‘Twas the Week Before Christmas

By: Chaunte McClure

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house, not a sign of the holiday season and there better not be a mouse.

With two Christmas parties down and two to go, there’s no tree, no mistletoe, no candles, no wreath – nothing. And Christmas will be here next week!
I’ll get to it by the middle of this week although it’ll mean that my decorations will only be up for about two weeks. But it’s Christmas time and I have to do something, even if I only put a wreath on the front door. I did buy a poinsettia Thanksgiving weekend for the front porch. I always have good intentions, and sometimes good ideas, but procrastination with my school work this semester has left me at 10 days before Christmas unprepared for the holiday.

My tree has made it out of the attic but not out of the box. I decided to put candles in the
windows tonight but they weren’t where I thought they would be, so I gave up on that idea.

Christmas Tree DressOh dear! I should have done all this the day after Thanksgiving. No worries, it’ll get done before Christmas and maybe I’ll leave all my decorations up past New Year’s Day. And no, I don’t believe it’s bad luck to do so – just tradition in many households.

If you mastered the Christmas tree dress, it’s worth displaying beyond the New Year. They’re so chic and trendy. A big thumbs up to whomever came up with that idea. When I first saw pictures of them on social media last year, I thought it would be neat to try my hands at creating one. One of my Facebook friends mastered the dress tree. She decked it with poinsettias, a few ornaments and an accent bow. What a beauty! There are several tutorials on Pinterest and YouTube to help you create one of your own.

How early do you put up Christmas decorations? How late do you keep them up?

My Favorite Things: Holiday Edition

By: Leah Prescott

If you know me, you know I love LISTS. In fact, I plan to blog soon about my favorite method of life-planning called “notebook journaling” which is essentially creating and collecting lists and lists of lists! Since it is the holiday season, some of the items on this list will be perfect for gift giving; others will be helpful for making the New Year less stressful for your family!

SnowballIndoor Snowball Fight – We are lightening our toy purchases this year for Christmas, but my friend introduced us to these and they are absolutely fabulous. Too light to cause any harm, but somehow heavy enough to really fly through the air, these truly are the closest thing you can imagine to a real, friendly snowball fight. Kids of all ages will enjoy!

Marpac Sound Machines  We are a family that values sleep highly. We make it a point to keep regular bedtime routines for our kids, and when traveling we drag all of our sleep routine items along with us. That includes our Marpac Sound Machines. We are all addicted to the soothing white noise and a calm environment for sleep; and now I don’t have to lug a box fan around everywhere!

Chick-fil-A Cow Calendar –This calendar is a fun (and funny) gift that comes with an offer card to scan each month at the restaurant. Offers include free drinks, fries and nuggets, along with lots of mystery offers. We eat at Chick-fil-A at least once a month so this is a no-brainer. 2016 Calendars are sold out online, but should be available at your local restaurant.

Natural Calm – Since my family has started taking this supplement every day, we’ve had a significant improvement in stomach complaints and anxiety. The inexpensive supplement we use is available on Amazon.

HGTV’s Fixer Upper – I know I’m late to the party, but this show recently came to Netflix streaming and my girls and I are really enjoying it. It’s completely family friendly, which isn’t always the case for other shows in the genre, and moves quickly enough to interest all of us. Now I want to purchase a ramshackle old mansion with the understanding that Chip and Joanna will completely renovate it prior to our moving in.

Instant Pot – I have blogged about this before, but it deserves another mention. I still love it and use it constantly. In fact, I used it twice just today; I hardboiled some eggs for deviled eggs and I made a pot of chili. With 7 functions in 1, this machine should eliminate several other appliances; in fact, it’s like you’re giving multiple gifts at once. The newest version is even blue-tooth enabled!

I considered making this list longer, but I was really trying to stick with things we truly love and recommend. (You can always take a look at last year’s list here for more of my all time favorites.) This has been a year of simplifying for our family, so perhaps my shorter list reflects that. I hope you have a very blessed Christmas Season and a Happy New Year!

Don’t Miss the Midlands’ Largest Drive Through Light Show!

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

For me, it just isn’t Christmas until I’ve seen Holiday Lights on the River at Saluda Shoals Park at least once. This year, I’ve already been twice, and I may end up there again. It’s
that delightful!

Holiday Lights On The River

With a million lights sparkling through more than 400 themes, there are a variety of displays, including the Dazzling Dancing Forest, the Twelve Days of Christmas, a Victorian Village, Old Man Winter and much more. My personal favorite is the holiday train, featuring a special car for naughty kids like me.

