Easy DIY Thanksgiving decoration!

Surprise! I am alive!

The new house, new town and new job are certainly taking a toll on my free time, or shall I say lack there of.

Now with a beautiful, huge (huge for us after living in an apartment for five years) house I realized why my mom was always stressing about cleaning… there’s never enough time in the day to clean all the dirt. The dust and dirt multiplies like rabbits in my house!

To distract from the constant dust and dirt creation, I’ve decided to try my hand at decorating the house. Emphasis on try.

After Halloween was over I realized I didn’t put a single Halloween or fall decoration up.

Between unpacking, cleaning, traveling and training for work, and more cleaning, I didn’t even pick up a single pumpkin.

That had to change for Thanksgiving, I mean what would the neighbors think? We aren’t super boring, I swear.

I scoured Pinterest for Thanksgiving decorations.. and all I found were construction paper turkeys, kids coloring pages, and strangely, a lot of mason jars filled with dried beans?

I hightly doubted my teenage and preteen stepsons would like to color cornucopias and trace their hands to put on the fridge… I was stuck between construction paper pilgrim hats and a bountiful flock of hand turkeys.

Until the Thanksgiving Tree.


This EASY and beautiful Thanksgiving DIY decoration is the perfect centerpiece for anybody this Thanksgiving!

Plus, it’s a great way to spend the afternoon with family!

We found the sticks while taking a walk, actually my oldest stepson ran down the road with a large tree branch as a joke and it ended up on my kitchen table.

My father-in-law sliced up some branches from his yard while we collected acorns.

Bing-bang-boom, project almost done.

The longest part was cutting and gluing chalkboard paper onto the slices.

Lastly, the best part, what we are thankful for. Everyone, including Mimi, got to write what they were thankful for.


From God to dogs, phones to sisters, the tree has not only fulfilled my need for decorations, but filled our home with so much love!


And my incredibly bad DIYing self made something that may actually be Pinterest worthy!


Don’t worry, I’ll probably do some hand turkeys too, can’t leave those bad boys out.

Cheers, gobble gobble.

Tools:

  • Mason Jar
  • Branches
  • Chalkboard Paper
  • Twine
  • Chalk
  • Something to fill the jar with to keep branches in place

Place branches in jar, write what you’re thankful for in chalk and hang chalkboard ornaments on the branches.

DONEZO

Pull your stroller backward on the beach

I was filled with hope, anticipation, excitement and stress as we packed up and made the hike for our first family vacation all together – including the kids’ Maw-Maw.

 We filled our SUV to the brim with three adults, two car seats and two preteens.

I couldn’t wait to finally get some sand between my toes after four long years landlocked and, even more, I couldn’t wait for Charlie to see the beach for the first time and fall in love with it.

I stressed for weeks about this trip – having everything we needed so we didn’t have to do any last-minute runs to the store, and really, I wanted to make sure everyone had a fantastic time all together since it’s something we rarely get to do.

Side note – my six-year-old step-daughter lives in Tennessee and we get to see her about four times a year, mostly around holidays. This summer we had her for three fantastic weeks, including this beach trip.

We also had a custody hearing for my step-sons a few weeks ago and got pretty much the opposite verdict of what we were all – including the boys – hoping for. And we were all, and still are, pretty bummed about it. So I was hoping this trip would turn around all of our moods and get us back to our fun-loving, happy selves.

And with all the pressure I put on our ‘Amspacker Beach Takeover’ obviously it would not go as I planned.

Charlie did not like the beach. She hated it.

She hated the sound. She hated the smell. She hated the sunblock, the sand and the fact she had to wear an enormous hat to block the sunshine from her beautiful, super iridescent baby skin.

I was that mom with the screaming baby at the beach who was throwing off her sun hat, getting sunblock in her eye and refusing to put her feet in the sand.

Stress level: high.

After she fell into her milk coma, I sat back in the beach chair, took a deep breath, closed my eyes and sank back in defeat into the chair.

“Waaaaaaaa.”

I sat straight up to check Charlie and try to get her back to sleep. But when I opened my eyes it wasn’t Charlie’s cries I was hearing. It was the little boy two umbrellas over who was crying because he couldn’t eat sand.

And as I listened more, in the other direction a mom was yelling at her son for knocking over her toddler’s sand castle. And the tent in front of us had two kids crying because they had to put on more sunblock.

I stood up and looked around and finally realized that it wasn’t just Charlie, and this was what going to the beach was: sad tears, suntans, salty hair, smiles and family together.

I already knew having children meant pretty much everything is unpredictable and as a parent you have to adapt to every situation, and I didn’t know why I thought going to the beach would be different.

 As the salty air hit my face, it was a slap in the face for me to wake up and enjoy this time with my family. I felt the crashing waves on my legs and the pull of the tide and as the water rushed back into the massive Atlantic, it took all my stress and anxiety with it.

I used the rest of our trip coming up with ways to make our trip to the beach and around the sandy towns easier.

Family Beach Trip Tricks and Tips with Toddler and Kids

1.     Bring a stroller to the beach. Use it to help carry all the towels, bags and shovels on the sand and use it as a make shift crib for naps. PULL THE STROLLER BACKWARDS ON THE BEACH, it makes all the difference, and works out your calves.

2.     Buy a baby sun hat with straps. Under my husband’s recommendation, we bought one with no strap and that hat spent more time in the sand and making Charlie mad because we kept putting it on her head and she wanted it off.

3.     Put sunblock on before you get to the beach. It’s less crowded at the beach house/hotel/car than at the beach, there will be no complaints about having sand in the lotion and it usually takes some time for the effects of the sunblock to actually kick in. Spray sunblock is amazing.

