How To Celebrate Easter During COVID-19

Hey guys! Chantelle here. It’s been a couple months since I have written and boy has a lot happened! We are currently in the middle of a global pandemic and the world is at a standstill. We have healthcare workers on the frontlines caring for the sick as well as essential businesses still in operation. To all those on the frontlines including healthcare workers, grocery workers, restaurants offering to-go orders, post office, shipping and delivery workers … THANK YOU! These guys are on the frontlines everyday. I know I speak for many when I say I am praying for your safety and protection.

COVID-19 coronavirus concept. Protective mask and pill capsules for treatment of COVID-19. Novel corona virus outbreak, epidemic spread in world. Coronavirus medicine on wooden table.

Covid-19 and Air pollution pm2.5 concept.Little chinese girl wearing mask for protect pm2.5 and show stop hands gesture for stop corona virus outbreak.Wuhan coronavirus and epidemic virus symptoms.

Covid-19 has brought many cancellations from the NBA, to all major corporations moving to work from home status for their teams to the closure of schools across the globe. Though many are scared and afraid of the future, I am hopeful that God is doing something so big right now, something so big that our minds just can’t fathom what he has planned, but I am waiting with great expectation to see what our mighty God will do!! This Sunday is Easter and for the first time in this last Century the world will be asked to celebrate Easter from the comfort of your home. How do you plan on celebrating? Do you plan on attending church online? Cooking a special meal for your family? Doing an egg hunt at your home? I would love to hear what you have planned for your family! This blog will give you some ideas that you can take home to your family to Celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ… just because we are on quarantine doesn’t mean Easter is cancelled. In fact, the church is alive and well!!!

Church Online Service

Churches across the globe are doing services online! Find a local church to you by googling Christian Church Online and see what local churches pop up. If you already have a home church they most likely have online services planned. Get plugged in and find out the details so you do not miss a wonderful at home Easter Experience! Many churches will offer more than one service time so you can find something that works best for your family, early risers catch an early morning service, late risers catch the late morning service or an afternoon one. The most important thing is that you are gathering as a family and celebrating that Jesus is Alive!

Church Faith Religious Temple Worship Assembly Concept

Happy couple doing business together working at home on the laptop.

Easter Activities & Fun!

Easter wouldn’t be complete without an egg hunt or some arts and crafts to make the day special for the kiddos. Here are some fun ideas that are great for the whole family:

  • Egg Hunt
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Decorating Easter Eggs
  • Easter Themed Paint Day or Paint Night

Egg Hunt – Egg hunts are pretty explanatory, find your reusable plastic eggs, fill them with treats and hide them around the house. Our church has a set time for our kids to do their egg hunt to create unity and we will be sharing photos with a hashtag.  If you have a single family home, do your private egg hunt either in your front yard or backyard for more space!

Little girl playing in sunny garden. Baby on Easter egg hunt in flower meadow. Toddler child with decorated basket picking colorful eggs, chocolate and sweets. Kids play outdoors. Fun for children.

Scavenger Hunt – use plastic eggs which include clues to find the next egg or item, each egg could have a clue but also a scripture for the kids to read. By the end, they find their Easter Basket Surprise! This can be done inside your home or in your private front or backyard.

Decorating Easter Eggs – have fun and be creative, you can do traditional Easter egg color dye, water color paint or acrylic paint! For younger children, stickers and decor kits are helpful. To avoid stepping out, try ordering supplies from Amazon for each delivery to your door!

Easter eggs painting process. Feminine hands with paint brushes on a white background. Cozy warm colors. Top view.

Cute little children painting eggs for Easter at table

Easter Themed Paint-Day or Paint Night – Eggs are the only things you can paint, how about a themed paint party? The whole family can enjoy painting Easter bunnies, beautiful eggs or any spring themed painting on construction paper or canvas. These are always my favorite because not only it is something fun for the family to do together, but they create lasting memories and keepsakes! Some of my favorite artworks are canvas paintings done by my kiddos.

Family Pictures on Easter

Who says we can’t get Spring photos done this year? If you have a wonderful frontyard or backyard landscape, pull out the camera, dress the kids up and voila! You’ve got yourself a DIY Easter photoshoot. No yard? No problem, don’t let that stop you … find your favorite spot in your home, maybe it’s by a window for good lighting or on your porch. Add props from your home for a Spring touch, maybe some fun Easter baskets or flowers. Whatever fits your personality and mood will work! The most important thing is that the family is having fun and you are creating memories for everyone! Getting some great photos is just a bonus!

Happy family spending time together during Easter holiday at home

As you can see, shelter in and our stay at home orders, might keep us physically distant from others, but in our homes we get a chance to focus on time with the family, I hope these ideas inspire you for Easter Sunday! It surely has inspired me to write this! We are in this together everyone, so let’s keep the faith and spread positivity during this very difficult time. Remember, Jesus is alive and Easter Sunday is our reminder of that. Happy Easter to all who are reading this and may you stay healthy and safe during Covid-19. In this together!