You can customize your Holiday Lights experience – stroll through the Winter Wonderland Walking Trail, enjoy the lights in the warmth of your car or bundle up and take a Winter Wonder Ride. This year, I did the November 23rd Sleigh Bell Stroll through the Park, which provided an up-close-and-personal look at each display, as well as fabulous photo ops!

Each evening features a variety of family-friendly activities, including a Red-Nose Express Hayride, the Saluda Shoals Choo-Choo Ride, and of course, visits with Santa!

Holiday Lights is open every evening from 6-10 p.m. now through December 31. If you haven’t been, make plans to visit this year. Or, if you’ve been in the past, it’s time to make Holiday Lights an annual tradition. You’ll love it!

The 12 Days of Christmas….Books

By: Leah Prescott

It’s no secret that we love books in my family. However, if it’s possible, we might love Christmas even more. We love decorating for Christmas, pulling out all the family heirlooms, baking holiday cookies, and singing carols. But when we lug the heavy suitcase full of Christmas books from the attic, all the hustle and bustle seems to fade away. We are all in rapt attention, mesmerized by the same stories told year after year.

Christmas Books

Here are some of my family’s favorite Christmas books, in no particular order. Some of them may be familiar, but we have a few unusual choices that you might also enjoy:

  • The Golden Christmas Tree by Jan Wahl – A sweet folk tale with beautiful illustrations.
  • Walt Disney’s Santa’s Toy Shop by Al Dempster – Vintage Disney charm that reminds me of my grandmother.
  • The Candymaker’s Gift by David & Helen Haidle – The legend of the candy cane as it tells the Christ story.
  • The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs – We just have a small board book, but the story of sacrifice is a beautiful one.
  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams – A longer story for little readers, but this classic can’t be overlooked.
  • The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy by Jane Thayer – This is a year-long favorite for my dog-loving kiddos.
  • Christmas in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder – This is part of the My First Little House book series, which is one of my favorite picture book series of all time. Beautiful illustrations play perfect tribute to the beloved original series.
  • Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas by Jane O’Connor – Sparkle, glitter, and a meaningful lesson…literary perfection!
  • Olive, the Other Reindeer by J. Otto Seibold – Just plain Christmasy cute with flaps, scents and pop-ups!
  • Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry – Charming vintage illustrations with an adorable story about animals sharing Christmas.
  • Lassie, a Christmas Story by Earl Hamner – Another echo from my childhood, this book is reminiscent of the 1950s show with a spiritual lesson as the cherry on top.
  • God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren – Mama polar bear tells baby polar bear all about the first Christmas in a gentle way. I love that this book includes mention of Santa (without breaking the magic), but more importantly points to the manger.

Christmas books

In my mind, you can never have too many Christmas books, so you can bet I’ll pick up more this year, even though our house is bursting at its seems. I’ll be watching Amazon’s list of best-selling Christmas books for children and paying frequent visits to my favorite thrift stores, where I often find them for 10 or 25 cents each!

Merry reading this holiday season!

Fast Forward to Christmas?

By: Chaunte McClure

Now that Halloween has come and gone, let’s fast forward to Christmas, right? At least that seems to be the message from retailers. Actually, I’ve seen signs of Christmas in stores since early October. I was in search of fall décor for my porch, but I was out of luck because the pre-lit twig pumpkin I saw just a month prior was already out of stock and the store was making room for Christmas merchandise. What a bummer. I do have my eyes on an artificial Christmas tree that I spotted in Lowe’s last month.

Holiday seasonThe Christmas season is my favorite time of year. I love seeing twinkling lights and festive holiday décor, hearing sounds of the season and the little ones I love rattle off their Christmas list, and reflecting on why we celebrate such a joyous occasion – the birth of Jesus Christ.

He’s often buried beneath the hustle and bustle of preparing for December 25. We have everything on our minds from holiday travels to shopping to dinner preparation and then, maybe, on Christmas day we give thought to Jesus Christ.

I want to be intentional to focus on the biblical Christmas story throughout the season and have an even greater appreciation for Christ.

But wait! What about Thanksgiving? It’s only a few weeks away and most of us will spend it with our families enjoying dinner, reminiscing, and creating memories. While you’re passing the cranberry sauce or giblet gravy, take time to tell someone that you’re thankful for them and why.

Happy Thanksmas?!

The Magic of Christmas Delivered Via a Snow Man

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

It was a cold, rainy Christmas Eve, and I was more than a little down. It was our fourth Christmas season without Dad, but it seemed to be the most difficult one yet. The season seemed to sneak up on me, and I was totally unprepared. The weather was horrible. And Snowman feederquite frankly, I just wasn’t feeling the spirit of Christmas. All of that changed as I pulled into the driveway that afternoon.

Something on the front porch caught my eye. It was a large snowman bird feeder, complete with a large red bow. I figured someone had left a gift for us, and I walked in through the front door to check it out.

