Tag Archives: Christmas

New Year’s Resolutions and and update on “Brian”

UPDATE: As many of you saw on social media, Caitlin LOVED the enormous Yeti bear! She has named him Brian much to my chagrin. I’ve never minded the name Brian, per say, but when my daughter tells me she’s going to “sleep on Brian tonight” it kinda wigs me out. She’ll understand in a few years so for now I keep my opinions to myself and let her sweet innocence prevail. She is so proud of this bear and anyone that has come into our home has had to go up to her room to see it for themselves. She and her friends spend hours in her room playing with him. “How do you play with a stuffed animal that big?” Well, from what I hear downstairs it sounds a lot like running and jumping on him. We’ll see how long he lasts. He takes up about half of her room so I’m wondering when the novelty of Brian will wear off. Hopefully not until college seeing that it took Caitlin, Kyle, and 4 of her friends to get him upstairs. I wished I had snapped a pic of THAT! If Ross Gellar were there, he would’ve been yelling, “PIVOT! PIVOT! PIVOT!” All in all, I think this will go down as her favorite Christmas ever. (The video of Caitlin seeing “Brian” on Christmas morning is at the bottom of this post in case you missed it on social media.)

Ok, moving on to the matter at hand.

New Year’s Resolutions.

Are you the kind of person that makes them every year? Or do you skip it so as not to feel bad about not keeping them by the end of January?

I used to never make resolutions but I’d say in the last 5 years or so, I’ve consistently made resolutions every year. Maybe “resolutions” isn’t the right word; I make goals at the beginning of the year. I think this is partly due to my husband. When Kyle got into sales many moons ago, he would make goals at the beginning of the year for work. Then it kind of turned into making personal goals also. Then he sold me on the idea that it’s important to write down your goals because it offers more accountability and you’re more likely to meet them, yada, yada, yada. He’s a brilliant sales guy.

My goals for 2016 were to publish 2 books and floss every day. I met one of those and the other, well, it lasted until March. And I just heard a couple of months ago on the news that some dentists came out and said flossing doesn’t really matter. I highly doubt the validity of that but it makes me feel better about not flossing.

I remember one year writing like 2 pages worth of resolutions/goals in my journal. Bless. I had personal goals, writing goals, parenting goals, marriage goals, financial goals, and the list went on and on. And many of them started with “Every day I will ________________.” This is failure waiting to happen. The only thing I can actually guarantee I will do every day is eat, sleep, and breathe.

This year I’m keeping it simple. My goals this year are short and sweet. They are fairly trivial in nature and one of them even has a time cap. Drum roll please…

  1. Use only my iPhone calendar and get rid of the paper calendar.
  2. Write more consistently (2 blog posts a week)
  3. No social media for the month of January.

That’s it. And I will tell you the first one will be the hardest for me. I adore a paper calendar! I like to see my whole month laid out because the more I see it; the more likely I am to remember it. Alas, I’m making more appointments on the go and it would be easier if all my junk were in one place. So for any of you planning anything with me that requires me to show up, I would be so appreciative of some grace if I forget. Changing systems is HARD. It’s like re-training my brain and this old brain isn’t good with new tricks.

As for #2, writing more consistently helps my writing to become better and generates more ideas, so setting a goal to do it more seems like a no-brainer.

And the “no social media in January” is for my mental health. I need a few less voices in my head so I can hear my own. And since I won’t be on social media, I won’t be posting as much about when I have something new on the blog. If you want to get my blog posts sent straight to your email so you don’t miss any, just sign up here! A good way to contact me in January (and all the time) would be via email: courtneypallen216@gmail.com. Would love to hear from you guys!

2017 is gonna be a stellar year. I can feel it in my bones!

As promised, here’s the video!