To read about more about Easter, click here.

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Christmas 2019 In the Books!

Hey friends! It’s Chantelle here. I know I have not been on here in a very, very long time. Life has been so busy. I have found myself wanting to get back to writing and blogging and so with the start of the year and a new decade, here I am! I do want to touch on my goals for 2020 and inspire you to make some for the new year and decade, but first I’m going to take this time to reflect on Christmas 2019 and what I enjoyed this year, what I am enjoying about this season of my life and hopefully to write something that I can treasure always. I think it’s important for us to either journal or write because it helps us to keep the memories alive! Years later it will be amazing to go back and read about the memories made!

Christmas 2019 … Starting Early!

I caught the Christmas bug early this year, I took out the decorations and I had bought 50-75% off last year and was ready to decorate. We got our tree as early as we could and from the start of the season, we were going out and seeing Christmas lights, playing Christmas music, watching Home Alone, Grinch and all of our favorite Holiday movies. To me Christmas is really the most wonderful time of the year! This year I was into a Winter Wonderland vibe, lots of white, silver, neutrals like gold, rose gold and even a little bit of blue to pop, what were you into?

Coffee cup over Christmas lights bokeh in home on wooden table with sweater on a background and decorations. Winter mood, holiday decoration, magic Christmas.

Christmas decor in the house

christmas decorations against blurred lights background. winter holiday background

The Real Reason For The Season

It’s important though as a Christian to remember the real reason for the season and that simply is Jesus. Did you know that we actually don’t know the exact birth of Jesus? It is still okay to say Happy Birthday Jesus on Christmas as it is the recognized time to celebrate our Savior’s birth. I just thought that was interesting, I never thought about actually researching that idea until I heard from my Pastor say that it wasn’t probably the time of his actual birth. Wikipedia does a great job of stating the facts of why December 25th was chosen and you can read more about that here.

Christian nativity scene glowing in heavenly rays of light with the baby Jesus glowing in the center.

1 John 4:9, NIV: “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.”

As I reflect on Christmas and this reality of God showing us how much he loves us. He took form of man, to be born like his creation, to live with his creation. He has felt of all the emotion and pain that we do as humans. He understands human emotion. That is a God that loves us so much, that he wanted to come down to walk among us, to understand us, to create a way in which we would be able to have the Spirit of Christ in us always. If you are not a Christian, I welcome you to seek truth for yourself. God loves you and he has sent Jesus his only son (and God in the form of man) to save you. I encourage you to visit a local Christian church to find out more about our Savior Jesus.

Favorite Things About Christmas

I’ve realized I have a thing for cozy socks! I don’t own very many of them myself but man, do I love to give them as gifts! I also love gift giving! During the year and with birthdays I am the worse … I am the gift card person, the last minute shopper and I’ve realized I need to be more thoughtful when it comes to Birthdays. For Christmas, it’s different! I absolutely LOVE shopping for my loved ones. I love to find things for my children and all my nieces and nephews that reflect their personality whether it be a toy, book, pajamas or clothing! It’s just fun for me and definitely a love language that comes out for me during the holidays!!! We have a big family so in order to keep our wishlists in order, manage our Secret Santa (for the grown ups) and to not duplicate gifts being bought for the kiddos, this year I got my entire family to use a wonderful website and app called Giftster. I highly recommend you look them up if you have a big family and what to ensure you are giving gifts that your family will love! This wonderful website and app gives you the ability to do the following:

  • Create Wishlist for yourself and your kids
  • Manage a Secret Santa for your group
  • Shop directly from people’s wishlist with links or store recommendations

It simply was the best thing we have found! In past years, we suffered through text threads regarding children’s wishlists … where we would have to dig to find who wanted what and who already bought what. I wasn’t going to suffer through that headache again!!! Get on Giftster or any other gifting app and I promise you will thank me!!

What are your secrets to gift giving and shopping? I would love to here what works for you!

stylish christmas presents in lights on wooden table on background of christmas tree in festive illumination on eve. space for text. modern craft gift in evening room. merry christmas

And I had to include a photo of some cozy winter socks!!!

Female legs in warm knitted soft cozy christmas socks and garland with illuminated lights in wintertime at home. Copy space

Vegas For The Holidays!

Our family all traveled to Vegas to spend Christmas with my family. This was huge and I was nervous about it. I knew going in that my parents recently agreed by lead of my brother to downsize from their current home. This means we would be saying goodbye to a home that we have built memories in for 15 years. This would most likely be the last moments I spend in the house unless I travel back to help my parents pack up which is not certain.

I also come from a big family and this was going to be all my siblings and their families (spouses and children), my parents and some local relatives spending Christmas together. That always means some kind of crazy …

Was it crazy? Yes. Did it drive me crazy? Yes, by Day 3 I was ready to go home!!! It’s inevitable, there are a few fights with my sisters really over nothing major and you know certain personalities that you clash with. At the end of the day, they are my family and I am sure every family is like this … we love them, we pray for each other and we love each other unconditionally even though we drive each other a little nuts!

