Happy Holidays to each of you on this first day of December! Today, I am headed back to DFW after a fantastic week celebrating Thanksgiving with my sister and her family in Ashland, Oregon. If you have never had the pleasure of visiting Ashland, it should definitely be on your list of US cities to visit. Precious town full of culture and character!

Favorite store: Prize.

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Prize had the COOLEST wrapping paper!

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Hand blown vases in every color imaginable

Favorite outing: Lithia Park.

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James and I standing by one of the giant Sequoia trees at Lithia Park.

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One of the thousand selfies Courtney and I took over the week–we’re not sure why she made her fingers into a crab pincher.

Favorite restaurant: Pasta Piatti.

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My brother-in-law–Matt, Courtney and me at Pasta Piatti.

Sad to leave Coco, but excited to see Brian-he didn’t come with us because of a golf trip he had already scheduled for the day after Thanksgiving.

Well, it’s time. Christmas is officially upon us–although many of us have been listening to Christmas music for a month already. Our Christmas holidays are pretty traditional. We are blessed to live in the same town as both of our families, so we really don’t have any traveling to do. The boys are old enough to understand the concept of Santa Clause, which means they are old enough to understand the concept of the birth of Jesus. It is always a bit of a balancing act this time of year: wanting them to be excited about Christmas traditions like Elf on the Shelf and making a Christmas list, but also want them to understand the true reason we are celebrating.

In my five short years of motherhood, so far I have found the best way to teach James and Caleb about the birth of Christ is to get hands on. Literally. They have their own Nativity, and I think the repetitiveness of going over the characters while they play will keep the story fresh in their minds. Its kind of a dream of mine to be at Target, and James say to me, Mom, we don’t need to even look at the toys. Christmas is about Jesus.

A new tradition we have begun is celebrating Chanukah with my sister-in-law and nieces…I say new, but we have been doing it for like nine years now. We typically see them at least one of the eight days during the Festival of Lights, and watching my nieces’ sweet faces behind the flickering menorah as they recite an ancient prayer in Hebrew is a precious experience for me each year. I usually give them a new outfit–wrapped in blue and white, of course–and somehow two Chanukah presents usually end up around the menorah with James and Caleb’s name on them. Thank you, Aunt Jen!! The boys are always very curious about the celebration. Aunt Jen has taught them along with Layne and Larkin how God provided enough oil for the candles to burn for eight days. Such a wonderful reminder how faithful our Lord is.

Layne and Larkin

Layne and Larkin by the menorah. Chanukah 2013

Layne and Larkin

I think this was taken right before the first one…Larkin was mad it wasn’t her turn to light the candles.

On that note I’ll tell you my verse for the month is Philippians 4:19:

And my God will supply every need of yours

according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Lets not forget God provides!

I hope everyone will check out my SIX new Pinterest boards: Christmas Food, Woodland Christmas Tablescape (inspired by my trip to Ashland!), Christmas DecorationsChristmas Gift Guide, Bubble Wrap and Holiday Party Dresses! I always enjoy getting a little Pinspired for the Holidays…hope this helps you! I’ll keep pinning throughout the season, so make sure you follow my boards to stay updated.

Excited to share with you my Holiday Gift Guide full of all my favorite gifts ideas for the season. I’ll also share with you my Christmas tablescape, a few cold weather recipes and why I LOVE plaid this season. My sister, Courtney, is an insanely talented writer and has agreed to be a guest blogger for us this month. So stay tuned to see how we are Living Beautifully in December!

-ciao for now-

lauren

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