-Courtney

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If a waterbed wasn’t ridiculous enough, Caitlin wants a…

After 3 years, I finally caved. She’s been asking for 3 blessed years and because she doesn’t have much else on her list, she’s going to get that thing she’s been wanting. It is against my better judgment to let Santa bring this thing into our home but what am I to do? I’m already nixing the waterbed off Blake’s list, shouldn’t at least one of my kids get what they want? Paxton’s easy, his list can be bought in the electronic department of Target in a day. But my girl, sigh, she’s pining for this one thing and this is the year she’s gonna get it. She’s gonna be STOKED!

What’s the “thing”, you ask?

Oh. That.

Well, see, it’s the enormous stuffed bear from Costco. It’s the size of a Yeti (the monster not the cup) and I’m not even kidding. I have held it off for 3 years but she won’t stop asking for this silly bear. What can I say? The heart wants what it wants.

So I go yesterday to Costco to purchase said Yeti bear and OH. MY. WORD. It’s a monstrosity. It is bigger than ME and pound for pound we’ve got to be close to the same weight. I sort of wish I could see the store video footage of my trying to get this bear into my cart. It was basically a comedy sketch and by the end I’m in a full-blown sweat. I imagine it is like trying to get a 7 ft unconscious person into a car. And never mind the passersby that gawked at me like I was some sort of sideshow entertainment.

I finally manage to get the stupid thing into my cart but I have to hold the side of the cart to drive because it’s hanging out of both ends.

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Then come the people with all their commentary…

“Is that for you? Heh heh.”

“You should take the stuffing out and it could be a costume!”

“That’s bigger than you!!”

It was really precious, all those non funny comments.

Ya’ll would have been so proud of me. I didn’t say one ugly thing out loud to any of those people. I kept all my nasty, cutting comments to myself. I wore my invisible “SUCKER” sign on my forehead and walked to the checkout like a schmuck. I tried to avoid eye contact and looked at the ground but it was obvious people were staring as if to say, “What kind of idiot would by that?” Yep. That’s me. Idiot, Party of 1. I wish Kyle had been with me. He would have laughed along and had something funny to say to all their little jabs, but no, I wore my SUCKER sticker all by myself that day. I mean, people were literally pointing their fingers and laughing at me. Are we even allowed to point and laugh at people anymore? I feel like that should be a new rule. “No pointing and laughing at people unless they are a comedian or a clown.” I’m starting a petition.

Anyway, I check out and get to my car and just stand there, looking at my trunk. Like a statue.

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I have no idea how I’m going to get this beast of a bear into my car. Luckily, I didn’t wait long because a sweet couple offered to help me. They told me they had bought that same bear 3 years ago for their 10 year old granddaughter. Hallelujah and praise hands for compassion! We stuffed that bear into my car and I headed home, my faith in humanity restored. Look at this picture. I can’t even handle it.

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Big Foot Bear is residing in my garage at present, covered with a sheet and massive amounts of junk. See, there ARE perks to being unorganized and having piles of crap in your garage– no one notices when you add to the pile. Hopefully she won’t notice. Fingers crossed.

-Courtney

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Christmas, I love you but I quit.

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I want to quit Christmas. Does anyone else feel me on this? I’m so done and over Christmas shenanigans and I haven’t even started the baking yet. Maybe I should’ve baked first so the sugar could take me to my happy place then I would not be over all this Christmas.

Believe me when I tell you, I’m no Scrooge about Christmas. I adore Christmas. I love the lights, the music, the decorations, the baking, the gift-giving, ALL OF IT. I love it. Maybe my mood has to do with trying to sell a book at the craziest time of the year (The month of May runs a close second), or that we’re doing some home renovations, or that my kids still want to eat everyday and have clean clothes and do activities and need help with doing life because they are only children for goodness’ sake! I’m over 2015 and am ready to tap out. Anybody with me?

All the aforementioned things may be factors in my current attitude, but I think the truth is I’ve become a victim of the world’s view of Christmas. I’ve bought into the idea that even though you have a lot going on in your regular life, you need to make sure you buy all the presents, make all the goodies, attend all the parties, decorate all the rooms, do all the Advent calendars, watch all the Christmas movies, and make all the memories with your kids…ALL WHILE REMEMBERING THAT “JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON.”

