Getting through Christmas without greed

This post sat in my drafts for 3 years! It still applies today though, we stuck to the 3 gift Christmas so I decided to post since it did, in fact, work out. 


I waited until after Christmas to post this to see if it would actually work out (I don’t like being a hypocrite if I can help it).

This year, we decided to try the 3 Gift Christmas. I can’t remember which blog I read about it on last year, but it was intriguing.

For me and my husband, Christmas memories were always of a tree sitting on top of a mountain of colorful packages. It was exciting! It was wonderful! And it was slightly greedy. Nothing on our Christmas morning was about the birth of Jesus. Nothing was about the reason for the season. It was all about us and the stuff we were getting.

I recall unwrapping boxes and boxes and while everything was super exciting to “get”- as the days inched on, we only ended up playing with or using maybe 1/3 of the gifts we got. Out of all the things my parents spent their money on, there would be maybe 3 things actually stuck around long enough to get their money’s worth out of it.

But it is not just about the money  that was wasted.

My 6 year old is “privileged”. She honestly thinks that every.single.time she goes with her Grammy, that she is entitled to a trip to Target to buy a toy or two. It could be that her love language is Gift getting (Lord help me if it is). Or it could be that Grammy buys her stuff when she is with her, so the assumption has been taught.

Either way, I do not want to train up kids that have the “gimmies”. I don’t want to go into debt to satisfy their need for colorful boxes, and I do not want their love bought. I want them to know that happiness does not come from stuff and they can’t take those made in China toys to heaven with them.

When I discovered the 3 Gift Christmas, it was the Lord giving us an answer to the present present problem.

The idea behind it is that Jesus only got 3 gifts (that are really mentioned) so why should we get more? The 3 gifts represent Gold, which is the item they really really want, Frankincense, which is something that connects them to family and God, and Myrrh, which is a personal item for beauty or health.

For my 6 year old, she got a pair of 100% real sterling and tanzinite earrings, a beginner children’s bible and a scooter for her beloved doll.

The 3 year old got a Veggie tales book set, her very first doll, and a set of pans for her kitchen

The 2 year old boy got a Tonka truck, Duplo blocks and a Fire truck.

We also got them a “together” gift which was a 24 pack of play-doh and filled their stockings with small items, natural candy, headbands,play silks, toothbrushes and replacement things for some of their other toys.

And you know what, they have been playing with every item they got. Because they did not get overwhelmed with stuff and we got them things that they actually wanted, we did not waste money on things just to wrap them, and they did not toss things aside just to play with the 2 things they wanted.

We talked about the 3 gift Christmas beforehand and they were in agreement (at 6 and 3 you don’t really have a choice anyway). They knew that it was only a rule in our household and that they were still going to get items from all the Grandparents anyway, which is another reason for limiting what we gave them.

To make Christmas about fellowshipping, love, and family we once again did the Advent Calendar so each day we did something together.

My kids were more than blessed this year and will continue to be for years to come and we can do that with only 3 things under the tree for each of them.

In the words of The Grinch, “Christmas, it seems is so much more”.

Would you ever consider having a 3 gift Christmas?



Yes, that is right, we got 3″ of snow this week.
It was 80 degrees on Monday and on Thursday the rain turned into snow.
Our local weathermen assured everyone that the models were too happy and there would be limited precipitation that would not stick.


And I think God said “oh really?”



Oh it was so beautiful and unexpected. My mom grew up in Minnesota and she had been telling everyone at work that week that it was going to snow and they laughed until they had to drive home in it!

Creation amazes me.

Happy Birthday Gunnar Dee!

Wow, 12 whole months already?!
Gunnar still is not walking, although he is taking a few steps. He has a full mouth of teeth and a wonderful appetite to match.

Since we are trying to adopt a more minimalist lifestyle, we took him to see the lights at the Buda Trail of Lights instead of buying him a gift.

AND- it snowed the day before his birthday so he got to play in super rare Texas snow. Of course he hated it as soon as he tried to craw in it.

We also went to the PEC lights in Johnson City with my mom and neices the day after, so he had a very busy Birthday.


Surviving Harvey-and ways to help.

Harvey hit the coast of Texas as a Category 4 hurricane, which was the first time since Carla in 1961. The area of Rockport was smashed by the massive and slow moving hurricane, which traveled as far north as Cuero with hurricane force winds.


(The water rose another 6″ after these photos were)

We are fortunate to be in Buda TX which was in the Tropical Storm part of Hurricane Harvey, but out of the path of major flooding and destruction, aside from wind damage.
While the coastal areas hit directly suffered terrible damage, the brunt of the calamity was caused by the torrent of rain that quickly fell, and has yet to stop in areas like Houston.