4.     Bring baby powder. It will help with wet, sandy hands and feet. It will take away the wetness and the dry sand will just brush right off.

5.     Have drinks handy. From swimming in the salt water to playing in the hot sun, your family needs to stay hydrated. Have a cooler packed with water, juice packs and a sippy cup ready to go.

6.     Use an umbrella, or any other sun-shielding device, like a tent. You will want somewhere to put your babes in the shade and keep cool. We like to rent ours at the beach to help save room in the car.

7.     Swim diapers – pack them but don’t put them on unless your babe is getting in the water. These diapers are great, but they are only made to catch #2 not soak in #1. So if they are in the stroller, car seat, on a towel, etc. and have a swim diaper on it will not stop the flow and everything will get all wet. No bueno.

8.     Create a baby pool – it’s an easy way to get your babe adjusted to the beach and enjoy some of the water. Either bring your own baby pool or create your own with a deep hole and a shower curtain.

9.     Ziploc baggies – are a God send. Perfect for everything you don’t want sandy or wet – cell phones, cameras, binkies, baby blankets, jewelry, etc.

10.  Alcohol. This is your vacation too, mom and dad. Kick back with a cold one and relax!

 Cheers beach bums.

Frustratingly Frustrated

Emotions have been ringing high in my house the last few weeks. There is an underlaying tenseness in the air. And I am too stubborn to let it fade away.

Let me start over by saying MY emotions have been ringing high for the last few weeks. There’s no doubt. I’ve been cranky, grumpy, tired (i.e. welcome to motherhood), but I, especially, have been on an emotional roller coaster that has apparently gone 90 m.p.h. downhill, crashing into my house.

My grandmother passed away a few weeks ago, my daughter is cutting molars, she and I are weaning from breastfeeding, and we are just days away from a custody hearing for my stepsons. Easy peasy.

My husband and I seem to be nipping at each other’s heels for the sake of, well nothing. Oh that lovely nine-month-plateau, that’s real, right?

And as I have learned through this nipping, I can really only 100% touch base with myself. So, here I am. I’ve realized I’m too stubborn. Too stubborn to give in. Too stubborn to let my guard down. And I’ve gotten to the point where I am too stubborn to fight.

I get extremely frustrated with dealing with all of the emotions in my house. I’ve baked three loaves of banana bread in five days, I ate them all. By myself.

I’ve tried exercising. I’ve tried cleaning. I’ve tried blaming the dog, but she just gives me her big, saggy, sad eyes and my heart melts all over and I’m back to being frustrated.

Until I realized, I haven’t written a post in a while because my emotions were numb. I have plenty of post ideas, rough drafts, brainstorms, ven diagrams, you name it, but I didn’t have the emotion – or understanding of my emotions – behind the words.

I finally found my muse – frustration.

Typing, the finger strokes on a key board, the sound of keys making thoughts come alive – it keeps me steady, its consistent. 

I hope you didn’t come to this post in hopes of finding ways to deal with your emotions or frustrations, because frankly I have no clue. 

Like I said earlier, I can only really check in with my emotions so here it goes.

I am frustrated because I feel like my voice is not heard. I am frustrated because I think I have plateaued. I am frustrated I can’t help with my daughter’s pain. I am frustrated because I can’t help with my husband’s pain. I am frustrated with how people treat other people and think it’s ok. I am frustrated that my dog has suddenly stopped listening. I am frustrated that good people are taken from this earth. I am frustrated with politics. I am frustrated because so many people put their own feelings and bitterness before their children’s well-being.

And though I may feel lonely at times, I know I am not alone with these feelings.

But it’s how we handle these feelings that make us who we are. And set us a part from the rest of the herd.

Don’t dwell on things you cannot change, on rude attitudes, or poisonous people. I am a firm believer in karma, and whenever she comes around it won’t be pretty.

What’s the point in always being angry? Nit-picking? Fighting? Bitterness? Holding grudges?

That doesn’t sound like a fun, light, healthy life to me. Sounds heavy and quite frankly, agonizing.

Now I’m not saying lets sweep everything under the rug until it all piles up and explodes all over the crazy emotional rollercoaster that crashed in my living room. (Psh, I’ve never done that before).

So let’s all take a breath – in through the nose, out through the mouth – sit back and really check in with what fights are worth fighting. And are you arguing for the sake of conversation?

Still frustrated? Talk to the main man upstairs. He always points me in the right direction.

After all these late night ramblings, I’ll cheers you with my three cups of coffee in the morning.

Cheers

So here it goes.. my journey into the blogging world. As a first post, it seems obligatory to do some introductions, so here it goes:

I’m Jillian and 2015 was a big year for me, it brought the birth of my amazing daughter and it was the year I married my best friend.

Lesson 1: Always undress baby when feeding.. even if it looks easy and not messy. Babies are always messy.
Lesson 1: Always undress baby when feeding.. even if it looks easy and not messy. Babies are always messy.

Our life is far from the typical American dream family with a two-story home with red shutters, yard, golden retriever (no offense golden lovers!) and a white picket fence. In fact, we live in an apartment above my husband’s restaurant with great dane that looks like a cow and our yard is the side lot off the parking lot. I am also a step-mother to three wonderful children, two boys and a girl.

This big, floppy, drool machine is our dear Molly.
This big, floppy, drool machine is our dear Molly.

Though being atypical is amazing, it doesn’t come without challenges. Hence this blog. It’s a place for my crazy stories of being a new wife, a new mother (my daughter has been crying and crawling up my leg this entire post), a diary of my journey navigating and growing a blended family, easy recipes, attempts at DIY projects and everything in-between.

I hope you join me on this trip around the sun. So sit back, grab a drink sippy cup or champagne flute – and enjoy the ride! Cheers!