what are your Christmas traditions?

The holidays always seem to be a time ripe with traditions. The things you've done year after year just take on more meaning the more you do them. I remember being a new mom and thinking we had to have all of our traditions decided - as if having a child necessitated that we have it all together, ha! Well, I've since learned that traditions can't be forced, or you'll resent them and the joy won't be there. Traditions are best when they're gradually gained over the years, through trial and error, and simply living life. They really start when you do something once, love it, and think, "That. That needs to happen again. Maybe every year" or if we're honest, they start out of habits that we like enough to keep, and gradually become that thing we always do. So what are yours?

Here are a few of ours that we've done, in some cases since we were children, in others, only in recent years.

1. Advent. You can read all about what we're doing this year here and see a recap of last year's here. It really has made Christmas so meaningful to us, whereas in the past it would seem like Christmas snuck up on us.

2. Clementines in the stockings. My mom and dad always did it, and I've continued the tradition! We all need something healthy on Christmas morning before we dive into cinnamon buns and cake. Cake?

3. Birthday cake for Jesus. This is kind of a cute thing we started two years ago that our kids seem to love, and hey, any excuse for cake, right?

4. Champagne on Christmas Eve. This is obviously just for the parents, but Brad and I have enjoyed a glass of bubbly as we're putting the kid's presents under the tree the night before Christmas. Whatever's left pairs nicely with orange juice the next morning :)

5. Board game family gift. Growing up, Brad and his brothers were always given a group gift of a board game to share and play together over the holidays. Board games are an investment, so the holidays seems the perfect time, plus your kids are about to have two weeks off school, so it's like giving yourself a gift, too! This year we chose Les Aventuriers du Rail (the French version of Ticket to Ride) for our kids, when Asmodee Canada reached out to us. It's perfect for our family, as it accommodates up to five players. Our kids love travel, so it seemed especially fun!

6. Nativity Play Set. We have a porcelain (read: breakable) Nativity set that sits on a higher shelf, but I also picked up a plastic set from the thrift store with the purpose of the kids playing with it whenever they like. It's a favourite toy! They even take the pieces in the bath sometimes, haha! Their friends from school love playing with our Nativity so much, their parents have told me their kids are asking for one at their house, too. I think that's kind of cool! Anything that can connect the true meaning of Christmas to little hands and hearts seems worth while.

7. Christmas books. We have a growing library of Christmas books that we reserve only for December each year. Our favouites are How The Grinch Stole Christmas, The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, and L'√©toile de Bethl√©em (a translated book, originally in English by Alan and Linda Perry) which has pockets with puzzles and activities inside. 

8. Christmas Day Bagels. Living in the Mile-End which is populated by a lot of Jewish families means everything is open on Christmas Day for us! We love to go on a family walk for hot bagels once we're ready to get out of our pajamas. The streets are full of neighbours all wishing one another glad tidings - it's times like this that I love city living the most, I think!

This post was in collaboration with Asmodee Canada,
all opinions are 100% my own.
To book a collaboration, contact me!


Nate The Kid!

Every once in a while you find a fun store that you just have to rave about. Nate the Kid is such a store, and I can't wait to share! Read on for a code for 10% off...

The Montreal-based, online store is run by a husband and wife duo, and has the most unique, curated collections of minimalist pieces for your little ones. It's also surprisingly affordable, which is so important to me. They have hard to find pieces like the adorable fox knee socks, which I'll be giving away on my Instagram this week! I caught up with Cindy, the store's founder (and mommy to Nate, most importantly!), and loved getting to know her entrepreneurial, creative heart. 
Cindy's parents moved to Canada from Korea, and she still has many connections there, which is how she's found many Korean small businesses to promote on Nate The Kid. These are pieces that you're not going to find at Gap Kids or H & M, and yet their pricing is similar. My favourite items are the bunny sweater, the pom pom sweater, the fox socks, and the super thick leggings.

