Top 5 Favorites this Christmas Season

All Things Merry and Bright

Man I can’t believe Christmas is only a few days away!!! Wow I feel like just last week we were putting up our lights and tree. I’m super excited for the big day and all the festivities coming up soon, just want it to slow down a little bit. I’m feeling nostalgic this season and everything seems to hold a little more meaning to me this year. Josh tells me it’s because of hormones, and he could be right, but I’d like to think differently. I’d like to think its more along the lines of: I’m feeling the spirit run through me and just can’t help but be completely enthusiastic for the season.

Either way I have enjoyed this year. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s our first Married Christmas that makes it so special, or the fact that indeed I am carrying, that makes it uber special for the family and myself. Whatever the reason, I have completely enjoyed the season. So I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite things. The top five things to be exact, things I have enjoyed this season and hopefully you all will enjoy something similar to these with your family.

1. Enjoy your surroundings. From the beginning, decorating our home this year was fun for me because we actually came up with a “color scheme” that actually pulls together all of our decorations we had before we met. I have been stuck on the white and silver kick, and Josh had all the colors, as he says, “What is Christmas without color?” Thanks to my husband, I have begun to love the brightness of the colors. I have fallen in love with all the perks of a tree, like the gold garland, the colored and white lights mixed together around the tree, the train that goes ’round and ’round the tree that makes the kids scream, and lastly, the candy canes that go on at the end for the finishing touches. I have to admit it took me a while to come around to it all, but how happy he gets when the tree has it all is fun to watch. It was a tradition that he did with his Aunt and Uncle and now it has become part of our family’s tradition. It’s cute to see how Ayden even remembered the candy canes because at first we didn’t have them on, and he said, “Mom, mmmmm, something is missing.” The second thing, Josh has had this red tree skirt that I have never really loved but matched the tree so we’ve used it. Yet, I had this pretty big, fluffy tree skirt that I bought before I met him and wanted to use but it just didn’t flow with the tree. Well, this year Josh surprised me with red and gold pendant wreaths to hang on our gameroom doors that just make the living room look complete! Those two wreaths gave me so much Christmas spirit because then I was able to flow the red and gold into every room with the touches of silver that I had and it’s just like a Williams Wonderland should look. I told Josh how happy and excited I was with everything this year, and he gave a funny look and asked, “What, you didn’t like every other year?” Taken back a little, I had to quickly respond with an explanation of the importance of cohesiveness. The response my husband gave me was one that made me so thankful and happy that I married him. He simply looked at me and said, “Ashly, you don’t have to have the perfect decorations, and themes for it to be Christmas. Christmas is still Christmas without all the glitter.” Now admittedly, I do know why he said it; it’s  really because he hates glitter all over the house throughout the month since it’s almost impossible to get rid of. It seem like every night one of our kids has glitter somewhere on them when they go to bed. All jokes aside, I know the true meaning of what he said, and the value of it. He’s so right, it’s not about all the little details that not one other person besides my mom has even seen this year. It’s not about every room having Christmas spirit, (although they all look super adorable) it’s about the meaning of Christmas being about who it’s spent with not with the things around you or under that tree.

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2. Go on a Christmas Adventure. the second week we finally had little man for our weekend so we decided to go have a Texan Christmas at Gaylord Convention Center that was full of Christmas festivities.

For starters, we couldn’t ask for a better start to the weekend because it snowed here in Austin the night before we left!! To wake up to a trip the kids were already excited about with a white morning was the best. It was so much fun to make snowangels with the littles, to see the snow fall and try to catch snowflakes on our tongues was funny. Addie wasn’t too excited but boy was she cute!!! We even made the tiniest little snowman I ever did see!!

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Once we got to Grapevine, we had snow tubing with Dad, Ice Sliding, Snowball Throwing, and got to tour ICE! The most amazing ice sculptures we have ever seen. Each room had a theme with sculptures 32 feet high and it was 9 degrees!!! Can you say brrrrrrr!!! Super cold!!!!

We all had snow gear on and they gave us parkas to wear over it all. It was hilarious to see us trying to manage all the coverage but our youngest wearing the full snow body suit with the parka walking around stole the show. It was hilarious, she was like a little marshmallow!! At the end of the tour there was a room full of iceslides that the big kids loved!!! Ayden went down until is little cheeks turned red. Check out the video below to see the highlight reels.

