hardergrat trail.

Another thing to mention would be the rehab work we did over the last month to our homeschool room. Finally ordered and got the ball rolling with our window seat (see Instagram), painted it, installed floating desk, started to paint and generally organized. It’s not finished but it’s 90% there and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have a space. We don’t have to do work there but we have a place for everything and for that I’m grateful. We have made some changes to a Charlotte Mason methodology for schooling. Much thanks to Learning How to Live CM we took the plunge after receiving a very helpful consultation with Amy Snell on how to transition. She gave me insight and advice. She listened and offered suggestions. Two helpful takaways for me were for me to work on our daily rhythms of the morning (get up, pray, brush teeth, make bed, eat breakfast, etc). The other was that I didn’t have to change EVERYTHING to Charlotte Mason ways right away. She suggested we stick with our Teaching Textbooks math for now and just see how the other things go. She suggested we use Alveary by the Charlotte Mason Institute. Books are ordered and should be here by the time we return from France. So excited to dive in!

Catch you all later – and just because I can, I’ll leave you with a little French goodnight! – Cheers – Steph

A la prochaîne mes amis! Je suis très fatiguée et il faut que je dorme maintenant!



Meet Lily. She’s our spunky first-born. She is stubborn, fiercely loyal, sweet, frustratingly slow, amazing, talented, opinionated, gullible and the list could just keep going. You get the picture…she’s pretty awesome! When it started to dawn on us that traditional school wasn’t going to work for her (at least for a little while) we decided to explore the homeschooling option.

After many phone calls and meet-ups with some friends….meetings and conversations where I tried to have them convince me there was NO way I should consider homeschooling. Like at all. Because afterall, that’s for the unsocialized, weirdo, stare-at-the-floor, odd-clothing-wearing people. That’s not me. I don’t have a general disdain for public education. I am not a trailblazer. I don’t buck the system. Definitely not when it comes to their education. I mean, who has time for that, right?20150527_142828_resized

Well, apparently we do.

And can I just tell you that it was the BEST decision we ever made? Like, for reals. Not kidding you. At night we used to fight with my sweet Lily about homework. Because we had a strict schedule and we had to eat and she had to, of course, take a bath and get ready to school the next day. I was deathly afraid that she was going to be the source of hair loss for me if we homeschooled. Surely I would pull all my hair out. Surely I would fail and fall miserably on my face and then I’d be the laughing stock of the entire neighborhood. All sorts of fears flooded me. And also I had some pie. You know, the humble kind? The one where you remember saying OUT LOUD to others, “Yeah, that homeschooling thing. I mean, it’s cool and all, but good for them. Definitely not my cup of tea.” Again with the not joking. Totally came out of my mouth a few times. I’m like the poster child for the least likely person to homeschool.

But then we weighed the pros and cons. We weighed our options. And it was clear. We had to give it a shot.



Giving it a shot has landed me 3 years later with both kids home. Lily is 9 and Ben is 7. I’d tell you what school grade they were in but they overlap so much with the things they excel at or struggle with that a grade is just a number.


We are part of a faith-based co-op school that meets 2x a week. We love it there. The kids have some organized discussion classes that help me get a break and help them…well, get a break from me, too.

I’ve been asked by a few friends recently to share what our days look like now that I’m an ole pro — I seriously hope you heard how sarcastically I said that. Please tell me you heard it?!

General Routine ::

  • Breakfast and begin reading/talking about Jesus / Sing Along to a Worship Song / I read our devotional passage (currently Galations about the fruit of the Spirit and John) / Pray
  • Something hands-on (drawing, painting, clay, embroidery, coloring) while I read aloud from one of our books we are going through : Just finished Hatchet and are halfway through Julie of the Wolves. So much love for both.
  • Writing or copywork (this can be an assignment from co-op school or something I give them; for my 7 year old I typically give him optional topics or he can write and draw in his Archer Journal or he copies a hymn we are working on. Currently Be Thou My Vision.
  • Break/Snack
  • Math : We have been struggling here. Options for us: a game (I’m gonna do a post about this alone), Singapore Math pages, Dreambox, Kahn Academy, Homemade Math I’ve recently discovered)
  • History (Story of the World is what we have used the last 2 years) but we are starting to morph into a more Charlotte Mason approach in the fall.