Christmas Day was absolutely wonderful though, no fights, everyone was happy and joyful. We had a lovely Christmas meal. In the morning before we got dressed and ate, we opened presents and that is so fun with our family because we go all out and go crazy with presents! You hear excitement, the wrestling of paper, the thank you’s, the hugs, the laughter. It truly is a moment that I wish we could press pause and live in for a little longer. The kids and their excited expressions and “whooooaaah!” with every box they open. It’s just magical!

My favorite part about Christmas morning prior to presents with the whole family, was seeing my boys 9 and 7 wake up in Grandmas house, run down to the tree to see what Santa brought them. I’m following behind them taking a video to capture their every reaction on film. My 9 year old knows that Santa isn’t real but he plays along for his brother who still believes. How sweet is that? My youngest gets a toy he hoped for and is so excited and my oldest gets a panda sleeper he wanted and I am so blessed to enjoy and soak these moments in as a mama. After gifts from Santa and me taking pictures of them, I ask my youngest to check if Santa ate the cookies and milk. He runs over to the fireplace and I tape him as he explains to me how Santa becomes tiny to get through the chimney, past all of Nani’s picture frames on her fireplace to then get in and enjoy the cookies and milk. It truly is a moment I won’t ever forget. This my friend, is enjoying your season of life. My boys are growing fast and I wish I had a pause button. Where ever you are in life, enjoy the season you are in. God has purpose in every season and I’m not missing a single moment!

Ecclesiastes 3:1 New International Version (NIV) “There is a time for everything,and a season for every activity under the heavens”

All in all, it was a pretty good Christmas and one for the books. We spent Christmas enjoying my parents home for the last time, all my siblings were in town and together and memories were made. We are beginning the process of packing things up for my parents and since I’m not local, I am seeing photos and hearing stories about my brother going through the boxes with my parents. He said to me today … “Though we cry and are sad, I am so happy to be doing this with Mom and Dad.” He has been sending photos and we are laughing at what they are finding. I encouraged him to let them cry but to also enjoy the walk down memory lane! Letting go can be hard, but if we learn to enjoy those seasons of life in the moment … when it is time to let go, we will always have those sweet memories forever in our hearts and minds, also a photo or keepsake helps too. If you are in the process of needing to let something go, I encourage you friend to trust God for whatever chapter you need to close because once you let go, there will be a new chapter he’s ready to open for you. With that, I will leave you to say Happy New Year 2020 and happy new decade!

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

To read about my Christmas a few years ago, click here.

Blessings!

Chantelle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tree Of Life

Hey there friends!! I have been thinking a lot about trees lately. I know that sounds funny but since I have recently had a revelation in my faith and God has opened my eyes to his beauty and truth, I am able to soak in the wonders of this world God has created for us. Trees, are so amazing! If you read my page that talks a little about me, you know that my parents used to run a business where they sold artificial Christmas trees. My blog name gives a nod to my parents, our family history and the fact that I love Christmas and of course above all Jesus!! When I became an environmentalist, I urged my parents to convert to real Christmas trees, so now we are doing the “green thing”! With that said, it just reminds me of the beauty of this world and how trees really contribute a lot to it. A Christmas tree is so special in our culture and creates memories for our families and leaves us in awe when its lit and decorated. Trees outside in nature, some that have been around for hundreds of years provide us shade, wood, paper (when cut down and recycled for us) and even tree houses and something to hang our tire swings on. Trees are beautiful and amazing creations by God!

Take a look at some of these amazing trees around the world:

rainbow tree

Photo Credit: www.ebay.com

This is the Rainbow Eucalyptus! It is native to countries such as the Philippines, Papa New Guinea and Indonesia. It is known for it’s multi-colored bark which feature hues of purple, blue, orange and maroon! It is truly an amazing work of art by God!

Revelation 22:14  “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”

To read more about this colorful tree click here.

cool tree

Photo Credit: www.wikipedia.org

Take a look at this!!! This is the Baobab Tree found in the Limpopo Province of South Africa! This tree stores water in it’s trunk, up to 32,000 gallons to prepare for drought season. Isn’t that just majestic?! What’s also great about this tree is it produces Coconut which supplies our food system with many nutrients. Are you seeing God’s amazing work and how his creations feed other creations. That is the cycle of life. It is safe to say God really thought about every detail when creating our world.

“For as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth, and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower, and bread to the eater.” Isaiah 55:10

This tree journey leads me to think about a friend of mine who owns a tree service business. As an arborist he absolutely loves trees, but just like humans, the health needs to be maintained and decay needs to be trimmed. That is where his expertise comes in. We all love trees and what they provide for us, but someone has to take care of them, just like God takes care of us!!!

When was the last time you sat under a tree and soaked up all it’s beauty? Maybe take some time today to look at your favorite tree in your neighborhood (I’m picturing mine), think about how many years it’s been there and what it provides for your town. I hope you find God’s truth and beauty in this exercise. Let me know how it goes?!