The next day we took all three kids to go ice skating for the first time. Never did we know that it would be so much fun mixed in with temper tantrums to equal one overall amazing time. To start with the bad as most people like to hear first, Little miss threw a huge fit because she didn’t want to get off the ice and I couldn’t keep holding her up from laughing so much at her being silly, she couldn’t quite keep her feet under her atfirst. Finally, we got a polar bear from nice girls that offered it to us, after asking help of course, and she was able to push it around like a big girl screaming the whole time, “I’m doing it Mommy!!! I’m a big girl!!!” Meanwhile, wearing skates that were three times too big because they didn’t have her small size. Amazing!

The progression that Ayden had while ice skating for the first time was amazing as well!!! My husband has always commended me on how well I learn things and how fast I pick them up. Well, it looks like Ayden is just like his momma and learns quickly as well! We were so proud of him, with just a quarter round of clinging to the wall, the other half to me, he was ready to try on his own. Then just two falls later, he had it down by himself!! Sooo amazing! It really is fun to see your kids learn something new, but to see them excel fast, stay patient while doing it, and never give up, just makes you feel so proud of not only them but yourself too. It makes you feel like you’re doing something right in parenting them. Now, I know as a parent its not always exactly motivating to get them all ready and try something during the holidays with tons of people doing the same thing, but the reward in the end really is worth it. The reward is their smiles and the constant bragging they do about their accomplishments around the house as they re create the experience.

 

The rest of the time has been full d festive moments that I can’t help but love. So the last two are home activities that have been a favorite of mine because they’re close and personal.

3. The annual s’more making tradition. Every year once the decorations are up we gather around the fireplace and make s’mores. It’s so funny because each year we have a new member added to the family so we never know what they’re going to do. Ayden has become quite proficient at it and barely needs help but admittedly, only likes to roast them but not eat them so much. It takes him like 30 minutes just to eat one marshmallow because it gets so sticky he doesn’t know what to do with it. However we’ve told him, he can’t roast anymore if he’s going to waste them so he musters through it. Aliyna is in love with s’mores, something else another one of my children gets from their mother. I love them and can eat them everyday. I have loved them since I was 14 when I had my very first one!! My parents used to buy me s’more ornaments for the tree and s’more makers for Christmas!! Awe flashback to childhood christmas’. That’s why I love this tradition so much, it’s something I have loved for a very long time and love to see my family falling in love with it as well. That brings us to Addie, who absolutely adores it, just doesn’t understand it. She’s up close and personal, watches, and enjoys to eat it of course, gets excited because everyone else does too, just isn’t too sure about the fire stuff. If you’re kiddos don’t like chocolate, or the marshmellows or something about the s’mores, just try roasting by the fire, because the cuddles we all got with the kids by the fire, is always a favorite.

4. Start a new Santa Tradition. I normally don’t do any of the new Santa traditions that they do now only because I try to keep the focus on Jesus, and to be honest each year there’s just more and more new things that I can’t keep up with. My main focus is to keep the joy of Santa and Christmas alive through old fashioned stories and games. The one thing I have always done is find a local spot that delivers letters to Santa and make that moment special. This year I happened to come across a special mail box that delivers letters to Santa whenever we want. I bought it and brought it home. It is connected straight to the North Pole with a specific elf who comes to our house and picks up these letters every night. We have used this special box to even write apologetic letters to Santa when we make mistakes. It has served a bigger purpose than just a wish list. There is always something you can try that can cause some sort of new excitement for your family. It doesn’t have to be something big just try something new and see where it takes your family.

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5. Make family Memorabilia. Lastly, we made a cute Handprint Christmas Tree deco that I had to share. It’s our first family Christmas tree!! The little hands are the cutest! Each one knew it was special because they all waited their turn patiently and would scoot closer and closer to get their hand painted so they could make their mark! Family in the end has become a huge stigma this Christmas season and I’ve enjoyed seeing us grow, get excited in our own little ways. To see us carry out our own traditions that I hope will last a lifetime, not only with us, but that they burn bright within my children that will make them want to carry these on with their children.

So again- My top five favorite Christmas Traditions this Season:

1. Enjoy the surroundings God has given you, no matter what they are.

2. Go on an adventure, somewhere and do something new with your family.

3. S’more Traditions is always an excuse for extra cuddles

4. Try a new Santa tradition even if it’s against everything you believe in, for the sake of your children, to keep the Xmas spirit alive.