I’m trying to wrap up most of what we need to do by noon to leave time for play and for us to sort of do whatever it is we find ourselves interested in. Some of those loves are:

  • Piano
  • Wild Explorers Club (click link for info)
  • American Heritage Girls (click link for info)
  • Nature Journaling
  • Birding which includes using binoculars, taking DSLR hi-res images, hiking
  • Science reading and experiments
  • Memory game
  • Puzzles
  • Baking
  • Library time
  • Free draw

Generally we let the afternoons take us where they do. As I think about this fall and all the options before us, we have decided to pull back from the more classical approach and have some plans to dive into the Charlotte Mason education teachings (using Ambelside Online as our guide) this summer and fall. I’m really excited and scare all packaged up in a box with a nice bow on top.

The aspects of Charlotte Mason’s approach that I am the most excited about is giving the kids free time outdoors, reading living books as part of our history lessons and doing more read-alouds with narration. I am still a long way off from all that I need to know to better teach my precious souls, but in another sense I’m perfectly equipped to be their educator. My husband and I know them better than anyone. We know what bothers them. We know how their minds work. We know what they love and hate and everything in between.

I’m really excited about this new adventure and all that it will bring into our lives. I’m looking forward to posting weekly updates on things we do and what life looks like.

Also, there’s a community that has been wonderfully encouraging for me and if you are in need of something to inspire, equip and make you feel like you are not alone, then definitely check out Wild + Free. They are a breath of fresh air. Recently I had a chance to write an article for them about my homeschooling and working gig and how we make it all work. They offer a monthly subscription full of monthly magazines, podcasts, resources galore and annual conferences. I highly recommend you check them out if you homeschool and need some kindred spirits.

So that’s us in a very large nutshell. Hope it’s encouraging for you!




Newcomb Creations was born out of our own creations for our own family. That overflowed into gifts for others which then led to us posting on social media which then….yep, you guessed it, led to others wanting similar items. We have been dabbling for years in creative efforts. And let’s be clear. When I saw “we”, I really usually mean Craig. He is heart, soul and brains behind our operation.

A bed. A dresser. A coffee table. A farmhouse table. An apothecary console table. Pallet artwork. Coasters. Wood-burned ornaments and coasters. Jewelry.

And to be be honest, we aren’t quite sure where to go from here. Etsy….Shopify….our own website. We would love to have a venue for folks to purchase our items with ease, but what should that look like? How do we do that? How much does that cost?

As you can CLEARLY see, we have figured out a lot about this creative/artisan/DIY biz we’ve got going. Psyche.

But we do have a logo. So there’s that.

I’m honestly amazed. There are so many talented and creative people around me, I could just cry. Or maybe laugh. No…jump for joy? Okay, you get my drift. We moved from a fabulously talented street last year. On our street alone we have my husband who can pretty much do anything from furniture building to kitchen rehab. My friend Jessie has the most beautiful home and now has started doing hand-lettering, calligraphy and watercolor awesomeness. You can find her items at MineralLettering on Etsy. Then we have the talented Leslie who is across the street from our old house who makes lots of amazing things that are more from the healthy and wellness side of things. All-natural teething necklaces (can you say BRILLIANT?) as well as oil blends such as Golden Oil. Last year I came down with shingles (yes, I know that’s for old people and no, I don’t consider myself old) and I used her Golden Oil and a few other products and swear up and down it helped more than I realize even now. I somehow avoided using the numbing patches the docs gave me because her oils helped soothe the pain. Check out her biz at Ten Air Studios. Also on our street is the lady who created this amazing logo, our old next door neighbor, the fabulous Kathryn Titgen. Her day job pays the bills, but her side biz of Creative Love Design is where she creates beauty – logos, wedding themes, hand-lettered print art and much more.