“And he shewed me a pure river of a water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Revelations 22:1-2

Until our next chat … God Bless,

Chantelle

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Can You Hear Him?

Hi guys! Chantelle here … Wow, I’m sorry for the lapse of blogging, but life has been pretty crazy over at our household!! The last time I blogged it was about saving up for the holidays and boy since then life has been a whirlwind … but for the good!!

Today, I wanted to blog about what’s personally been happening in my life. The reason for that, is as I mentioned I am a Christian and the past six months God has completely changed things around for our family. I’m going to be posting about discerning God’s voice and how that can open your eyes to a whole new world! If you are believer already, this may or may not be new news for you. If you are a Christian but not sure you are living out your God-given purpose, then this article is perfect for you to read! If you do not have a relationship with Jesus, some of the things in this article may not make sense to you, but let me reassure you, God loves you and he has sent his one and only son Jesus to save you. Please continue reading! So, without further ado, let’s do this!!!!!

What ways does God speak to us? In my testimony I will break down different ways we can hear from God so that you can learn to discern when God is speaking to you.

God Speaks to Us through Others

About mid-summer I began to feel like I was running out of steam, living life by just keeping my head above water, balancing being a full time working mother and wife. I’m sure many of you can relate. That’s when I really began to listen to the sermons at church and I began to press and pray. I knew life wasn’t meant to drain you, to exhaust you and to stress you out, but this is how I was feeling, everyday! I would wake up, just to go through the routine of working a job that I had lost my passion for, to then come home and be an exhausted mother to my children, struggling through homework. My husband and I would both be so tired that we wouldn’t have any communication and we both would hit a wall of exhaustion to finally end our day. Reflecting on this makes me sad but so thankful that God opened my eyes. As I went to church and got my spirit fed, the lord began to speak to me through the sermons. I realized what my problem was, I wasn’t relying on God to get through life, instead I was doing it on all my own! The message that day was about people that get “Burnt Out” and of course, that was me! My Pastor preached how it is easy to get consumed with all our responsibilities, so how do we make it through? We rely on God. I started to think, am I relying on God? Or am I just spinning my wheels just trying to keep my head above water. I knew I didn’t have my priorities in life right. Instead of starting with God, I was starting with my “Job”! I was doing everything in my power to ensure my job was intact, work was getting done but in the end, it would exhaust me and consume me. I was getting home late, missing out on dinner with the family and missing quality time and moments with my boys. I will never forget when the Pastor said, “If this is you, if you are burnt out and trying to do life on your own … that’s not the gospel.” I sank!!! That message pierced my heart! I couldn’t believe how much that message applied to me, I knew God was speaking to me! The Holy Spirit began to convict me. I began being physically sick when I would go to work. At first I thought, okay … maybe it’s just that I’m not content anymore, but I knew it was much more than that. I knew God was working but I wasn’t sure in what way? I sought the counsel of my sisters in Christ, the ladies from my Small Group as well as my husband. God is so good and even designed a perfect morning for me to spend time with my Pastors which gave my husband and I a chance to seek wisdom and advice from them on what I was going through. I was on a mission to find my God-Given Purpose and was God trying to get to me to say “Hey … I have another life for you! Lean in and trust me, rely on me!”

Jeremiah 29:11 New International Version (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

friends

God Speaks to Us through Our Circumstances

Now that I had sought wise counselors around me and my husband and I were in sync, we just kept praying on it. We prayed that God would give us signs … signs to know should I leave or should I go? What would you like me to do Lord? I knew I was unhappy, but I didn’t want to leave on my terms. It had to be on God’s terms. I had to submit! My husband and I had discussed that I could work part-time, as long as I found a part-time job, he would be okay with me leaving my full time job. We both prayed, we both asked for signs. God delivered!!! He continued to speak to us through sermons and finally in a circumstance. The following day after praying for a sign, I was called into my boss’s office and was told I was no longer going to be a Team Leader and that I was not going to be receiving the team they had been promising me. That was definitely God sending me a sign through a circumstance! My husband and I started praying for a part time opportunity that I could work from home or while the kids were in school. Our goal was to eliminate childcare during the week and instead replace those funds to be used for our basic necessities of rent, food, etc. This was a bold move for us! Let me tell you I was so excited to see my husband step in faith and let go from trying to control our finances. We both submitted in areas where we were not relying on God, this was huge and we knew God was going to continue to move!!!

Proverbs 3:5-6 New International Version (NIV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.[a]

trees lined up on dirt road

God Speaks to Us Through Scripture

At this time of the story, we’re now about in Mid October and my husband and I were leading a Small Group of our own. Leading that small group changed our lives! God was speaking to us through our study and through the scripture the teacher of the study was presenting to us. My heart was beginning to transform!!!! I began to fall in love with Jesus in a way I had never done before. Again, my eyes were opened! The whole theme of the study was about how God has this crazy love for us, so how do we show that love back? For us, it was perfect, we were ready to submit to God and we knew he was listening to our prayers! Our Small Group family joined in on praying for opportunity for me! Prayer in numbers, moves mountains!!!