5. Make something memorable for that year with your family. Whether it be an ornament, a letter, or a canvas Family Christmas Tree deco sign like ours. Make it for keepsakes.

If you would like to know more about Grapevine please comment below! I’ll share whatever I can to help start a new tradition.

Merry Christmas to all

-Ashly Williams (Diebel)

Our highlight reel from a Lonestar Christmas at Gaylord Texan :

A Gentleman’s Suit

Today marks one month that I have been married!!!! I can’t believe it!!! To think it felt like just yesterday I was running around doing all the last minute planning and picking up all the groomsmen, and my dad’s suits. Speaking of suits, one of those suits was a little five year old ring bearer’s suit.

I never could have imagined a suit holding so much power. Now, as a parent I should have known better, but as a little boys mother, it shouldn’t have come as such a shock to me. After all the kid has an armoire full of “different suits” that make him be anything he wants for the day!! I’ve raised an astronaut, a robot, a fireman, an army ranger, a doctor, a police officer, countless super heroes and have even had to feed my very own burglar while he was in jail. The boys imagination has always ran wild and has always fascinated me. The sounds alone a little boy can make at the age of 2 astonishes me. It’s like they take some hidden class for that at some point!!

In raising a little boy, you try to enhance their imagination, it’s food for their soul, and their little brains. All the meanwhile, trying to make sure that your raising a little gentleman with manners, respect, honesty, compassion, bravery, and back bone to stand up for what he believes in. This literally keeps me up at night sometimes when we experience a day of time outs , fits, and “Mommy, you make me sad!” moments. I worry am I doing the right things, am I too hard on him, should I try something different, should I have taken more/less away from him?

However on our big day, every worry, every fear of what kind of man my son is going to be, every doubt of selflessness, or kindness that he may not show or give…were all gone.

It’s all in the power of a suit, the moment a little boy took his astronaut pajamas off, and put on a mans suit, and became a gentleman. It was a moment I realized, I no longer have a little boy, but a little gentleman.

It all started off when it was time to get ready. I showed him his suit that he has been waiting for for three weeks. He had been asking about it ever since we went for his fittings. He was excited to pick it up, he was overjoyed I think that it was time! He said he wanted to put it all on himself, I asked politely, “well can I just help you?” His response, “I’ve got this Mom”. I watched the boy for ten minutes try to figure out his shirt cuff buttons, looking back at me one time. He tried and tried! Finally he said, “Mom, can you help me please? But with just one button okay?! So that way I can watch you and do the other one.” I laughed inside, smiled at him, and responded, “I’d love to help you, but honey there’s only one button to use.” I went into further explanation of the two cuff buttons per sleeve, did his second sleeve, and continued to his shirt buttons only to get a, “NO MOM! I can do these!!!”

I’ve got this Mom- Ayden

I watched him with pure adoration. It was a beautiful sight to see on a beautiful day. He went on to put his bow tie on by himself and his coat jacket, not tucking his shirt in but it was okay with me. I was proud of all he did. Now to the final touches, his shoes! He couldn’t wait to wear those because he knew they matched daddy’s! He was so handsome! He got dressed and went straight down stairs to line up.

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When we went down the isle, apparently little sister saw too many peeps and froze up, he was a gentleman then, and patiently tried to motivate and coach his little sister in continuing the mission. I missed the whole show because I was waiting with my daddy for my turn. When I finally got down there, the moment I reached the spot where we all rehearsed to be, Ayden says to me, ” Mom, I walked down the isle!! Is there anything else you need me to do?” My son, a five year old, asking me if there’s anything else he can do for me during our ceremony!!! 😩❤❤😂😂 Joshua and I exchanged looks and we both knew we were so proud of him in that moment.

He stood there the whole time, not playing with leaves, sticks, or making noise. Just holding his sign and my ring. He was not going to mess up his duties in any way. Not even when his sister tried to give him a leaf to play with. That’s devotion!! I’ve never seen this kid pass up a rock, stick, or leaf.

Then he just continued being a little gentleman, he did great during photos, always smiled, never complained. When it was finally time to eat, one of my bridesmaids set him up at the end of the table where all the guys were sitting. I look over at him and he grabs his napkin, flops or open, folds it in half, and lays it in his lap like we sometimes practice at home! Son my heart was full of proudness, love, emotion. I called out to him asking if he wanted to sit next to mommy and daddy and he said, “I’m fine down here Mom.” Never asked for anything while he ate, ate all his food, and just remained being this little gentleman that I could not stop watching.