On the snowman, there was a letter to “The Baldauf Sisters” that read: “Yesterday I lived with another. Before that, I lived with yet another. Starting today, my home is with you. But only for the next 364 days. Why you? It’s because the place I lived before thinks the world of you. Next Christmas Eve, it’ll be your turn to share the spirit of Christmas with someone whose light shines as brightly as yours.”

I broke down in happy tears, touched that someone had thought of us in such a delightful way. Our anonymous Santa blessed us with magic of Christmas that we were so lacking, and to whoever they are, I thank them profusely. I can’t wait until next Christmas Eve to return the favor.

Christmas Books

By: Leah Prescott 

Christmas books are one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. I have a large collection of vintage classics and newer favorites that I’ve read to my children again and again. Some, like “Frosty the Snowman,” are books my parents read to me years ago and the words are as familiar as the ornaments passed down from generation to generation. Others are funny and silly and make my toddler smile, like “Snowmen at Night.”

Christmas books

There is one particular book that will always hold special meaning to our family. Though not a book I would normally have chosen for our collection, it has become very dear to me over the last few years. This book is called “Silent Night.” It’s a huge board book with glossy thick pages, and a bright yellow star button that plays music and lights up the entire page as the words tell the story of Jesus’ birth. And it just so happens that we have two identical copies of the exact same book.

Christmas books

One day when my twins were a little over one, we were doing some holiday shopping at Sam’s Club. I was trying to find gifts for family members as well as groceries for the next few busy weeks, all while wrangling twin toddlers at the height of flu season. To say I was stressed is a huge understatement. While I tried to shop, I gave the girls each a book from the toy section to occupy their attention. A woman approached me and started talking to me about the girls. I don’t remember much about our conversation but I remember her kindness. A few minutes later she found me at the front of the store and pressed $25 into my hand. She wanted to buy those two books for my girls.

Christmas books

I was amazed and touched. Seven years later I am still amazed and touched. I don’t remember that stranger’s face or know her name but I will never forget her sweet, unexpected gift. For me, that gesture meant so much more than two identical books for my children. It meant much more than the amount on the receipt. It meant that someone saw me, where I was that day. She saw me and cared about me enough to stop and chat. On a day when I was tired and discouraged and overwhelmed to the point of tears, that woman showed me the love of Jesus right in the checkout line of Sam’s Club. And I will always remember it.

Last night I read Silent Night yet again, this time to my little son. I told all three children the story of a stranger giving us a gift that meant so much to me. I’m reminded that we can show God’s love in unexpected ways, and it can make a lasting impact, even on a stranger. I’m reminded that even small acts of kindness can point people to the greater Gift of the Season.

An Every Woman Blog Reunion

Every Woman BloggerLast week, we hosted a dinner for the Every Woman Bloggers to celebrate the holidays and thank them for their dedication to our blog! It was a fun evening full of delicious food, wonderful stories, and a fun ornament exchange.

Our bloggers provide us with inspiration as they handle being mothers, wives, professionals, sisters, friends, and providers. Please join us in thanking them for sharing their lives with us!

Help Lexington Medical Center Reach 100,000 Views!

Have you seen Lexington Medical Center’s 2014 Christmas commercial yet? From thoughts about parenthood to the Christmas season, the commercial focuses on the importance of family – all from a baby’s perspective. We’re hoping to share this uplifting message of hope, health and joy with as many people as possible during the holidays. Our goal is 100,000 views. Please help us by watching the video on Facebook (here) and sharing the post with your family and friends.

Lexington Medical Center Christmas Commercial

This year’s commercial was filmed on the hospital campus. The 60-second spot features LMC staff members including doctors and nurses, and a cast of babies who were all born at the hospital. Children of LMC employees have speaking roles as the voices of the babies.

The commercial also highlights the exceptional maternity services at the hospital. Lexington Medical Center delivers more babies than any other hospital in the Midlands, and has been voted “Best Place to Have A Baby” by readers of Midlands news publications.

From our Lexington Medical Center family to yours, Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas from Lexington Medical Center

We’re pleased to present Lexington Medical Center’s 2014 Christmas commercial!

Filmed on the hospital campus, the 60-second spot focuses on the importance of family – all from a baby’s perspective.

You might recognize several LMC staff members. The babies in the commercial were born at our hospital. And, children of LMC employees have speaking roles.

Lexington Medical Center was voted “Best Hospital to Have A Baby” by readers of The State newspaper this year, and they deliver more babies than any other hospital in the Midlands.

You can watch the commercial on the hospital’s You Tube channel or during your favorite Christmas TV show this holiday season.

From our LMC family to yours, Merry Christmas.