Corey’s family and mine in Pearland has been flooded out of their homes; my family with 1′ of water (and rising as of Monday Evening) and Corey’s cousin  (the ones we went camping with) with a total loss of 5′ of water. Just look on the news to see the amount of people on rooftops. He had other cousins with home damage as well in south Brazoria county- some were halfway submerged and they reached their residence by boat to check.

Corey’s hometown of Sweeny was under such a massive evacuation, even the city workers left. The fire department drove around telling everyone to leave, fearing 3′-10′ of water covering the entire town.

I am grateful for those that have the equipment to volunteer to help out. My brother’s friend drove from Alvin to Houston to help, he may not even make it back home because the flood is rising. Those with boats and large trucks- thank you for being a blessing to strangers. That is humanity. That is being Christ-like, that is love.

Many of us are not able to get there to help, but we can give, we can help those that evacuated and came to our area, wearing nothing but the clothes on their back.

We can all pull together to help. The truth is, we can’t rely on Insurance and FEMA to provide assistance to our neighbors. We do live in a land of excess and more than enough, and right now, some folks lost everything; so “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”-Luke 3:11

And we can go help with clean up when the flooding settles in the days to come. 

Here is a small list of places you can donate to and volunteer with:

Samaritan’s Purse

Austin Pets Alive   You can donate supplies and money here, and if you really want to help- go adopt a flood friend! Austin Pets Alive took in over 200 pets that would have been euthanized because they were in shelters in the path of Harvey.
SPCA Brazoria County– they currently have over 1000 pets that are in need of support!

Texas Diaper Bank

Homeless Shelters in Houston

Houston Food Bank

Corpus Christi Food Bank

You can also donate blood to a local donation spot.

You can also help out by feeding the volunteers and first responders helping out.
The Cajun Army  has been amazing at rescuing people stuck in their homes.

Or get with a group of folks planning on taking items to local shelters for those that can not get into their homes for the days and weeks to come.
Search GoFund Me or YouCaring for local families that you can help directly.

When we went through Joplin, MO after the terrible tornado, we asked for places to donate clothes and were told that the people had no place to store belongings and they really just needed food and a place to lay down while they rebuilt. Give food, give time, give money, just give!

Where ever you decide to donate, check them out online first to make sure your money will not be whittled down to 10% before being given. Charity Watch is a good place to start. According to Business Insider, these groups get the top ratings for giving, local and abroad.

Many of the convention centers are housing the victims of the flood, they may need volunteers to help with handing out supplies. Comfy clothing, sweats, etc are needed for those that do not have a home to return to.

There are many other ways and places you can give assistance, it does not matter where or how- just that you do…and remember that help will be needed for many weeks, months and years to come.
We will rebuild, we will be OK. 




River Road Camping with Cousins

This weekend we camped with Corey’s cousin and his family for the first time.
It was a blast! We had so much fun, even having to tent camp 😉

I grew up around River Road and I have never thought about camping there before so it is funny that out of towners introduced us to this side of camping.

I guess having littles for the past 6 years, we never were planning on tubing so we skipped campsites near there-until now anyway.

This was an appropriate way to celebrate this little man turning 6 months old!

Happy Half Birthday G. 


2PM Coffee Break with homemade marshmallows.


She didn’t want me taking photos of her sunburn and posting them on Facebook. I reminded her that I was on a Facebook break…so they were going on the blog!


C decided that she was going to make her own kayak since she was too little for the real ones.


We actually used the dutch oven this time for an apple pear crisp. It was AMAZING, until we looked for the leftovers only to find the racoons had gotten into it and ate it: RIP crisp.

I was so happy that we used this after lugging it around for 14 years and I sent this to my dad. Of course his reply was “too many coals on top”. I should have asked him before, but I had ZERO service (which is my favorite way to camp). So it was literally a crisp since the top got a bit burnt. It was just extra “campfirey”.IMG_2214IMG_2216


Nothing like food roasted over a fire while watching Finn’s “favorite show”- which was the tubers and kayakers getting stuck on the rapids and trying to make it down the river.


I really truly did not have service, so this is for everyone that thought I was ignoring them all weekend…I sorta was, but I still love y’all.


Poor Finn was asking when we were going to be home as soon as we left. The site at K&L Campsites was only 40 minutes away from our house, but he was snoring by the halfway mark. I love a good day that wears him out!