For goodness sake.

I cannot.

Gosh we’re good at adding unnecessary things to our plate, aren’t we? I love baking at Christmas. And I love watching Christmas movies. I love having a Christmas tree in my living room because it just makes it feel magical. But somehow it has turned into, “I’ve got to go to 20 different places and 30 different websites to get everyone’s presents! I have to get on the baking because the kids are almost out for Christmas break and I ALWAYS bake something for the teachers! The kids will be crushed if I miss their “holiday” parties; I have to go! I have to get all my Christmas decorations up so I can tell people I have all my Christmas decorations up! I’ve got to get the red nose and antlers on my car so people will know I’m pretending my car is a reindeer…oh wait… no, I don’t EVER need to do this. I need to find the perfect outfit for the Christmas parties I’m going to! I’ve got to get the kids to the mall to see Santa and get their picture made! Shoot, we forgot to read our Advent calendar, now we need to read 6 to catch up! Then I’ve got to remember to post everything I’ve done with my kids during the Christmas season so people can “ooh and aah” over what an amazing mom I am! Don’t forget!!”

YA’LL.

THIS IS LUDICROUS.

No wonder I’m tired. Did you read how many “I”s are in that last paragraph? 17 . Whew, I’m beat and I haven’t even done all those things.

I’ve made Christmas into something it’s not. I’ve made it about me and what I’m doing to make it perfect and magical. Bless my heart.

The most important, perfect, magical thing I should be doing this Christmas season is taking the time to worship the God who gave us His Son. That’s it. Why is that so hard for me to remember?

Christmas is our call to worship. That’s what the angels and shepherds were doing the night Jesus was born. That was the reason the wise men loaded up their stuff and made the trek to meet Jesus. To miss the opportunity to worship is to miss Christmas. And I think that’s why my soul is weary and I feel such unrest. I’ve been giving my worship (time, attention, efforts) to things that are life-sucking rather than life-giving. I need to find my way back to the manger. I need to sit in awe of the gift God gave to me, and the rest of the world, so long ago. My soul is never more rested than after time spent with God. So today I’m pumping the brakes on commercial Christmas. I’m going to go curl up in my favorite chair and pour over the words in Luke 2. I’m going back to the manger. Who’s with me?

-Courtney

Want a copy of my new Christmas book The Forgotten Ornament? Go on up to the Purchase tab at the top of the page and get you one!!

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The weirdest thing my kid wants for Christmas

Blake is always my most vocal child when it comes to what he wants for Christmas. He’s quick to make a list but I can’t shop too early because chances are he’s going to change his mind. There’s one thing on his list this year that has stayed the same. I keep waiting for him to decide he doesn’t want it anymore and cross it off the list. Unfortunately for me, this hasn’t happened yet. As a matter of fact, it’s the #1 thing he wants this year.

Any guesses as to what it is?

“OBJ jersey?” No. He’s already got one of those.

“Video games?” Nope.

“Football cards?” Please, baby Jesus, no. We’ve got enough.

The item topping his list this year, the thing he has not waffled on once, the thing that may or may not end his belief in Santa is…

Wait for it…

A WATERBED.

I’ll give you a minute. It’s ok, I about took a knee when he told me that’s what he wanted. What in the heavens? Is this some sort of joke? A waterbed?! Do the 1970s somehow come with it? Do I need to buy him a lava lamp and shag carpet as well?

I’m sure you’re wondering his reasoning behind wanting a waterbed as was I when he told me. After he told me why he wanted it, I COMPLETELY understood.

Me: “Blake, why on earth do you want a waterbed?”

Blake: “I just do.”

