Mary McBride

Mary McBride is mother to two Ethiopian daughters and wife to one geek husband. She lives in San Francisco with her sweet little family and one too many cats. Mary writes about adoption, family life, and her inability to resist dessert on her family blog, Finding Magnolia. Follow Finding Magnolia on Twitter and like them on Facebook to stay updated on all of their family adventures.

5 Steps for Making Room for the Holiday Toy Haul

As the main organizer of our home, one of the things I like to do between Christmas and New Year’s is to get things organized and tidied so that we start the new year with a clean household slate, so to speak. Everything has a spot to be in, and therefore we can easily clean up as well as find the things we need. With new things coming in for Christmas, this can be a bigger challenge than it might be at other times of the year, but to me, that’s why it’s even more important. In fact, I’d say that the biggest part of the job is finding room for all the new toys. However, now that I’ve been a mom for four holiday seasons, I’ve come up with a pretty good system for getting it done. Here are my five steps.

The Magic of Elvie's 2nd Christmas

Baby’s first Christmas is certainly something to celebrate, whether your baby is brand new or nearing a first birthday. We adored celebrating Christmas with Elvie last year, and I thought it couldn’t get any better, but it turns out that this Christmas was even more magical. She is so much more aware of everything now, and her joy radiates in a way it didn’t before. She knew what was happening this year, and she was just so very excited about it. Elvie’s sense of wonder this year reminded me of Zinashi the first year she was with us at Christmas. It’s as if a door to something new has been opened, and our children approach it with amazement. I took a ton of photos Christmas morning; it seemed that every moment was worth capturing. Today I sat down and gathered together my favorites. Here is Elvie’s second Christmas morning, in photos.

Planning Ahead to Get Good Deals at After Christmas Sales

Christmas Day is in full swing at our house, and I am taking a little breather between brunch and presents and diving into dinner preparation. You’d think I might take a nap, with all the effort that goes into a big holiday, but instead I’m thinking ahead to tomorrow. I’m not much of a day-after-Christmas shopper, as normally I prefer to avoid the crowds, but I’ve got a dentist’s appointment downtown tomorrow, so I’ll probably pop in a few places. Elvie’s second birthday is coming up in February, and it occurred to me that I might get some great deals on things she will love. However, I know the siren call of the sale price, and I want to make sure that what I’m getting are truly good deals, and not just purchases based on my excitement over how much I’m saving. Here are the five things I am going to consider when I shop tomorrow.

Making Time for Our Family of Four on Christmas Day

The holidays can be an incredibly busy time. There are parties to attend, gifts to buy and wrap, and special foods and drinks. It’s all incredibly fun, but it can be overwhelming for our kids as well. We are constantly going places that are either unfamiliar or only vaguely familiar, and some activities have our kids up later or out for longer during the day than they are used to. We want the holidays to be fun, but we also want to give our kids some time to just be, with no pressure or extra stress.

Early on in our family life, after Zinashi had just joined our family, Jarod and I sat down and discussed what we wanted our holiday time with our children to be like. Up to that point, we had just balanced out things between our two families as well as we could, and it worked out fairly well since it was just the two of us, and we could be flexible. When we expanded our family, however, we knew that we wanted to build our own traditions and to make space in our lives for peace and calm in the midst of this busy time of year. While many things are still somewhat flexible, there is one thing that we decided would be non-negotiable, every single year.

Elvie's First Christmas Pageant

Every year, our church puts on a simple little Christmas pageant. It is one of my favorite parts of the holiday season – there isn’t too much pressure on the kids, and everyone gets a good laugh out of any mayhem that occurs due to the smaller members of the cast being toddlers, and thus not very good at following instructions. Last year, Elvie was too little to participate, so she dressed in a white dress, like a tiny angel, and we watched her big sister from the audience. This year, she got to participate, as a bona fide member of the angel cast, and it was…okay, it was hilarious. We put her in her smaller brace system that we use for breaks during the day, and it made it much easier for her to be near the other angels, but also to get into mischief. A lot of our photos from the day are a bit blurry due to low light, but we don’t mind; they will serve as a reminder of Elvie’s very first Christmas pageant, and how fun it was for all of us. Please enjoy Elvie’s debut as a mischievous angel.

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