Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Gearing up for 2015

Wow!  We are at the end of 2014 and I couldn't be happier to be bringing in a new year!  Welcome 2015, welcome!!!

Along with a new year, comes new beginnings.  I have ordered my new Erin Condren planner!  I am so excited!!!  I love that I get to personalize the front and back cover with pictures of my family.  

 Here is the one that I have used during 2014.  I can't wait to get my new one!  :)

I don't really have a list of new years resolutions, but here are a couple of things that I'm hoping to be intentional about this year.

*I'm always trying to be a better wife, mother and homemaker.  This will never change, as it's always on the list.  It just goes without saying...  :)

*Get my camera out every day and use it.  I got really burnt out taking pictures for other people all the time and running a photography business for a couple of years, that I have to force myself to get out and take pictures now.  While trying to make a career out of a hobby... it turned into more work than fun.  I want to bring the fun back.

*I'm planning to jump in and join a bible reading plan with Courtney over at Women Living Well. It's just 1 chapter a day.  If you are hoping to dig further into the bible this coming year, you should join in too. 

How about you all... do you have any resolutions for the new year?

Have a blessed and Happy New Years!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas 2014

We have a huge extended family.  As long as I can remember, we've always gotten together with all of them for pretty much every occasion.  A simple birthday party, can mean that there might be close to 30 family members there.  We decided last year that it was time for our little family to have Christmas Eve on our own.  So this was our second year to spend it at home.  As much as I miss spending it with everyone else... it was time.  Christmas can become so busy and overwhelming.  This year, we spent the day finishing up the last of the wrapping.  The kids watched a Christmas movie and we played a board game.  We had a simple ham dinner, sat around and just spent time being a family. 

A few years ago, my sister Lindy, gave me one of our Great Grandma's china sets.  So for the last 2 Christmas's, we pull out our fancy plates, drink out of our wine glasses and pretend we're fancy.  Ha!  The kids love it, and I love that I can put the beautiful plates to use. 

After we ate, we got cleaned up and went into Church for our evening service.  I think my family took up a good 5 rows.  The kids are slowly starting to out number the adults and I'm pretty sure, we look like a hot mess!  Ha! 

Saturday morning, the kids woke us up by 6:30 and we went out to see what Santa had left for us.  I think Santa gets an A+ and is going to take it easy the rest of the week.  It's so strange having the kids grow up and outgrow toys.  :(  I kind of miss the days of match box cars, barbies, and such.  This year Gracie wanted a bigger bed, Emma wanted a desk with a computer chair, and Jesse wanted a Seahawks bean bag, and a couple of nerf gun accessories.  It was simple, but perfect. 

After we were done opening presents, we headed over to Lindy's house where we have our annual breakfast.  Now this breakfast, is one that we wait all year long for.  Seriously, it's a BIG deal.  As a kid, my Dad always made this breakfast for the first day of school and for Christmas morning.  Now that I don't go to school... I only get it on Christmas morning.  Once a year is NOT enough. 

This is it! Dad's waffles, with this hot, homemade brown sugar syrup, with huckleberry's.  We wait all year for this!  We eat, until we can't eat another bite.  And today, I'm wishing I would have found room for just a couple more bites.  Because the count down is on, until I get to have it again!  :(

Mom and her coffee.  It can be 100 degrees outside and she's still drinking her hot coffee.  

Since we had all of my immediate family at breakfast, we all ran out and snapped a quick picture.

The original 6.
I am a middle child, along with Lindy.  She's the one next to my Mom.  Jared is the oldest, and then Leslie is the baby.  It's crazy to think that we went from this, to...

 I love them all so much, and feel so blessed to be apart of this big, crazy, happy family!

After breakfast we came home, relaxed a bit, and got the house picked up and ready for everyone to come back over and hang out.  After cooking for Christmas eve and having a big Christmas morning breakfast, we keep it simple for dinner.  Everybody brings different finger foods, and we put out ham from the night before.  It's perfect!

My sister Leslie had a new game for us to play.  It was like charades.  It's on her phone, and we each took turns holding it up to our forehead and we'd have to guess at all the clues that people gave us.  You tip the phone one way to pass and another way if you got it correct.  Definitely a lot of laughs, during this game. Ha!