Colossians 1:23 New International Version (NIV)

23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

bible

God Speaks to us Visually

I’m a visual person … so I have learned as I have matured in my walk, God will speak to me through images. I had been searching for a few months looking for part time opportunities, but nothing was coming through and I wasn’t getting any responses, until one day I saw the perfect job posting for me! I had been telling my husband that if I could find a freelance opportunity in my line of work, that that would be the perfect fit for me! Low and behold, I stumbled upon a job posting that was exactly what I was looking for. This is how great God works and how he connects things for us! The company was a familiar name to me. I knew some colleagues of mine (in pretty prestigious ranks) that left a prior company we all worked for, for this exact company. But, this was YEARS ago! What are the chances they are still there? I went onto the company website and clicked on the “About Us/ Meet The Executives” page and there it was! God gave me an image of the two women who I worked with so closely, they both were high level executives at this company!!! How awesome is that?! I immediately applied, filled out the online application, mentioned the names of my colleagues and left it in God’s hands. No coverletter, no resume, just pure faith!!!!!

Hebrews 11 New International Version (NIV)

Faith in Action

11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Waterfall

God Speaks to Us Through a Feeling

To finish the story, I’m sure you might have guessed it by now. I was offered the job! The pay was more than what I was currently getting, it was freelance so that meant I could choose the jobs I wanted and when to work them. Before accepting the position, we prayed some more asking God if this was the right opportunity for me. It was so clear in the numbers. I will never forget, it was 1am in morning and I was looking at the part time hours I was being offered, the pay and compared it to what I was making currently full time and paying childcare. I instantly knew again through the image of the numbers and a feeling in my heart (kinesthetic sense) that God was speaking to me. He was clearly showing me that this was the way to go! I would be bringing in more money for our family fund by working only 30 hours a month just on the weekends rather than working full time and paying childcare. I was floored and it was mind boggling to me that we never sat down to think about this before. It since has been five months and this change has been so fulfilling for me! My priority is my relationship with Jesus! He is constantly on my mind, he is consuming me in the most beautiful way! I have never felt my heart like this before. It’s like I’m finally living and I can finally say … “I get it!” I was put on this earth to serve my God. I believe this is just the beginning of my journey to find my God-Given purpose. Each day, I feel like he is revealing more and more to me. I’m continuing to pray on it. In the meantime, I am enjoying his creations, the sunlight I never saw while I was working full time, spending hours in prayer, devotionals and worshiping him during the week. I’m also serving on the Dream Team at church and coaching 4 small group leaders!! I’m also enjoying the cuddles and all the time I get at home with my boys being a stay at home mom during the week. It’s truly a dream  come true for me. All from me pressing in, praying and making God my first priority. It’s really true, when you seek, pray, submit and obey God … he opens doors and he provides! This year has already been such a journey and I have my God to thank for that!!! All Glory to Jesus Christ!!

Romans 8:28 New International Version (NIV)

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

family

There are many other ways God can speak to you, some people here him audibly. I am not one of those people! My advice for anyone who is trying to discern God’s voice is to start with prayer. The more and more intimate you are with God, the more you will start to recognize his voice. Praying for you friend!

To read more about my story when I first began this blog, click here. For an interesting Easter read, give this a try! Enjoy!

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Five Tips For Saving On Your Holiday Shopping!

Hi guys! Chantelle here, I must say, it’s been quite the summer. We camped, we swam, we vacationed, we rode roller coasters and we soaked up the sun! My kids have returned back to school this week and so for us summer is now the past. Are you still enjoying summer? I’d love to hear how your summer went or if you are still enjoying it, what will be your last “shabang” before school starts? Click here to let me know!

blog picture

With the transition to “Back To School”, and retail stores beginning to bring in Halloween costumes, sweaters and jackets for cold weather … I couldn’t help but think to myself that Christmas, my favorite time of year, will be here before we know it. Yeah sure it’s August, but in a blink of an eye … we will writing out our holiday to-do-list and shaking our heads on why we didn’t properly budget for the holiday season. So in this blog post, I will be giving you 5 tips on how you can save, plan and prepare for your holiday shopping! It’s never to early to get started! Here we go …

Tip #1: 

Lists & Strategy Planning for Each Month

If you are like our family and you have to stick to a budget each month, then you know making a list or putting a strategy together on how you will achieve everything you need to, starts with budgeting. If you split out holiday shopping from September through November, then you won’t feel like you wiped out your savings all in December! After your normal budget is complete, come up with 2-3 gifts you would like to purchase for that month. Put a specific dollar amount aside for those gifts. This may take some creativity if your normal budget doesn’t allow much wiggle room, but better 2-3 gifts or even 1-2, then 10 all at once.

Tip #2:

Be Resourceful, check your wallet for gift cards or coupons that are sitting and waiting to be used!

