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Blog, christmas, Family, holidays, kids

Clem on the Shelf


I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas! Don has worked nights (holidays included) since our 7 year old was born so it’s been that long since he has spent a Christmas morning awake with us. He switched to the day shift last year right after Christmas so this was the first time he was able to spend Christmas morning with us. We were very excited to be able to start new traditions this year!

Unfortunately, yesterday all of our kids started getting sick. We’ve had 6 kids with coughs, 3 with fevers, 2 close to having a fever….and a partridge in a pear tree 😉 So we’ve had to reschedule our last Christmas gathering with Don’s family while we keep our germs at home and try to clean up the toy tornado left behind from Christmas day.

Anyway, over the past few weeks, I’ve been posting pictures as a part of a little photo series on my Instagram under the hashtag #clemontheshelf so I wanted to share them all here, along with sharing a bit about them.

Last year we had taken a picture of Clementine as a tiny little baby on our mantle and deemed it our “Clem on the Shelf” (you can see that picture HERE.) I’m sure you’re fully aware what an Elf on the Shelf is. While we don’t actually do the whole elf thing, we did have a lot of fun setting up these pictures of Clementine.

The first picture idea came to me while I was out running errands one day. I called Don (I hate talking on the phone so this must have been really important in my mind haha) and told him the whole idea I had for a picture. I am pretty sure I had more confidence in his photoshop skills than he did but he agreed that it sounded like a good idea.

By the time we were done talking about all the ideas with the first picture, I decided that I wanted to do a little mini series and already had multiple ideas floating through my mind. I knew they all obviously had to include our Clem on the Shelf. But I also wanted to incorporate our letterboard to help with the storyline of each photo.

With each photo, we would photograph Clementine separately and Don would photoshop her in later. He is actually currently working on a guest blog post to share a little behind the scenes look at how he did it. It isn’t exactly a tutorial but it does explain his process and what he learned through doing all these photos. I can see how his skills improved over the course of the past few weeks just from playing around and watching tutorials.

What I think is really neat is that some of these pictures are actually 3-5 pictures all layered together to make the final edit. It’s kind of amazing what goes into making one “simple” picture.

I think the best part about this project was working together with my husband to come up with the ideas. I usually pitched an idea and then we’d toss ideas back and forth until we came up with the end result. The hardest part (for me) was coming up with the letterboard quote. I’m pretty sure that with each of the quotes, I would ask Don what we should write and then turn down all of his ideas and just go with something I liked haha. But it still helped to hear his ideas because sometimes it sparked an idea for me.

The kids also had a lot of fun with this project and seeing how it all came together. When it came to the last photo and I wanted to do the reverse setup of our first photo, I was afraid that they would complain about being tied up and duct taped…especially with Desmond, our 2 year old. But they were all giggling and thought it was hilarious. I had a hard time find a photo where Desmond didn’t look too happy.

I think we need to print out a short little photo book with the pictures to set out every Christmas season. I think it’ll be really fun for the kids to look back on and see some of the fun memories we made together.

As for the question of our plans for next year, I do think our elf will be back! But it’s up for debate on if Clem will be taking on the role or if her new baby sister will be taking over. Clementine was actually not the easiest to work with this year. We had to get really creative with how to get her to cooperate (and it involved quite a few mini marshmallows.) But I love how they all turned out!

Now that this project is done, I feel that I have been depleted of all creativity so I’ll have to work to get out of that funk.

Thank you to everyone who followed along with our little series and for all the kind comments! We really had so much fun putting these together so it means so much that other people have enjoyed them too!

Blog, christmas, Family, holidays, Vlog

Christmas Cheer


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It’s that time again!! One of my favorite times of the year. Decorating the Christmas tree with my family in matching pajamas! This is our 3rd year doing it and I don’t see us stopping any time soon. Well, hopefully not. Teenagers still like to match their entire family and pose for pictures with them, right? Someone tell me that they do! For now, I will cherish these moments while they are still young enough to not only match us, but to actually love matching us! My pregnant self actually just teared up a little bit thinking of how fleeting these moments are. But I know we still have a few years so I’m going to enjoy it while I can!

This year we got these new pajamas! We had been wearing the same elf sets for the past 2 years so it was time for a change..especially since some of the kids’ pants had holes in the knees from wearing them so much. This year I decided to go with something a little less Christmas-y so we could rock them all year round. Not that we didn’t already do that with the elf jammies. But now I could actually photograph them all year without looking out of place. And can we talk about how much my husband enjoys it too? Because I know there are some husbands out there who would be totally opposed to the matching jammie thing. But Don is completely on board.

Before setting up our tree, I asked the kids if we could snap a few family photos. The focus and coloring is off on pretty much every picture but I still absolutely love them! My favorite part is seeing everyone’s personalities shining through. (Except sweet Clementine who would have rather not been in the pictures with us. I suppose she’s already embarrassed haha.)

While I was setting up the camera and testing out the camera remote, I happened to snap this adorable picture. Desmond’s smile melts me every time I look at it!

All of these pictures were taken the week before getting our new camera a lens so now we’re going to have to retake them to get better quality 😉 Anyway, after we were done taking pictures, we drug all our Christmas decorations out and started putting up the Christmas tree!

I didn’t start taking pictures until they were probably halfway done because I was helping them put hooks on the ornaments. But I did get a few photos!

And of course by the time I pulled out my camera, Desmond was pretty much done. I managed to find one picture on my camera to document the fact that he helped 😉

I love these pictures of the boys reaching up to hang the ornaments as high as they can. It won’t be long until they won’t need to find things to stand on.

When we decorate, I let the kids put up all the ornaments on their own. It ends up looking like colorful chaos. It’s beautiful because it’s their creativity shining through. But I’ll be honest, I want my tree to look nice too! So after they are done decorating and have moved on to other things, I go back and rearrange it how I like it!

The past couple of years they didn’t really care. This year I could tell they were kind of wanting to keep it the way it was. I mentioned buying them a clearanced tree after Christmas to put upstairs so that they could decorate however they wanted. They were so excited! They love the rainbow tree that we ended up with. But I know they’d also love to have a bit more control with creativity. So I’m excited that we found a solution that everyone is happy with!

Clementine had been napping up until this point. When she came out, she had so much fun playing with all of the ornaments. It made me very nervous that we’d spend the whole Christmas season redirecting her. But thankfully it hasn’t become too much of an issue. It’s kind of funny that I prepare myself every year to have a toddler destroying our tree and then they barely notice its existence.

I love our bright, cheery rainbow tree during the day. And also the cozy, magical vibes it gives off at night. I saw Don playing around with the camera by the tree so that made ME want to do it. I always love the glow it casts on everyone’s faces.

And this itty bitty Clemmie hand reaching for an ornament!

Also, this super grainy, but super adorable picture of the kids. They all kept lining up on the window sill and asking me to take pictures. The way Desmond is looking at his big brother is just the sweetest so I had to include it in this post!!

Before you go, make sure you watch the vlog from our Christmas tree decorating!!

And if you want to see our tree decorating from years past and see how much everybody has grown, you can click HERE for last year’s and HERE  for two years ago! Have a happy weekend!