And while we were playing our game, the kids were all over the house doing their thing.  Looks like we had some karaoke in one room.  Haha!  
Christmas 2014 was a success!
I hope you all had a great Christmas and are taking it easy today.  

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!!!

...And just like that, Christmas is here!  :)

I always have great plans to be super organized and ready for when Christmas arrives.  Well, not this year folks.  Ha!  I'm making my grocery list this morning.  Eeek!  ;)

Saturday, Dan's parents came down and met us for lunch.  We exchanged gifts and visited a bit, before they headed back home.  And then later, we ended up going to 2 different movies.  Our town theater isn't open anymore unless somebody rents it out.  The local theater in town didn't have enough money to upgrade the equipment to play the new released movies, so it's just closed down most of the year.  :(  Anyway a couple of movies were playing last weekend, in memory of my grandparents who both passed away almost a year ago.  They would have loved it!
I hadn't seen Polar Express before, and was really excited.  I have always heard so many mixed reviews on it, but I ended up loving it!!!   As for Christmas Vacation, who doesn't love that one?! 

Sunday is crazy like every Sunday around here.  The kids had practice in the morning for their church Christmas concert and then they had the concert, went to bowling league... and I can't remember the rest of Sunday.  Ha!

Monday, I worked all day,  ran home and warmed up left overs, fixed Emma's hair and we all ran back to town for the kids school concert.  It was packed!  We had to stand in the back of the dark gym, so needless to say my pictures from my phone look awful.  When we got home, it was time to start baking cupcakes for Emma's class party.  And nope, they're not gluten free.  :)  At this point, I figured they were just going with Emma to school, so I didn't care. 

 Jesse, thankfully had only volunteered for apple juice.  I can do that!  ;) 

Yesterday, was the last day of school for the kids.  So today we are going to be enjoying our day and enjoying being with family!  We'll be going to our Church service tonight, which is always so neat.  I love teaching my kids that we celebrate, because our hope is in Jesus. 

I hope you all have the best Christmas ever!!!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Favorites

It's FRIDAY people, and today I thought I would share some of my favorite things from this week, so I'm linking up with Erika, Andrea and Narci for Friday Favorites.

On this day, Emma and I went horseback riding.  She really wants to go again.  :)

I had a couple free hours one afternoon, and I decided to turn on a Christmas movie and get some of my wrapping done.  Bliss!

Going gluten free, we were worried that we'd miss out on the holiday goodies, but with the gluten free flour that I got at Costco, we were able to make chocolate chip cookies.   Normally I wouldn't make chocolate chip cookies for Christmas, but I wanted to make sure that they would turn out, before I went to all the trouble to make something else.  They turned out good and I don't think my family would have noticed a difference.  So we will be continue with our baking this weekend! 

I have a recipe that I normally use for my "no bakes", but couldn't find it.  So I tried a new recipe that I had seen on allrecipes.com .  I don't think I saved the recipe on there, so I can't link back to it, but they turned out good.  No bakes are always a fun little treat.  If you haven't ever been on "Allrecipes", you should check it out.  They have so many different recipes and ideas.
Also, I've been hanging out on Pinterest and keeping my eyes open for some gluten free recipes that would be easy to make and that look good.  You can see what I'm pinning up over there.
Here is one of the things, that I've found and it looks AMAZING!  Caramel cheesecake bites.  Need I say more...

I hope you all have a great weekend.  As crazy as this time of the year gets... it only comes but once a year.  Before we know it, it will be January!  Enjoy every moment of it.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Gluten Free

My love language is food.  I don't care that that isn't one of the love language choices... it's food.  Feed me good food and I will love you!  :)

So it was a very drastic decision on our part to decide to go gluten free.  We just started this new journey last Wednesday, and already we are seeing huge improvements in Gracie's health.  Tuesday night was the last night that she had a stomach ache before bed.  She normally has a stomach ache every single night, for what seems like the last year or so and we've never been able to figure out why.  The only time she wasn't feeling well this week was after eating food at the concession stand at the dance on Friday.  Other than that, we're not hearing any complaints.  I'm excited to see how this effects all of us.  