If you were gifted a gift card, but never used it – this can be a great way to save yourself the cash and use that gift card to purchase a gift for someone on your list. I know, it’s sort of re-gifting, but in a way, it’s smart. How many coffee mugs do you need from Starbucks? Instead, wouldn’t you be able to purchase your student’s teacher a nice coffee mug or use the balance of a Target gift card or Old Navy card towards your nieces and nephews or your own children? Movie tickets for a Secret Santa Exchange? Crate and Barrel for your sister-in-law? Take advantage of rewards points, Cartwheel coupons at Target, Promo sales where possible, but only where it fulfills the purpose, not for extra shopping! This is key! What’s in your wallet?

blog picture 1

Tip #3: 

Get Creative With Gift Giving!

This can mean a number of things, from being super crafty and making gifts, to deciding to bake something for someone. Making gifts are many times often less costly and are usually more personal. I tend to feel more special when people actually take the time to make or create something for me. If you have a gift of baking, bake a pie or cookies! If you crochet, make a blanket, beanie or scarf for a loved one! Own those God given talents and use it for good! My sister crocheted my two boys elf hats last year and I absolutely went crazy for them! These are gifts that can be done at home, meaning you don’t have to deal with the hustle and bustle and your material costs is really the main cost, some of which you might have already!

blog picture 3

Tip #4 

Consider Shopping Online For Loved Ones Far Away

I learned this the hard way. Last year I bought things in a store and then shipped them myself for my friend’s little boy. Big no no! The shipping cost was almost more than the gift itself! When gifting for those who are not local to you, it’s smart to utilize the convenience of online shopping. Shop on a Monday, and many online retailers have additional discounts. The best Monday to shop would be “Cyber Monday“, the Monday after Thanksgiving but retailers even have some discounts on any normal Monday as well. Retailers use the Cyber Monday idea to drive sales because typically it is a slow day for shopping in general as people shop more heavily on the weekends. You can find discounts from 30%-40% off usually! If you hit a certain dollar point, you can also score free shipping. If you are a Amazon Prime member then you know the free 2 day shipping feature and also Walmart also has the same benefit now too! Happy online shopping and again straight from your home without the hustle and bustle! Do not shop for yourself, stay focused and remember your purpose and budget!

Tip #5: 

Do Something for Humanity! 

Okay so this tip is a little bit different. I’m inspired this year to do something that gives back to the community! Volunteering doesn’t cost money so why not give your time to something that matters this holiday season? I recently volunteered for Open Heart Kitchen where I helped to serve food for the elderly. It felt good to give back. How have you volunteered lately? This year, I am inspired by a good friend of mine, my dear friend Lacey and owner of Pleasanton House Cleaning Co.  Lacey runs her business by day but her heart is truly with the homeless and giving back. Every holiday season, she partners with a local church, gathers up volunteers and feeds a large part of the local homeless community by providing a warm Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. It’s selfless, it shows the grace and love for others and I bet she makes an impact that lasts a lifetime on those families each year. So what will you do to make a difference this holiday season? I would love to hear! Shoot me a note here.

I hope you find these tips helpful! Now, let’s do some planning, saving and shopping! For tips on Back To School, click here. To read about my Christmas last year, click here. To read about Easter, click here. Thank you for reading my blog! Xo, Chantelle

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Back To School Frenzy!

Hi all,

Chantelle here! How are you all dealing with the fact that summer is ending? How are you all preparing for Back To School? As a Mom of two boys, a second grader and a TK-er, I thought it would be fun to give you my tips on how to deal with Back to School, summer work (what?!), back to school clothes, supplies, meal ideas and more!

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5 Tips for Dealing with “BTS” (Back To School)

Tip #1: Summer Work – First of all, it’s summer and why do we need to do any work? Let me explain. For children who are learning to read, it is important to make sure they keep up their reading during the summer break. Speak with your child’s teacher prior to the school year and ending and find out what DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment) level they are at. Purchase books from an educational source or use your local library to help you find books that are at your child’s DRA level. Since it’s summer, pick just a few nights a week for your child to read. By reading over summer break, this helps keeps their brains active and they won’t have a slow re-start once school is back up.

Tip #2: School Shopping Prep – This is a fun one! As a child growing up, I really only remember school shopping as a teenager. I remember my mother taking my twin sister and I to our favorite clothing store, and letting us go wild on the cutest trends! As a parent myself, I tend to ask myself, is back to school shopping really necessary? Especially if you are on a budget? My answer to that is yes, but there is always a balance. For me, I tend to shop more for my oldest because of obvious reasons, they are biggest and the younger brother gets the hand-me-downs. So that’s where I start! There are multiple steps in this tip so bare with me as I break them down. I just did this in my household so I know this will be super helpful!