That’s it, folks. He just does. As compelling as his “I just do” argument is, I can’t. Right? I can’t get my 8 year old a waterbed. Like really?! I’ve tried explaining that there’s no way Santa could fit a waterbed down the chimney. He says he can just come through the front door. I half think that Blake knows the goods about Santa so he’s doing some sort of Christmas test on Kyle and me. He’s heard rumblings about old St. Nick at school and Paxton has almost blown Santa’s cover several times. I think in Blake’s mind it goes:

Waterbed= Yes, Blake, there is a Santa Claus!

No waterbed= My parents are lying liars and they deserve to have their pants catch on fire.

Well, it was fun while it lasted, Santa, but I can’t get my kid a waterbed. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Do they even MAKE waterbeds anymore?” Why yes, yes they do. I only know because I just looked it up on Google for the purposes of this post, NOT for the purposes of purchasing one. (And in case you are in the market for one, they now make them to look like regular mattresses. So you can have the feel of the ‘70s without the look of the ‘70s. However, if you want that bed-encased-in-wood look (i.e. 1976), they still offer those.)

A waterbed for Blake would be like most other Christmas gifts he receives: it’ll be awesome for a hot minute then he won’t care about it anymore. Or worse, he’ll pop a hole in the thing and we’ll really be up a creek. Literally.

I know Blake, and I know he’ll be disappointed when he comes downstairs to find no waterbed but seriously, I just can’t. He’ll get over it, right? If he grows up and wants to buy his own waterbed, more power to him. Then maybe his wife can be the bad guy and tell him there’s no way she’s sleeping on a waterbed. Good girl.

Anyone have any suggestions on a good substitute for a waterbed? Is there another substitute other than, well…a regular bed? Maybe I’ll just give him a lava lamp and call it a day. He’ll think a lava lamp is totally groovy.

-Courtney

**Since writing this post, he has changed his #1 spot to a new bike! Glory be! A bike I can do! And look a little further down on the list…

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A lava lamp. Large. I didn’t even know there were different sizes.

What in the world.

It’s like he was born in the wrong decade.

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Ollie’s HERE!!!!!!!!!

HE’S HERE! HE’S HERE! OLLIE IS HERE!!!!

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This little guy has been on the quite the journey to make it here but he made it! I can’t wait for you to meet little Ollie and his friends. They are so dear and I know your kids will love them. So if you have kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, godchildren, or children you even mildly like, GET THEM THIS BOOK!!! Such a fun little book for the Christmas season which, if you don’t know…is here. I say it’s here because I was at Target yesterday and they had Christmas décor aligning some of their shelves. Guys, it’s still October, but as I learned this week, there are only 9 MORE SATURDAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!! This is ludicrous!!

BUT….

If you go ahead and buy this book it can be an early Christmas gift for the little ones in your life. It might be the only time you’re early this year so jump on the Ollie train and BUY A BOOK TODAY so I can empty some of these boxes.

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Just click on the PURCHASE tab at the top of the blog and get it done. Boom.

And just for fun, here’s a video of me with my books. At some parts in the video, my face is enormous. My sincerest apologies.

Ollie’s first video

-Courtney

PS If you never got the chance to buy my other book, Rooster’s Balloon, that one is also available for purchase!

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Happenings lately

Rogers

(I saw this on Instagram and I loved it. There is always good. Even when it’s hard to see, there is still good.)

Sweet friends, so much has happened since the last time I posted to this blog. On a large scale, our country is grieving for those that were injured and killed in the Orlando shooting a few days ago. This makes my heart sick. It makes me sick to think there are people out there that are resolved to killing people who are not like them. These people thrive off being feared by others and it’s just disgusting. I hate that I had to talk to my sweet children about people like this as they just looked at me with confused faces, like “Why on earth would you kill someone just because they’re different than you?” I adore their innocence and it makes me ill that the world they are growing up in is not idyllic for them. I hate that they will have to witness hate that is beyond their understanding. People hurting groups of people to foster fear in the hearts of others is so cowardly. But I’m grateful that in these instances, I get to talk to them about Jesus. I get to tell them how Jesus is grieved for this community that lost so many. I get to tell them how Jesus would never think it’s ok to kill someone just because they’re different. Jesus commanded us to love one another. That’s it. I get to tell them that because of what Jesus did for us, we can be kind and love other people because we have hope. The brokenness of our world will only become more real to our children as they grow. I pray this reality will open their eyes to the beauty of what God did through Jesus. It’s all grace upon grace upon grace.