As a graphic designer, Cindy is hoping to soon add prints and decor items to the shop too, so stay tuned for that! In the meantime, I'll be giving away one pair of those adorable fox socks this week and offering you 10% off all month long with the code OURNEST10.

I'm obsessed with the minimalist, modern look of these pieces! As a mother of a son and a daughter within 14 months, I really appreciate when clothes are neutral enough to hand down between brothers and sisters. I hope you enjoy getting to know this new shop, too! xo

This post was in collaboration with Nate the Kid,
a company I love and support. Opinions are 100%
my own. To book a collaboration, contact me!


You are not your worst parenting day.

Last week, I had a terrible morning with my kids. It was only a few minutes, but it added up to a terrible morning, full of regret and withheld grace.  That's where it often starts isn't it? A rude comment, a thoughtless action, a hurried resolution, if there was one at all.

Instead of coaching my child out of their tantrum (which in itself was filled with pride, anger, and lack of respect), I engaged and entered into those same sins in the name of "parenting". Sometimes we just get it so wrong as parents. As a mother who loves and follows Jesus, I know I need to extend grace and forgiveness to my children. Showing them Him is the crux of my job, and sometimes I fail at it. I can so easily correct them, but I am often too blind to see my own sins, even as they pertain to the sins of my children. Are they disrespectful? How have I modeled similar attitudes to them? Are they impatient? How patiently am I listening to their rant? Are they easily angered and frustrated? Is my voice rising as I tell them to "CALM DOWN!"?

The point is, I know I need to give my children grace as I teach them to love and follow Jesus, but I sometimes forget to give it to myself as well on this journey. I felt horrible for hours after I dropped my child off at school. Thoughts of condemnation swirling through my head all day.  I should have been more patient. I could have avoided the whole debacle by not choosing that moment to dig my heals in. Their character needed to be addressed, but why didn't I just wait until after school instead of sending forcing a lecture when we were already late for school? My pride kept the argument alive. How could I stoop to the level of a child in a stupid argument and not expect the results to be horrible? I failed my child this morning. 

Thankfully God used my husband to deliver the good news I needed to remember. I am not my worst parenting day. My identity is not in my best parenting moments, or my worst parenting failures. My identity is hidden in Jesus, and his perfect identity as God's son. I'm free from boasting or feeling above others when I'm getting this parenting thing right, and I'm free from despair when, like that morning, I get it all woefully wrong. I need grace just as much as my children, and I need to remember that the same God who motivates me to train up my children in love, kindness, and respect, died to wipe my slate clean, when I'm loveless, harsh, and rude.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. 
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  
not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  
Ephesians 2:7-9


Advent 2017

This year, Advent starts on November 26! I can't believe it's in just a few weeks. Last year was the first year we celebrated Advent with the kids in a rhythmic, nightly, organized way. It was nothing too intense and didn't require much prep at all, but it was so meaningful! The kids still talk about last year's Advent and they still know the big chunk of scripture that we memorized during those four sweet weeks. You can read about last year's plan here, and read here for an honest reflection half way through the four weeks.


This year, I'm planning to do a lot of the same things as last year - scripture memory, nightly gathering to light the candle, read scripture, and pray, and reading some Christmas story books. What's new this time is that I've bought the Kids Read Truth Advent table cards and Jennifer Naraki's Slow and Sacred Advent. I'm planning to intertwine both resources into our traditions. Personally, I'm going to be reading Tim Keller's Hidden Christmas. Has anyone read it?


If this will be your first year doing Advent with your kids, let me encourage you, it's so worth it, and not nearly as intimidating as it may seem. The key is just to start your tradition, to open up the Word of God with your kids, and to learn as you go. There's no one way to practice Advent, and if you're pointing their hearts towards Jesus and being consistent, you can't go wrong. And if you get off track, or miss a few nights, don't worry! There's grace! Just start where you left off, and continue on the road. Christmas was more meaningful last year than ever before, and I know it's because our hearts were truly ready to "prepare Him room".