Ya’ll this is JUST on our old 1st Avenue. Totally in the water I’m sure. And there are probably others lurking behind closed doors that I don’t even know about.

So, three cheers to Kathryn for her amazing design for our new adventure of Newcomb Creations. Here are a few of our creations as of lately just to give you a sense of what we have going on.






Hiya! My name is Steph and I’ve been on a slow train to crunchy for about 12 years. Or so says my husband who thinks I’ve been on this train much longer.

I have no memory of what started my trip to crunchy-land but I’m glad I’m here because I’m loving it. I am the perfect blend of weird and normal (or so I think).

I started cutting out things because I would read an article about something and then that would lead me down the rabbit hole reading more about it and then I’m left with this overwhelming feeling that I could not go back. But I can’t really go forward 100% because of money or time or whatever. Small changes. Over time we made small changes to how we do things. Things we purchased or stopped purchasing.

Are you ready? Because this is the epitome of intentional right here…

  1. Deodorant-only deodorant. No aluminum. Crunchy Betty makes a fabulous kokomo cream deodorant that I love and she includes her recipe so you can recreate – but who has time for that?
  2. Coconut oil as a moisturizer and cooking oil.
  3. Dryer Balls en lieu of dryer sheets from my girl Lindsey at Morris Street.
  4. No bleach in cleaning (ever). Not even clothing. Tea tree oil cleansers have replaced this.
  5. Cleaning with Baking Soda – this has been a hit-and-miss product for me
  6. Vinegar for cleaning. See #5 above but still on my “strive” list
  7. African Black Soap for facial cleansing
  8. Scent free laundry detergent. We use Melaleuca or Honest Company items.
  9. Hand soaps using Castile soap and water combo or Method brand
  10. Raw honey en lieu of traditional honey
  11. Elderberry syrup for immune boosting powers from yet again, Morris Street
  12. Cleanish eating. I no longer buy Goldfish at the store. Fruit has replaced that. As little processed food as I can muster. Meat and fruit and veggies.
  13. Eggs with sausage or bacon most mornings
  14. Synthetic scents have been replaced with essential oils by Doterra.


So if this is you. Start slow. Start with one change. Do it with intention and not just because it’s a fad. Read about it. Research it. Find out if it makes sense. And then make another change. Slow and steady wins the race every time.

And now…. I think I’m ready to take the crazy train to working on products to improve our gut and such. I know, I know. Gross. But seriously…I want to strive to taking better care of our bodies and our homes.

So that’s us in a nushell. A very crazy nutshell that is desiring to be even more off the grid and untraditional than we are.

How are you cutting out the synthetic or getting back to more natural products. I’d love to hear. Let’s share!!!

Because this is worth reposting. Yes!!!

Source: 6 Things you should expect when raising a teenager

Pallet project

So I’ve recently learned how to use power tools. And I found a great resource for free pallets. And I’ve made some creative friends. And I started homeschooling my son in addition to my daughter. And it’s been the wildest year of real estate as I’ve market my 6th year and have had the most successful year to date. And we’ve moved. And we have a bigger car now. And we have made some new friends in our new neighborhood. And I’m trying not to be too busy but do things we love with great intention.

Here’s a bit of what I’ve been up to via photos. I know you all have missed me and we are sorry for our delay. We’ve been super busy trying to acclimate to our new digs and our new schedule!































It’s almost November and already we’ve had a year….a few noteworthy additions….I ran my first 10 miler race, we vacationed to the Outer Banks, NC, we read the BFG (wicked good!) and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I traveled back to Mississippi to deal with some of my mom’s affairs, we’ve gotten outside a ton.

How goes it in your world? What are you doing intentionally?