Ok, other happenings on a smaller scale include:

-It’s summer

-The kids ask me what we’re going to do every blessed day

-They also might eat me out of house and home (canihaveasnackmom?)(eventhoughiate20minutesago)

-Nash the dog tore his ACL and had surgery (ohmygoshthismightsendmeovertheedge)

-We are researching a gluten free diet for our family (ohmygoshthisishardtoo)

-It’s supposed to get up to 99 degrees this week and we all might melt

-I have come to terms with my inability to multitask (ijustcant)

-After 13 years of Kyle’s nagging, I finally caved and picked up a tennis racket (eatingcrow) (tennisisactuallyfun)

-My hopes of maintaining some sort of exercise regimen in the summer have come crashing down (doessweatingatthepoolcountasexercise?)

-My kids were at camps last week and Kyle and I ate ice cream every night (itwentdownsmooth)

-I’m learning to embrace my lack of productivity with kids at home (messyisthenewblack)

 

AND THE BEST ONE OF ALL…

-I’ve got another children’s book going to print!!!!!!!!! (YIPPPPEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!)

I’ll tell you more about the book as it gets closer to being finished, but just know it’s fun, has really cute illustrations, and will be a great Christmas gift! I literally can’t wait to tell you more!!!

Until next time…

-Courtney

 

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The Grizz

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This is Grizz. He was what Blake wanted the most this Christmas. I had a conversation with Grizz on Christmas Eve while I drove him to his new home. It went a little something like this:

“So, blue fish, I’m going to start by saying I’m so sorry. I know nothing about fish and you might be dead in 2 days. I feel bad for you, blue fish. I don’t know if we’ll remember to feed you and I can’t make any promises my kid won’t tap on the glass of your new home and bug the heck out of you. He’s really going to love you though. He’s going to love you so much he’ll probably ask me if he can feed you 15 times a day. I’ll try not to let him but he’s tall now and can reach the food so it’s basically out of my hands. Blue fish, I’m just so sorry. For real, you’re probably going to die soon but at least it won’t be in this lame cup. It will be in a little aquarium with rocks and a blue plant. Even though you’re close to death, I hope you have some happiness knowing that the little boy who’s receiving you is going to be stoked that you’re his fish. Like crazy excited. So at least you have that.”

I’m so happy to report that Grizz is still alive and well 2 ½ weeks after coming to his forever home! Can you call it a “forever home” with a fish? I don’t know, it’s better than saying your “temporary home before you start swimming upside down”, right? Anyway, Blake was SUPER excited about his fish and is actually quite good at remembering to feed him. He wanted to name him Grizz because his basketball team is the Grizzlies this year and since we have some Memphis roots, we cheer for the Grizzlies. Well, as much as I cheer for any team. Really this just means I get a little warm fuzzy when they play because I’m from Memphis but that’s about it. My boys are much better fans than I am. I know, Memphis peeps, I’m a huge disappointment. If it makes you feel better, Knoxville feels the same way about me.

I just wanted to take a minute and introduce you to the newest addition to the Allen house. Don’t worry, Nash is adjusting just fine.

-Courtney

P.S. Be on the lookout for some BIG news about my new children’s book!!! Excited doesn’t even cover it!!!

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Merry Christmas!!

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Merry Christmas from my family to yours! I love that my church had a snow machine for our 70 degree weather here in Nashville! Love to you all!

-Courtney

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A Little Christmas Note to Self

Dear 29 year old self,

It’s Christmas Eve. You are about to set out the presents from Santa for your precious little children. It’s the most exciting part of Christmas Eve. You can feel the anticipation building as you wait for the kids to fall asleep. You need them to fall asleep so you can start assembling the Cozy Coupe for little Blake. He’s only 1 but you’re sure he’s going to love it. Kyle is putting together Caitlin’s new bike which actually proves to be easier than the Cozy Coupe, much to your irritation.