These cutie cousins had such a great time and were already planning their next trip.


We stayed at the K&L On the River. We had no electric or water and I had to say that I am amazed at the price for that, plus Corey’s cousin paid for early check in, but they still could not set up yet because there were still people in the site. What the reason for allowing people to pay to arrive early is pointless. They also did not give them the reserved site that had water. All told, it was a pretty nice site and the restrooms were cleaner than any state park we have visited, which was impressive. We did not use the showers because you had to pay for use, which we never have experienced because we normally camp at state parks, which has showers for campers. Be prepared to sleep on rocks, there are no tent pads, which is neat because we had 3 tents on the site but does not make for a comfortable sleep (so says my husband who slept on a pallet on the ground.)

We also had the short picnic table so you could not sit on it and get your legs out of it again!



We’re Starting Baby Led Feeding-Weaning

When I say we, I mean Gunnar.

That is the gist of Baby Led Weaning, or BLW. It is not weaning like we American’s use in the traditional sense though. This is a baby weaning ONTO solids, not off milk. I will still be nursing for at least another year or so. The foods he will be trying are for his practice at chewing (or gumming as he is toothless) and putting food to his mouth and tasting different things.

Food before one is just for fun.

I posted on my BBC blog about things we were going to do different this time but this is one thing I did not discover until just a few months ago when I also decided I was not going to pump and give him a bottle.

Here in the US, the baby food companies have marketed to parents their purees in “stages” starting at 4 months. I am guilty of buying in and giving my kids organic cereal and fruit as soon as they could sit up. Chloe got cereal at 4.5 months because we were in a meeting and I was not comfortable nursing in a room with people…I REGRET it so much because knowing what I know now about the gut, it was way too early and maybe why she has cavities and allergies now. (This was also one of my reasons to not pump).

The basics of BLW is giving them sticks or chip sized portions of softish food and letting them play with it when they are ready.

-6 months old (or within a week like we are) and interested in your food
-Sitting unsupported
-Able to bring food to mouth
-No tongue thrust

You do not put food in their mouth for them, you do not grab it when they gag and you watch them.


From what I have read, babies have a gag reflex that is at the front of their mouth, where adults have the reflex at the back. This allows them to gag quicker (which looks terrifying) and not choke. Letting them lead how they eat actually allows them to learn how much to take in sooner than putting a spoon of liquid in their mouth that is swallowed no matter what. There is more of a choke risk going from spoon purees to solids than there is starting at solids. But you must watch them because they can break off a large chunk and there are safety guidelines to follow of course.


We technically started with pears because he grabbed a slice I was eating so I let him lick it. Then I gave him a slice of watermelon which he nommed on.
This steamed bell pepper slice was his first “official” BLW food and he did pretty good with it.
At first, I thought he still had his tongue thrust because he was just licking it. I thought we were going to have to wait a week to try again but then he started sticking it in his mouth and mushing it more. I still don’t think he ate any of it, but that is to be expected.

The next day, I gave him some pear and he mashed that in his mouth as quick as possible.

We are going to go slow because this type of feeding is freaking Corey out and he does not feel Gunnar is ready for “food”. I borrowed the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook from the library so he promised to read it so he can see what to expect since this is so different than us giving a spoonful of mush like we did with the other 3.

The hard part will be watching Finn so he does not give him stuff he is not supposed to eat yet!

Camping at McKinney Falls

We bought our popup camper last year and have been fixing it up and working on organizing it to go on many camping trips.

I plan on documenting our trips as much as I can because I know the kids will grow so fast and these memories will just be memories and forgotten moments at that.

cropped-img_1749.jpgOur spot, #15 was the ONLY site in the entire park that had no trees. You can see that there used to be one but it is long gone. We ended up sunburnt because we have no awning or canopy to get out of the sun.

Lesson learned: Call ahead and request a site with trees.


We moved Gunnar around to stay in the shade. He was singing to the tree stump here.


Corey had to wear G the whole time because I pulled a muscle the day before we left!



Exploring the “cave” on one of the paths. Right before this, we discovered a bee hive in a tree and picked up a chunk of discarded honeycomb.



We had to hike down to “Old Baldy”,which is the oldest cypress in the park. This is as far as you can go because recent flooding washed out the rest of the trail so it was closed.


We met the nicest couple that gave us tips on upgrading from a popup to a hard-side. They also gave the kids this color packet that caused the fire to change colors. Thanks Mitch & Connie from Kilgore (if you ever see this!).



Unfortunately, we either pack too much or still need some organizing…