She’s gone. Just like that, my mom went from having breast cancer to gone. January 2015 will forever be a season to remember. A season of mourning. In the blink of an eye it happened. Before I could catch my breath I went from trying to remember it was now 2015 and actually writing the correct year to flying to Mississippi to then planning a funeral. Oh the tears. The heartache. The disbelief. The shock. It was overwhelming.


I’ve pondered over and over how to write things down about this season. To capture how I felt. How I feel now. I’ve lamented this seemingly forgotten blog of mine that seems lost in the shuffle; almost like something I did a lifetime ago before there was death and dying screaming at me….before my sister and I were thrown into the world of making terminal care decisions for our mom. Before life seemed to stop.
piano photo
This chalkboard canvas was newish to our home last year. I decided to put this verse on it at the time because I wanted my 7 & 5 year olds to memorize a good but easy Scripture. I was about to embark on a journey of homeschooling and wanted something visual to help us along.

These words are the theme of this year….they were constantly ringing in my head as I plowed along on that lonely road of grief at the beginning of the year. God, in his infinite wisdom, knew that I would need this truth embedded in my heart…woven into the fibers of my being. I am so thankful for this truth, both then and now.

There are things I want to write down. A bearing of the soul, of sorts. Memories I never want to forget. People who shared things with me at very perfect times that really lifted my soul and encouraged my heart. God moved in some amazing ways. Ever present no matter what I do, I felt Him there. He used his people to reach into my broken places and keep my eyes on His truth.


And as the last 7 months have soared by, I have missed my mom, but I have embraced the ways God has grown me through the heartache and through the grief. It’s reforged my sister and my friendship and our own silly, quirky sisterhood. I am so unbelievably thankful for her and our time of crying, laughing and almost starting a chimney fire!

I think of my sweet memories along the way as moments in which God breathed new life into me. The community I have is beautiful. Really. It’s remarkable. People (some of whom are reading this) shared things with me or had conversations with me that were filled with truth and love and empathy. Past clients, friends I’ve lost touch with, current friends, college friends, high school friends, parents of my high school friends, my amazing church family, mom friends from my now-Pennsylvania homestead, family from across the miles…


The pastor/friend who texted me days after my mom passed away (as he was about to say goodbye to his)

May Christ be real to you this day, sister….He binds up the wounds of the brokenhearted.

The 40+ private message I received and probably just as many text message and phone calls from friends letting me know they were praying for me and my family and sharing scripture with me.

My sweet cousin who called me when she heard and then traveled hundreds of miles to say goodbye to mom and the laughs and hugs and tears and space we shared over several days.

No picture of this one but me, out of my mind with grief and fatigue and having back pains, doing push-ups and planks in the hallway of the hospital halls and my sweet friend and high school Young Life leader who called and saved me from my embarrassing planking to tell me she’s thinking of me and praying for me and my sister.

My sister and I waltzing into the small town Mississippi hospital with bags upon bags of groceries and toiletries from Walmart as if we had moved right in….laughing in hysterics about how ridiculous we were…

The friend who wrote a song about grief and God’s total goodness…who sends you the lyrics because she thought of you and the dying and the tears you were enduring…and she thought it would encourage your heart….and it did as the tears streamed down your face…


That day of errand running after everyone had gone back home and I’m still 1,000 miles away from my husband and children….and my to-do list is long and distinguished….and I stop to get Chick-Fil-A and that amazing song came on the radio and I find myself sitting in the car with tears listening….