Steps to School Clothes Prep: 

  1. Clear out dresser and closet of clothes that do not fit, as a good rule of thumb, you should do this at least every six months, but ideally each season is good. If you can do it four times a year, you will eliminate clutter and you will function more efficiently.
  2. Make a list of what is needed to be replaced, basics like underwear, socks, then fashion like pants and shirts etc based on how much is being thrown out. Do this for each child.
  3. When ready to shop, put a budget together. Plan to shop during Back to School sales, or look up consignment shops (and sell your gently used clothing). Another good ideas for extra cash for new clothes shopping is to have a yard sale. If you live in a high traffic area, you can make a good dollar amount off clothing that is still in good shape!
  4. Be creative, for my boys, I cut their old jeans that are getting too short into shorts. The beginning of the year is still hot, so the extra pair of shorts carries them for a month at least until I really need to buy new pants. This is a big cost saving tip for the beginning of the year!

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Tip #3: Ask Questions at Enrollment or Email Teacher Prior

Ok so I had a parent failure on this one. My little one started Transitional Kinder this year and I didn’t THINK I needed to pack him a snack. I was wrong! My poor baby was the only child without a snack and though he was fine, he admitted to me he was a little sad. Though, the school and his teacher did not give out any information about providing a snack for your child, I take full responsibility for not asking. I should have assumed he needed one or just right out packed him a snack just in case. I apologized to my son and he forgave me. Never feel like you can’t ask a question, better to be over prepared than to have your child feel left out. Big lesson for me!!

Tip # 4: Get Information on Supplies Needed At enrollment, if the school has a supplies list, make sure to grab that for your child’s grade. I have two children and I spent about $30 on supplies. Keep in mind, one of my boys is in TK, so the amount of supplies needed goes up as your child gets older. It’s good to budget about $50 for supplies just for a little extra cushion. If you have extra from that amount, put it towards school clothes. At many schools, the supplies are asked as “donation” so each family does not need to feel pressured to purchase if it is not in their budget to. Your district may not have this at all, the key is, get the information ahead of time so you can donate or provide if you would like too! Extra Tip – check dollar stores first, then hit up the big retailers afterwards. 

Tip # 5: Save Money & Time By Participating In a Meal Train for Dinners

This is a great idea for both parents who work. If you gather up a few families and coordinate a meal train, you could have a wonderful cooked meal ready in minutes every night! The idea is, each family cooks on one night of the week in bulk. You hand out portions to the other families and in return, you get their portions of what they cooked. Then, freeze them! Each night you just defrost one of the meals, and voila! A yummy home cooked meal. And… if you live in a melting pot like I do, chances are you will have food from all over the world! It’s a pretty cool idea!

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Back To School prep includes so much more like coordination of schedules, pick ups, after school care, etc etc. I hope that these 5 tips help to ease some of the madness! To learn more about me or read about my Christmas and Easter, visit this page! 

Thanks for reading my blog! Xo, Chantelle

 

 

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Easter Is Coming!

With Christmas long gone away … and today the first day of Spring, I thought it would be fitting to write about something that has recently been on my mind. It’s the topic of the Easter Bunny and the connection to Jesus and his Resurrection. Is there really a correlation? Is is wrong as a Christian to do Easter egg hunts with our children? The church I currently go to does not have Easter egg hunts for the children but other Christian churches I’ve attended would have them. I began to wonder as a parent and as a Christian, was it wrong for me to be coloring eggs with my boys and doing egg hunts with them? I did a little research to try and find some insight on this subject …

The Egg Hunt

First, let’s look at Wikipedia’s definition of the egg hunt. It is simply described as a game that can be played indoors or outdoors where eggs are hidden for children to find. The eggs can be real eggs dyed or decorated, plastic eggs with treats inside of them or foil wrapped chocolate eggs. The egg can be looked at symbol of new life and represents the tomb of which Jesus breaks out of and comes to life … his resurrection. This makes total sense to me. After reading a few articles and seeing that most made this connection, it gives me peace in my heart to know that egg hunts are not a sin and participating in doing so with our kids are okay. I do think it is important that we speak to our children about the relation of the egg and what it symbolizes, so that for them, it’s not just about getting as many eggs and candy as they can get, but that there is a real true meaning behind the day of Easter. That being, Jesus rising from the dead. As a parent of a 6 year old and 4 year old, I have tried to do this but I definitely feel like I can do this even more. Growing up, Easter for me was more about our family gathering, the egg hunt and who would get the “Golden egg” with the five dollars inside. Honestly, I didn’t know the true meaning of Easter and did not know the true meaning until I converted to Christianity as an adult.

This video from the United Methodist Church is a great way for us to understand the symbolization of the egg representing new life. I love how they show the fun of the coloring of the eggs to represent this as a happy time as Christ has risen! We celebrate by decorating the eggs in all sorts of colors and in unique ways but all with the understanding that the egg represents new life!