Don’t get me wrong, it was all beautiful, and the day was filled with many beautiful moments. This one however was something that could only make any parent proud. To top it off a pregnant bride who wanted to cry. He was def one of my top five favorite things of the day. I never knew a suit could hold so much power, for it was literally the moment he put it on, he became this person that eased my soul. That calmed my fears. For it was on that day, I knew my little boy was going to have good character, show others he had a kind heart, show selflessness, respect, and above all that he was already Mommy’s little gentleman.

A Leap of Faith

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

Two years ago I was constantly asking when I should move my children to having a closer relationship with God. My mentor told me, “Ashly, just exercise it in your life and they will pick it up along the way”. Not only was it the best advice I ever heard, but it made the whole topic lighter for me. I didn’t fear making the wrong moves, I no longer had the fear of destroying them by forcing something on them. I no longer worried if what I was doing was right. In the end, what I’m doing was more than what I had as a child. It reminded me to just keep on growing my faith and my relationship with God and to allow them to be bystanders watching from the front row and hopefully falling in love with the show as much as I have.

As a parent I’ve always just wanted them to love as God has loved us. To never feel empty inside, and to just believe in something more than just themselves. I have never forced my beliefs on them, I have only tried to create activities and prayers that allow them to begin to know who God is. To share stories from the bible so they can begin to understand how mighty our God is.

A few sites that I have found in my search are easy, fun, and convenient. I only use two of these still but have enjoyed several apps, and websites that have added value in one way or another. The top five websites/ apps that I have tried and enjoy are:

With those being said, we have thoroughly enjoyed three years of ABCJesusLovesMe activities and daily school work. My oldest has completed three years of it, my middle has done two years and now the youngest has enjoyed a handful of activities I have chosen for her. The activities are great because umm….are you ready for this, THEY’RE FREE!!! Let me repeat that, for starters, they’re free! Secondly, ABCJesusLovesMe has weekly activities for each age group for the whole year that you get to hand pick for your child. The best, it isn’t just about God, they have activities that teach personal hygiene, manners, sign language, and of course letters, numbers, and words. It’s great for homeschooling parents with many resources.

I’ve loved it for having amazing activities that my children have loved throughout the years. One that has introduced my children to God in a fun, easy, no pressure way. There are several that have been forever imprinted in my heart because they made lasting impressions in my children’s minds and hearts as well. For instance the apple activity. You cut up an apple and discuss faith with your children, is a lot like a seed in an apple. You can’t see it at first, but when you cut the apple up, and look closely, you can see a seed surrounded by a beautiful star. Just like God, you can’t see him, but because we have faith in him, we knows he’s there, around us, and within us.

A new activity that I have recently begun is an app that I found from my church that I have attended for seven years, HCBC. My kids go to Sunday school there, and my oldest has recently begun the process to get enrolled into the school. I’m constantly roaming their site to find resources for parents and came across an app. Now, I will wholeheartedly admit that I hate using apps for everything, because for me its clutter. This however is an app that adds value to my children’s life. It’s called Parent Cues. It gives you cues on when to discuss God with your children in your everyday lives with your children. It’s great! It has many features that I love.

To begin with the Countdown:

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“There are approximately 936 weeks from the time a child is born until they grow up, graduate, and move on to whatever is next. Since your time with your kids is limited, consider counting down the weeks. Why?”

When you see how much time you have left, you tend to do more with the time you have now. 

Then there are the Cues:

Parent cue app cue

Not only because it has cues during normal routines that make it easy and not forced to talk about God with your children, but it has cute videos, and the best…it coincides with what they discuss in Sunday school. I have been told by many people, and read in articles and other blogs to find ways to have your children involved with people with your same mindset, that speaks of God in the same way. This app works along with what they discuss in the youth church groups. No matter how involved you get or where you join your child in, the same topics are discussed.

I have to admit, it was the most amazing thing to see my son light up when I discussed with  him the cues that were given to me during the week, that were already discussed during that week at Sunday school.  He was so proud that I knew it, and that he could show me, and most importantly that we could go over that topic together and further in depth. It is a little saying now that has been used thoroughly in our household now for three weeks. It’s not only a simple statement that he learned at Sunday school, reinforced by me, but one that is meaningful, useful, and purposeful. One that helps build his character and one that deepens his understanding of God.

