name='p:domain_verify'/> Always A New Day : November 2018


Simple Tips to De-Stress Your Holiday Season

This post is sponsored by Isotoner but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Halloween is done, Thanksgiving is coming, and then it's all things Christmas! For me, Christmas is hands-down my favorite holiday - from the social gatherings, to the lights, and to the true reason for the season.

But, for anxious mamas like me, the holidays can be overwhelming. In the last two years, I've tried to dial it down a bit. For my easily-stressed self and for my kids to see what this season is really all about. So, if you're getting nervous about all the festive headed your way, here are some simple tips to de-stress your holiday season.

Let the memories happen spontaneously.

There can be pressure to make Christmas BIG and BRIGHT every single day of the holiday season. Perfectly decorated trees. Perfectly iced sugar cookies. Reality? The kids put the ornaments on the tree in ways to make your OCD spin, and you fight more than you bake.

Instead, put on your pajamas and these Isotoner Surround Comfort™ slippers and drive to see the neighborhood lights. You will love the foam technology - no other slippers offer this comfort. They are perfect for cold nights and Christmas lights. If you like the pair I have, they are called the Marisol Closed Back slipper!

Go easy on the gift giving.

See my post last year on how my sister and I make gift-giving fun. Make lists. Keep a budget. For the kids, adopt the practice of giving them something they want, something they need, something they wear, and something they read. Easy, peasy.

Give the gift of comfort this holiday season with 360 degrees of cozy memory foam. Isotoner Surround Comfort™ slippers are the perfect gift for everyone on your list!

Keep the gatherings simple.

I love all the parties and festive gatherings, but driving all over town throughout the holidays can be too much. If you have to say no, say NO. If you are throwing a party, make it BYOB or potluck. You don't need place cards or to break out your fine china. Do you. And if it means keeping it simple, go for it.

Then, when the party is done, prop up those tired feet and reward yourself with comfort! Your slippers are waiting.

Take time for YOU.

The Christmas season IS jolly. Don't overwhelm yourself trying to make your holidays Pinterest-perfect. Before you know it, it's all over and you may not feel like you had time to sit back and enjoy the JOY. Binge some Hallmark movies (my favorite). Cuddle up with hot cocoa (or wine) to watch your favorite Christmas special.

And while you're doing all that chillin' - grab yourself those cozy slippers again. These Isotoner Surround Comfort™ slippers are perfect for snuggles on a movie night - it's like having
a memory foam pillow in shoe!


So, off we go, friends. Even though Thanksgiving is coming first, we still need to prepare ourselves. Take it easy, make it fun, and slip into your Isotoner Surround Comfort™. The holidays are meant for memories - for joy, for comfort, and for peace. Enjoy the moments with your kids, family, and friends.

And sit back - in these slippers, of course - and reflect on what could be the most memorable holiday season ever.

To grab your own pair of cozy slippers or gift someone on your list, 
click HERE!


4 Steps To Finding the Right Family Photographer

I am so excited to share more of our family pictures! As always, my friend, Jennifer, snaps the best pictures of my crazy crew. Have you taken your fall photos yet? There's still time! If you're in Houston, you need to use Jennifer Spencer Photography. And if not? Here are steps to finding the right photographer for you and YOUR crew.

Ask your friends for recommendations

Sure, Google reviews are great, but trust your friends' expertise and experience. I've known Jennifer for a while, and she has taken such fun shots of my kids and my family (like these in 2016 and 2017). If you also look through her portfolio, I bet those clients will say the same.

Chat with them before your session

To make sure the photographer is the right fit, give them a call to discuss ideas. Do you both have the same vision? Are there certain poses, outfits, or locations you had in mind? Taking family pictures is a collaboration so it's nice to be on the same page before picture day.

Choose someone who is laid-back

As you know, I'm not the best at laid-back. I can't imagine a photographer who is the same as me - crazed too quickly. Jennifer is calm which is FABULOUS when your kids are driving you nuts during photos. She is fantastic with kids of all sizes and sass. You want someone who can move the session efficiently and without stressing the mama who just wants a good shot of her peeps.

Find someone is creative

From pose ideas to location options, the best photographer is one who has seen what works and what doesn't. Someone who has worked with families of all sizes and can design a picture that captures your family perfectly. Silly shots or other ideas definitely make fun pictures so ask about their creative ideas. Locations are key, too. A creative photographer knows the best spots - from the best light to the ideal scenery. Let them guide you - I bet you'll find places you never thought could make such a wonderful backdrop.

I just ADORE our pictures this year. She captured the kids' personalities and made the session so fun. Now, local friends - we have a deal for you! Mention ALWAYS A NEW DAY to Jennifer when inquiring about photos, and she will give you $25 off a session!

I can't wait to see all of your pictures! And don't forget to follow Jennifer Spencer Photography!


Why We Believe the Research - Decorating Early for Christmas Does Make You Happier

Thanksgiving is next week; Christmas will soon follow. I started my shopping and planning the Christmas decor. I'm hearing carols and the channel is stuck on Hallmark, so all of this means it's time for lights, parties, and the like. But, I know many wish that Christmas didn't bypass Thanksgiving or that shopping would start on Black Friday. And while I love turkey and family feasts, there's just something about Christmas for me. 

And to fuel the debate, research has come out saying that those who decorate earlier are just happier folks. I say, what is wrong with that? In a crazy world of worry and sorrow, I see nothing wrong with connecting - at anytime - to something that gives you joy. Something that brings you back to childhood memories. Something that creates even bigger memories for your kids. That's why my family believes the research - decorating early makes you happy. 

My Christmas memories from when I was younger are so vivid still. One of my favorite things was being in charge of turning on the outside lights - from plugging in the porch lights or turning on each lighted candle in our windows. I took my job seriously. 

I remember watching Christmas specials (The Brady Bunch one was my favorite), shopping at the Galleria, and the cardboard fireplace my Grandmother set up each year. The cousins would do a gift swap after we sang the 12 Days of Christmas to our large family. I could barely sleep on Christmas Eve knowing what was to come.

Now that I have children, Christmas excites me even more. Now that I have lost loved ones, Christmas brings me JOY when so many days are filled with sadness that those memories are no more.

So, when I decorate before Thanksgiving, think of me. Think of the excitement my kids have knowing the holidays are coming. Think of them taking the light boss job seriously. Think of my mom who decided to decorate, too, because in glimpses of sadness, this season brings peace. 

We do long for Christmases past and miss those no longer with us. I wish we could all gather in my Maw Maw's living room and watch my uncle dress as Santa. I wish my brother was here to give my mom a cat again this year (she doesn't, trust me). I wish my dad was here to bundle up and go for a ride on his new mountain bike. 

And, if we decide that season starts in November, let us. If we decide to put up a tree because the lights make the cold nights brighter, let us. If we decide that Christmas carols and holiday movies are starting before Thanksgiving, let us. 

You do not need to understand why others do things differently. You don't know their reasons why because sometimes we don't either. What we do know is when we find small spots of joy, we hold on so tight hoping they last. We want the Christmas season to be long because the joy can overshadow the moments of grief and anxiety. 

Of course, we will grieve. We will stress. We will deal with festive, holiday anxiety. But, when we are together, and the kids are giggling, we get a reprieve from loss and worry. We remember the reason for the season when we see the little ones filled with joy. 

Happy Holidays, friends. Do what makes you happy. Find joy today, on Thanksgiving, and during the entire holiday season. 
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