Fun ideas for beach photography
Baking brown butter treats at home
Taking pictures of two girls
Easter Family Picture
Monday_Funday_Link_Party

Long December

Dear December,

I love you for the joy of the Christmas season, but I’m ready to start over in the new year. It’s been a dramatic month, and I’m anxious for less drama in my life. But not before this FUN Christmas week ahead of me!

Drama aside, I’m feeling grateful for this family of mine, and how fulfilled I feel with them.

Until January,

Kristen

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Minute to Win It Kissing ornament game

Bright things the past week:

  • I finished Christmas shopping yesterday–hooray!  It’s tough to manage 4 children’s gifts, to make sure they are “even” in spending and size. I am SOOOOO excited about a few of the gifts I’m giving my husband and kids, and I hope they recognize that it won’t be completely even. I’ve already had a chat with one of them. My oldest son said he didn’t want anything, but I got something cool, thanks to a Facebook friend suggesting and “experience” gift;) I saw on the Today show the rich and famous talking bout how they just give 3 gifts on Christmas (like the wise men) and I thought….”that’s a nice idea…but you probably gift to your kids all year long.” I don’t gift at all. It’s hard for me, but I don’t buy the fad toys for my kids throughout the year. Not even on their birthdays–I spend money on activities or a party for them. So THIS is the time of year that I personally indulge. I don’t feel it takes away the spirit of the season, it brings me joy. I actually feel bad that my girls are just getting a rainbow loom for Christmas, and my daughters teacher just announced that they are banned from school now! She’s made them from friends bands, and has a few, but hasn’t had the supplies herself yet. But I also love that she never asked either. She’s content.
  • I am SO very excited to get together for 4 nights with my brothers and their families at the end of the week!!!! They know me. They know my ups, my downs, my insides, my heart. They’ve seen me go loco, and love me just the same. I have always been very close to my brothers, and their wives have come into my life as the sisters I’ve always wanted. One of them called me this week and sought advice, which meant so much to me because in a time of sadness, when someone needs me….it really lifts me up. It will be sad and strange to not have my parents there, but we are grateful for their missionary service in Ghana.
  • I looked all over town and the internet for pajama’s for my kids to match on Christmas. My kids think it is so fun to match, so I gotta do it while I can. I tried to find something to coordinate with no success. I found matching online, but I just couldn’t pay $30 a set for that. SOOOO, I got this crazy idea that I’d sew PJ’s for the first time! I have a sewing machine. I have the ability to sew a straight line. I’ve NEVER worked with a pattern by myself, but I successfully figured out the pattern, cut them all out last night, and sewed in a waist band and am 90% done! While carrying the large stack of fabric in the extremely long line at Joann’s yesterday, I chatted with an older lady whom I found out is a member of my faith in another congregation. I told her my mom always sews stuff for me, but she lives in Africa. It’s a good reason to attempt it myself.
  • I’m loving Amazon Prime right now, see picture below.
  • My boys have read the entire Hunger Games series and have begged to see the movies. My husband and I haven’t wanted them watching them previously, but we decided we’d let them watch the first one at home. It’s less dramatic at home during the day. Tomorrow the girls are playing at a friends while I watch with them. Haven’t told them yet (I love surprises), can’t wait!
  • While I’m typing this on a Sunday afternoon, I declared it “Journal Time” to the kids. About once a month, I have them pull out their journals and share thoughts and experiences. They moan and groan, but I just heard them reading to each other previous experts and laughing–now that’s joy!
  • My girls and I wore Christmas colors to church, and took some fun pictures after to commemorate.
  • Kids are out of school, and I’m going to sleep in! I’ll post on Tuesday, then taking a week break from the blog.
  • I’m grateful for my husband this week. He has stood by me during some low moments, is such a great listener, and validates my thoughts and feelings that I’m not the horrible person that I sometimes feel. I’m not perfect. I don’t claim to be, but I’m grateful that he knows and understands my heart and intentions. He has had some stress lately, too, and at times we both worry he’s going to have a heart attack. Seriously, I want him to go get his blood pressure checked. He’s fit as a fiddle, but stuff happens to the healthy, too. I’m trying to do my best to help relieve the stress around him.
  • Today I taught my girls at church a lesson about how to have a Christ Centered home by being peacemakers, and have daily prayer and scripture study to be our best self. I morphed it into a Christmas lesson by bringing in the message of the gifts we can offer to the Savior this season, and throughout our lives. He has given us so much, what can we give back to Him? My overall take away was, I give the gift of how I live my life back to Him. The gift of love, service, obedience, and in return, I am blessed with the Atonement (which He’s already given) to bring me joy. I tearfully shared with my girls a time that I vividly remember when I’ve been blessed by the warmth of the Atonement, from feeling sadness. I shared about that experience here, but I felt the pain lifted off of me through turning my grief over to Him in prayer.

If anyone is out there reading—through the hustle and bustle of the craze that is two days before Christmas–have a fabulous week with your family. Squeeze them tight. Forgive each other. Look for opportunities of service. We can’t do it all, but we can do a little. I hope you feel the joy of the Saviors love, because He does love us all–whether we recognize it all the time or not.

journal

Kristen Duke

Kristen Duke

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Kristen Duke
Kristen Duke
Kristen Duke
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Comments

  1. 1
    Raelene Hill says:

    Loved the update! AS ALWAYS it keeps me connected! I will miss all of you at Christmas. I may be in Ghana but my heart will be in Texas:) Love Amazon Prime, too – what could be better than being able to shop in your own home (even across the world) and having free delivery before Christmas!! YEAH! Yes, I am proud of your sewing adventure. I love how you jump into things – even when they may be hard – to fill a need, whether personal, family (like the whole clan NEEDS matching PJ’s:) or for friends!
    Have a wonderful Christmas and time with the whole Hill clan – we are so glad you will be together! Love You!

  2. 3

    I’ve loved reading your blog this year. I feel like I’m really getting to know a genuine, sweet person. Thank you for sharing yourself and your family with all of us. Wishing you very Merry Christmas and all the best in 2014.

    • 4
      Kristen Duke says:

      Thank you so much. That really means a lot to me to hear that…it’s been a doozie of a week for me! Merry Christmas!!

  3. 5

    not at all part of your post… but fun t-shirt. Your house probably is smarter than mine :D
    Aline recently posted..Summer in December {WIWW}My Profile

  4. 7

    Have a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones and family Kristen! Keep up the joy, the good work, and sharing what is on your mind. Life is about learning and growing. Have a wonderful day. -karen
    Karen recently posted..Trashy Tuesday, The Best Things in Life are Free!My Profile

  5. 8

    Merry Christmas!!

  6. 9

    Tackling a sewing project while trying to get all the wrapping and other pre-holiday preparations done? Wow – incredible. Way to go on that!