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1. What is your families most meaningful tradition for the Holidays?
Growing up my dad would take us out to eat at a random restaurant the week before Christmas. Usually it was one that wasn’t very popular or in a bad part of town. My dad would engage the waiter or waitress in conversation, get their story and we would eat our meal without much thought. They typically lived a life of hardship and were barely getting by. After we received our bill he would put cash in it and then he would quickly rush us out the door, jump in the car and take off. As a little girl, it was just a fun time with my family, but as I got older, I realized that my dad would pay for our meal and then slip a $100 bill in with it. Shedding a little light in someone’s life who could really use it. My husband and I have adopted this tradition into our family and although my kids are way too young to understand what we are doing I look forward to the day when we can teach them the importance of compassion and giving.
2. It’s the beginning of December! Do you have any traditions that start December 1st? Do you decorate before December?
I am a firm believer that each holiday deserves its time, so for us, Christmas doesn’t start until the day after Thanksgiving. At the begging of our kids, we had Christmas decorations out, our tree up, and lights on the house as soon as Thanksgiving was over. Christmas music and movies seem to be a daily occurrence and I love it! Something we do leading up to Christmas is our advent tree. We have a tree with pockets that hangs on our wall and in each pocket there is something that we can do to serve others or to bring us closer to Christ. We write them all down, mix them up and then randomly place them. Our kids took part in giving ideas for it this year and as simple as some of them are it was fun to see them get excited about it. Today we ended up with one that my son had suggested and it was “pick Stacy’s weeds.” My kids are very early risers so at 6am we were bundled up and sneaking around our neighbor’s yard picking their weeds. I am hoping tomorrow’s doesn’t involve anything outside!
3. It’s not a holiday question but we are dying to ask… tell us what life is like with 3 sets of twins?!
I could go on forever with this topic...life with three sets of twins is incredibly busy, but so very rewarding. We went from being told we may never be able to have children to three sets of twins in 27 months. Our first two sets were from IVF and our third set was a complete surprise—a much welcomed surprise (after the shock wore off) seeing that we didn’t think we would be able to have anymore children. We learned early on that a schedule is a must with our little ones. There are so many moving parts that if we don’t stick to it, it creates a ripple effect and, trust me, it’s not good! I think my favorite thing about our situation is watching them all together. The bond that each set has with each other is amazing, but to watch the bond that all six have with one another makes my heart smile. I always knew that I wanted to be a mother, but I never imagined that my life would be like this. Is it challenging? Absolutely! But I wouldn’t change it for the world. My babies are my biggest blessings and at the end of the day, no matter how hard of a day it was with them, I can’t help but go to bed with gratitude in my heart knowing they are mine.
4. What is on your kids Christmas list this year? How do you shop for 6 kiddos and stay organized?
This year I was good about making lists for my kids. Of course I always find last minute gifts that I will get, but the bulk of my shopping is done! My girls are all about tea parties these days so I ordered them the cutest tea party set. The best part about it is that it’s metal so I don’t have to worry about it breaking! I also got them a darling tent. I foresee lots of quality sister time in there. I am sure big brother will end up in there, too.
5. We’d love to hear your best tips for family photos!
I really love family pictures! It is next to impossible to get a decent picture with all of my kids so our once-a-year photo shoot is something I really look forward to. It is so stressful, but when It’s all over and I see the results, it makes it all worth it. I actually had all of our outfits figured out a few months ago and then Alice + Ames released their fall collection and I completely switched gears. I am a planner, so my biggest tip would be to be completely ready and have all the details figured out before picture day. I always have my “uh-oh bag” on site in case we need to fix someone’s hair, change a diaper, or wipe off muddy shoes. Kids always find the mud…always! It’s always a party with my crew and I love it!
Jen you are truly amazing! I teared up twice reading these sweet answers and I love the idea of leaving a extra big tip for a waitress, we might have to steal that for our family this year! Thanks for being here, Jen!