When I walk through deep waters
I know that You will be with me
When I’m standing in the fire
I will not be overcome
Through the valley of the shadow
I will not fear

I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me

In the midst of deep sorrow
I see Your light is breaking through
The dark of night will not overtake me
I am pressing into You
Lord, You fight my every battle
And I will not fear

You amaze me
Redeem me
You call me as Your own

You’re my strength
You’re my defender
You’re my refuge in the storm
Through these trials
You’ve always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul

Coming home in the middle of winter after 3 weeks of being far, far away finding these 2 amazing kids ready with love notes, and hugs, and kisses. And somehow life resumes and everything is how it was…yet it’s forever different…image



Surviving the great purge of everything your mom owned in the world by snapping photos like this with your sister, who is just as devastated as you are that you are actually dividing things up and packing everything into a moving truck…


Attending a women’s conference with a dear friend a few months later and realizing….”these people don’t know that my mom just died….” And hearing stories about loss and God’s redemption in the midst of tragedy and heartache and realizing this was the perfect place for me to be with my tears and my aching heart. And receiving a necklace as part of our welcome package for the overnight conference with I Corinthians 15:19 etched on the back that says “By the grace of God, I am what I am.” and what an encouragement that was for you. Thanks Sarah Mae!


Saying goodbye to your mom over a span of 6 days. Making the difficult decision to start hospice care and wondering if you have just made the biggest mistake ever…


Sharing a twin air mattress in a hospital room closet (which was our home for 6 days) with your amazing and thankfully skinny sister…


That moment when you have just been told that your mom has days left on this earth and your dad and step-mom call and tell you they are getting on a plane and coming to you….and then that moment at 2AM when they walk through the door of the hospital room and you are BEYOND relieved to see familiar faces who love you no matter what and can hug you and cry with you as long as you needed it….image

Those family members and friends who traveled a crazy distance to be with you and help you say goodbye….and this special friend who my mom LOVED and who loved my mom….she came 1,000 miles and stayed with mom’s neighbors and made herself available to help with whatever and the fun we had driving around and crying together…


That moment in the hospital room that you just had to get out and run and the friends and family told you to step away for as long as you needed it….and when you came back you sat downstairs in the lobby area trying to figure out if this was real or a dream…

IMG_0051 image

Your amazing husband who not only picked up the slack at home (which included homeschooling a 2nd grader) but also called and texted and encouraged from afar. And then he made the long trek from Pennsylvania to Miississippi with 2 squirrely kids (ages 5 and 7)….Who helped you proofread your obituary, write your eulogy, and single-handedly designed the program for the funeral among many, many other tasks.


Your awesome friends and neighbors who made meals for your family back home in Pennsylvania while you were away…Who also watched your kids for hours, who carpooled and picked up and helped in countless ways….My memory there is that my husband and kids were fed and cared for!

The drive back from Mississippi to Virginia in your mom’s car with your sister who is just as nutty as you….

image image imageThat first day back to work feeling weird that life has resumed again…

That trip back to Mississippi to settle on mom’s house and waking up to this view and staying with these awesome friends. Friends you didn’t know 6 months ago and who have now become so dear and so close to you…


The man of the hour….mom’s good friend who helped coordinate EVERYTHING while you were grieving. The man with the connections without whom I think we’d still be tying up loose ends!

Going to the grave site and seeing the tombstone for the first time and realizing (for the 1000th time) she really is gone from this earth…

Remembering how much she loved the man you chose as your husband and how awesome that was….Remembering how she would call him about all kinds of DIY projects. She respected him and she loved him.

imageRemembering the silly moments in the midst of the sadness…like when your sister tried to coach your daughter on the best way to give a leg massage…


The last photo I ever took with my mom. We were in New Orleans together having fun and laughing….

imageAnd here I have been in these broken places. Some days trying to get by without the tears ruining my make-up and other days embracing that God’s timing of taking us away from this earth is perfect and it happens as it should.

These days I hug my kids more. I spend more time with them and less time fixing and cleaning. I hug my husband more. I have NO idea when my time will be up but my mom’s passing sure has brought the reality of my frailty and my sinfulness and my humanity to the light. I am a vapor that is here today and gone tomorrow. May my life bring glory and honor to the One who made me and who called me and has provided everything for me. May the resources He’s given me be offered back to Him as fragrant offerings, however small they feel, from grateful hearts who deserve not one bit of it. Thankful for my friends and my family that He uses to keep my heart focused on heavenly things….