The Easter Bunny

So how did the idea of a bunny make it’s way into this holiday that celebrates the rising of Christ? When thinking about it, bunnies do NOT lay eggs. So why not a chicken? I never really even noticed that as a child because it was so engraved in my brain that Easter was about bunnies and chocolates and treats. I’m not upset with my parents for not teaching me the true meaning of Easter, I’ve just decided that with my children, I want to make sure that I do. In my readings and research, the bunny pretty much came out because the hare back in the ancient world of Mesopotamia and Syria represented death and rebirth. It then shifted to “rabbits” really because hares and rabbits shared similar characteristics. The article in which I found that describes this, can be found on exploregod.com. It is also interesting and pointed out from the same article that back in ancient times, rabbits were looked at as symbols for lust and sexual excess. Which is why you see things today like the “Playboy Bunny”, or saying like “breed like rabbits”. This is because they frequently were mating and breeding. So why did it get connected to the Christian holiday? In pre-Christian Europe, the rabbit appeared as a symbol of fertility. So, connecting life to fertility is most likely how the rabbit came into play. Now, nearly two hundred or more years later … the bunny is so popularly used in the secular world to celebrate the holiday. In the end, as a Christian, I have learned that there is no direct link between the Easter Bunny and Jesus. Let me assure you, I will not be condemning anyone that celebrates the Easter Bunny. It is just something that our culture for so many years has accepted and practiced. It’s normal for so many people. But, because of this learning of mine, I will be limiting the highlighting of the Easter Bunny in anyway, shape or form, knowing that we can continue decorating eggs and celebrating that way. I have never made the Easter Bunny a big deal in our home, never taken my children to take pictures with the Easter Bunny and so I don’t think limiting the talk about it will be a big deal. But what I want to be a big deal in their lives is Jesus! You can surely bet that we will be having plenty of conversation about why Jesus died on the cross and story of Easter and his Resurrection! I understand now that I have done my research, that as a Christian to celebrate Easter, to do Egg hunts, is a personal matter. As long as your focus of Easter is about Jesus and his Resurrection, then I think you are on the right track! I hope you found this article interesting. To hear about our Christmas, click here.

To contact me with any questions or comments, click my contact page.

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Christmas on a Sunday

This year Christmas fell on a Sunday. It was the first year for my family (myself, my husband and my two little boys) to actually wake up in our home on Christmas morning. You see, every year we are usually waking up in my parent’s home, or my in-laws home or my sister’s home. This year we enjoyed for the first time ever since my husband and I were married to wake up in our home.  It was great to start new traditions and see the magic of Christmas come to life right before my eyes with my little boys who are six and four. Realizing Christmas fell on a Sunday … I had said to my husband, we should attend a Christmas service. Knowing that we usually go over to the in laws house first thing in the morning to open gifts, posed a little dilemma. Do we go to the Christmas service or not? As a Christian, I felt it was important to honor Jesus on his birthday and spend the morning worshiping him and praising him! I mean, it’s his birthday!!! The birth of our Lord, who we wouldn’t even have this holiday at all if we did not have him as our Savior. So we decided we would enjoy our morning doing gifts and then attend the second service at church. The magical morning started by waiting for the kids to wake up. My 4 year old was the first one awake and we heard the pitter patter of his feet. He saw that their elf “Elsa” had helped Santa set up gifts for them and that he filled their stockings! Little brother ran to wake up big brother so they could start opening gifts … also he wanted to show his big brother that Santa had eaten most of the cookies we left him and drank all the milk! (Next year we will leave carrots for the reindeer) Big brother gets up and the excitement begins!! The boys were good (for the most part) and got what they wanted from Santa!! Big brother got his big rainbow ball so he could play wall ball and little brother, a Mickey Mouse Lego set. Their stockings were also filled with lots of goodies that they love. Elf Elsa did a good job letting Santa know what the boys are into!!! After our magical morning, we got dressed in our “Christmas Best”, and went to church to celebrate the reason for the season, the birth of Jesus Christ. We have everything to be thankful for, our health, our jobs, each other and just peace and joy in our hearts and our lives. This is all due to Jesus and we wanted to say “thank you” and Happy Birthday. After service, we did another first for our family … we had brunch at Black Bear Diner! I have never gone out to eat on Christmas day! It wasn’t as busy as I thought … and after a short wait, we enjoyed a lovely brunch with just the four of us. Then after brunch … another Christmas first … wait for it. I took a nap!!!!! Yes, I said nap! This Christmas was unlike others in so many ways and it really was because we spread out our celebrations to Christmas Eve and even New Years with my side of the family. Our families live in different cities and my family is a 12 hour drive away. Christmas Eve we celebrated with my in laws and did presents with that side of the family and it was magical as well!! So Christmas day … we had time to breath and relax before heading to the big family party back at my in laws house with the extended family. So all in all, Christmas was filled with happiness, joy, laughter and lots of lots of love!! There was definitely a little stress for me with the typical hustle and bustle of the holidays but I really soaked in every moment from picking out our tree, to making ornaments with my two little boys to baking our holiday cookies three days after Christmas. It was a Christmas I will never forget. Today, is the 3rd of January and we just got back into town from celebrating New Years Eve with my side of the family. So … a third Christmas for the boys basically. They got presents on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and also over New Years Eve weekend. We still have more family to visit and so they will get a fourth Christmas very soon!!!! I hope you all enjoyed your holiday and that you experienced some Christmas magic yourself. Now that it’s a new year I wish you many blessings to come and I already can’t wait for Christmas 2017!!

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