I gained affirmation from him the day I saw his face light up. Affirmation that I was not only doing the right thing, but that I was on the right path to leading him in his own journey. Parenting is tough, and mentoring your child is even tougher. I took a leap of faith when I started pointing them to God, and take one everyday when I use little activities and apps to help me along the way. I pray to God to lead me to guide them to be closer to him, so they can serve him, so they can feel him, and so they can learn to quite the world and hear him, and above all so they can love like him.

3 Things I have learned from all this:

  1. Just take the Leap of faith- Don’t wait for signs.
  2. Pray about it, but seek it out as well. Do research, and more research.
  3. Join a community that shares your beliefs, for yourself and your children.

Fitness 4 All Blog

Overall Fitness For All 

I want to start out explaining why we start this blog and how we can help you strive to maintain overall balance so you can live a fit life.

As a family of five, we had to learn very fast how to force ourselves to slow down. With so many to-dos and life’s daily adventures it easy to get distracted and to just go along living life from one moment to the next. We all live in a fast paced, half digital/half reality world, flying in a whirlwind of memories that pass you by. We started to feel like life was getting too hectic and wanted to find ways to remain connected with each other.  Not only with one another, but with everything that truly matters to us. In the end, we all live our lives one day at a time. Some are up and some are down, and most days reside somewhere in between, but we trek through them the best way we can, constantly striving for balance. At times I feel like I fail more than succeed. It seems like with each added kid, or added extra curriculm it gets harder and harder for our family to stop and take a moment; a moment to appreciate life, a moment to take a deep breath to gather ourselves, or even a moment to focus on who we are. We did a lot of self-evaluating, planning, and deciding on who we wanted to be. Most importantly, what kind of family we wanted to be.

We are a God-fearing family, who needs and relies on God’s love. So we chose to spread it in any way we can. Even when life was hard I have always just told myself, show love in this situation, find a way, or at least I ask myself if there is a way I can show love here? Not every situation or moment in life is that simple, it’s a struggle, a hard one at that. We would know, we’ve been through our own tough struggles and continue to. It’s just life. So for us, to spread love, is to share.

This blog is us sharing the way we try to find our balance. We are far from perfect, and still have many things to learn about life. We just happened to find that balance when we consistently focus on four areas that we feel are crucial to our overall well-being. To us, well-being, health, and fitness is one in the same, we aren’t trying to change their definitions, we just strive to live and obtain it.  To obtain that level of overall fitness for all is when we can achieve equilibrium in our spiritualityphysicality, mental and emotional stability. We like to look at it as nature does, it’s constantly trying to achieve equilibrium. For example, our sun, as it burns at fusion temperatures, the energy created pushes outward making it want to expand. However, gravity is pushing inward with the force of the sun’s mass thus creating a harmonic state that makes up what we know as our solar systems star. This is the balance we are searching for. This beautiful, hard to comprehend, seems like impossible, or perhaps a miracle, balance.

Now there’s obviously other things in life that help us stay sane and enhance the balance in our lives like friends, hobbies, careers, finances, and our own individual interest. We just feel like the four areas that are the main focus can be used in all facets of our lives. Each category needs the other to be strong, and needs it to enhance it’s own. They all intertwine, and they all collide. For another example, whether you’re at home, working, or even resting, you need emotional balance and your health to be on point so you can be the best you can be for wherever your day takes you. When you have a hard day, you need your mental stability to lead you past the hardships, when you’re stressed, you need emotional and mental stability to help with your sanity for your sake and for your whole family’s health. These four categories are not just for one type of person, or for experience only, its healthy fitness tips for all; old, young, far and wide, semi-fit, overweight, Christians, Non-believers, Agnostic, stay-at-home mothers, stay-at-home fathers, workers, entrepenuers, step parents and grandparents. The list goes on and on.

We want to meet you in your life journey, wherever that may be, and present you with some of our own life experiences, struggles, techniques, goals, and perspectives, as well as tools that we have found helpful along the way; to hopefully help you and/or your family. We hope that in sharing our journey we can help people get through this hustle and bustle thing we all call life – only with a new perspective of what maintaining fitness means. It’s maintaining overall fitness in 4 areas to live a well balanced healthy fit life. Now how bout it, Can we all shout it?

All For Fit – Fit For ALL

 

 

All 4 Fit - Fit 4 All | Overall Fitness 4 All