It’s at this moment that, me, your 35 year old self, needs to interject. You have no idea but in just a few moments you are going to feel like the worst mother in the world. You are going to feel like a failure. You are going to say the F word. I know it’s shocking because you can’t even imagine what could go so terribly wrong that you would go from joyful excitement to utter devastation. It’s about to happen just try to calm yourself and keep perspective. You won’t but I thought I’d mention it anyway.

As Kyle begins to bring presents down and set them up, he says solemnly, “Court, um, you bought the Guitar Hero that goes to a PlayStation, not the Wii. It’s the wrong one.” WHAT?!?!?!?! That can’t be right! I checked! I was certain I had bought the right one! I looked at it and sure enough, it was the one for the PlayStation. I felt like I might be having a panic attack. This was the ONE thing Paxton really wanted. His ONE big present and I had screwed it up. I’m pretty sure this is when I said more cuss words than I had ever said in my entire life. I’m not proud of it, Mom, but it happened. Kyle went straight into fix-it mode. He was going to go to Walmart and get the right one. It was 11:30 at night. On Christmas Eve. Apparently even Walmart closes at some point during the holidays so that wouldn’t work. He then had the brilliant idea to call his brother, the gamer, who happened to be at his parents’ house in Murfreesboro to see if he had his guitar from his own Guitar Hero game. By some Christmas miracle, he does. (Don’t worry, Jordan, I won’t tell them how old you are J)

This is another moment I, your future self, need to pop in. Precious 29 year old self, it is all going to be ok. Don’t make Kyle drive in the pouring rain to meet his brother. I know you feel like a complete and total failure because you got the wrong thing but, for the love, you are not a gamer! You know Super Mario Brothers and that’s it. You can take down Bowser but other than that you know nothing. Cut yourself some slack here. He’s only 6 and he has plenty of other presents to play with. I know, I know, it’s the big one that you messed up but I’m here to tell you he won’t even care.

When Kyle asks you what you want him to do, you hiss at him, “Do whatever you need to do to make sure Paxton is going to be happy when he gets up tomorrow.” Wow. Strong words. You’re practically seething. So Kyle leaves to meet his brother while you wallow in self-disgust. When Kyle gets home, you decided to leave a note for Paxton from Santa saying he ran out of Guitar Heroes for the Wii so he brought Uncle Jordan’s to play with until his parents bought him the right one. It’s unbelievable the tales we tell for Santa.

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Christmas morning comes and the kids are stoked. They run downstairs to see what Santa has brought and squeal with delight over their new toys. (Actually, my children did not squeal with delight. Our expectation of their reaction on Christmas morning always far surpasses what we get from them. They’re happy, they just don’t squeal or yell or run around the house in excitement. Just once I wish that would happen.) Paxton is excited about his gifts and he doesn’t care that he has to borrow Uncle Jordan’s guitar. He was actually more excited about the silly bands in his stocking. Seriously.

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(I need not even mention the tube TV sitting on a chair. These were hard times.)

Ahem, 35 year old self here. See? Paxton loved it anyway. He didn’t even care that he got the wrong one and had to use his uncle’s. But here’s the kicker, you don’t know this yet but he will barely even play with Jordan’s guitar. It’s just not as awesome as he thought it would be. So much so that you end up returning the wrong Guitar Hero and not even buying the correct replacement. And get this: Paxton doesn’t care. If he had asked for the new one of course you would’ve gotten it, but he doesn’t. He lost interest after day 2 or 3. All that self-loathing for nothing. If you could just learn to have a little grace for yourself you wouldn’t waste so much energy being disappointed with yourself when you mess things up. Perfection is for Jesus, grace is for you. Until next time younger self…

 

Much love,

Your older and wiser self

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