This is what it’s been like to dwell in the in-between places…

Christmas 2014 coverIt’s officially Christmas time here (if you didn’t know that, then cue the Christmas music playlist on Spotify and start drinking egg nog…or peppermint hot chocolate..or both) and here in our home we like Christmas. We do decorations. We do a fresh wreath on the front door. We do nativities. We do sparkles. We do natural (I am really into using branches or “sticks” as my man calls them!}. We do gifts. We celebrate. We bake cookies. We laugh. We skimp on homework. We do crafts. We make things. We talk about Jesus. We talk about why he is our best gift. We do advent calendars. The girls get dressed up sometimes just because. We do music…sometimes loud music. We drive to our local sparkletown (our term for the neighborhoods with lots of Christmas lights and decorations…everyone calls it that, right?).

Those things we do on purpose. They don’t just happen.

There are some things we don’t do….not because they are evil or terrible or any of that. We simply choose to approach Christmas in a way that helps us all get better acquainted with the One who made us. So, there are things we say no to. Or if not “no”, we just don’t focus on them.

In no particular order…

  1. We read the Jesus Storybook Bible because it truly whispers His name on every page.
    We try to follow along with Adriel Booker’s advent reading plan found here. We want God’s presence with us – all 4 of us. Our kids need something on their level – something that speaks to their hearts and his book has been beautifully written in a story format that really captures their attention. Adriel’s Reading Plan will take you all the way through the advent season. She even has a free printable!
  2. We do gifts. We have been in a transition period between last year and this year moving towards three gifts for each child. Like many of you, it’s easy for us (me, really) to get carried away for Christmas and spend, spend, spend. Much like my friend Kelly over at My Overthinking (you can read about her blog post on the 3 gifts here) we want our children to know they have two parents who love them very much and who sacrifice a lot for them, including gifts for Christmas. The gifts aren’t from Santa. They are from us. While technically this year we have purchased more than 3 gifts, the point for us is that they do not get from us a mess of gifts under the tree. Gifts are fun and awesome and exciting. But the stuff is just that. It’s stuff. And we want them to enjoy it and be excited but also not covet more and more.
  3. We do music. We sing. We play the piano and guitar and stream music that leads our hearts to Jesus.
    piano photo
  4. We talk about giving and how much better that is than getting. We make gifts for our friends and talk about how it doesn’t matter if they don’t return the gesture. Giving is better. It’s always better. Always choose to give, is what we tell them. Best of all, give God’s love away in bucket fulls.
  5. We do decorations that mean something. Not all of them, but we try to sprinkle in bits and pieces that warm our hearts. That encourage us. That cause our gaze to look heavenward. That are from this awesome world in which we get to live! We still do stockings even though we chose not to incorporate Santa into our Christmas world. It’s fun for the kids to get surprises in there Christmas morning. Little trinkets. We also have a whole snow scene with lit ceramic houses. We let the kids play with the figures as long as they are careful. They LOVE it. And I love that they can have fun with that – especially when it’s snowy and too cold to be outside for long periods of time!
    christmas 14 decor3

christmas 14 decor2

christmas decor village 2

christmas decor village


Another thing we do is this awesome kid advent craft called Truth In The Tinsel but I’m doing a separate post about that. Eeek….can’t wait!

I intentionally filled this with things we do rather than things we don’t do. But if you are wondering…here it is…the moment of truth. From the beginning we have communicated to our kids that Christmas is about the gift of Jesus to us. It’s not about Santa. We tell them about Saint Nick and talk about who he was a little. We talk about how there are families who talk about Santa and him giving some gifts to their families. We tell them the adults are pretending with the kids and that they are in no way, shape or form to discuss that with their friends. We tell them that Santa is not real. Likewise, we do not participate in the Elf on the Shelf. We know many families who do and it’s cool and they do it really well. So there we have it.

That is a little piece of our lives during the Christmas season. Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed getting to know us a little.



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