Gluten, I still love you. Even though you apparently make people irritable, fatigued, short, hyperactive, forgetful, depressed, anxious, sleepless, and almost dead.
Normally, it seems that everything I shouldn't eat, ends up being exactly what I want to eat.  The only thing that I'm having a hard time with right now, is that we are right in the middle of the holiday season.  I love me some cookies and baked goods.  We could have waited until the holidays were over.  But if this was going to help with upset belly's... we figured there was no time like the present.  I have picked up gluten free flour, so I'm going to try and find some fun recipes and experiment a little. 
"Don't despair over the food you can't have,remind yourself of all the good food that you can have."  See more at:http://www.thatdiary.com/ for more health and fitness tips+ lifestyle guide and more  #health #fitness

Dinners haven't been too bad.  We have had steak & salad, salmon and rice, a rotisserie chicken with rice, and tacos with the corn shells. 

Lunches for the kids, I've been packing deli meat, cheese, fruit, veggies and rice crackers or gluten free chips.  

Breakfast hasn't been too bad either, just more work than I normally had to do.  But they eat fruit, and we have found a couple gluten free cereals.  Otherwise I always offer to make eggs of any kind, gluten free bread and every couple of days we have bacon.

We are excited that popcorn is ok to eat.  We usually have that in the evening for a snack.  Also, we have gluten free chips that we love to eat with homemade salsa every once in a while.  Those are 2 of our favorite snacks right now.  Thankfully my kids also like most veggies, so that's easy as well.

All this to say, that we're not starving yet.  This is a huge adjustment for our family, but we are determined to try and make this work. 

If I get my hands on any good gluten free recipes, I'll be sure and post them on here.

P.S  Only 8 more days until Christmas Eve!   :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Weekend fun

We had an incredibly busy, but fun weekend!  Gracie had her first dance on Friday!  She had so much fun and looked beautiful.  She was on cloud 9 when she got home.  Dan picked her up, per her request, since I had dropped her off.  I think he loved it when she started listing off all the boys names, that she got to dance with.  Hahaha!  Truly, we are so happy for her though. 

Saturday we were wrapping presents, playing the longest game of Crazy 8 EVER, and then we busted out the game of sorry.  The kids had never played it before, so I had picked it up from Walmart last week when I was out of town.  They love it.  Well, they love it now, that they've learned to relax a little and not take it so personally when one of their siblings sends them back to start.  The first couple of games they played, I thought I was going to have to throw this game away, before a WWF wrestling match broke out on my living room floor.  Ha!
 Thankfully, they can all play the game and enjoy it now.
 They have even learned to handle a little smack talk from each other as well.
It's fun to play games and cards with the kids, because they are old enough now that we can play our best and try to beat them, which rarely happens.  Our youngest who is 7 is pretty lucky, and more times than not, ends up beating us all. 

Sunday, the kids had practice for their Christmas concert at Church.  Then we went to church, ate a quick lunch and headed to the bowling alley.  The kids all decided to sign up for bowling league this year.  I love it, because we don't have to travel!  Wahoo!!! 

When we got home, it was already around 3:00 and I was tired.  But Emma wasn't.  ;)  So we went over to Mom's and grabbed the horses and went for a ride out in front of the house.  We rode around and through the field.  Emma did great.  Usually someone leads her horse, or we've let her ride by herself in the corral, but yesterday she rode all by herself the whole time.  A friend of ours rode in front of her and I rode behind her.  But she did great.  At one point her horse started to work up into a slow trot, but she pulled him back and brought him back to a walk.  Inside I started to panic a bit, but she did so well. 

It is such a bittersweet thing to see these babies of mine growing up!

I hope you all had a great weekend as well! 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Decked out for Christmas

Eeek!  Christmas is just around the corner.  I still have presents to wrap and cookies to bake, but at least the house is all decorated.  I love this time of year.  I love all things cozy!  Sitting in my living room with the tree lit up, a book and a cup of coffee, or glass of wine, is about as cozy as it gets.  This year, we've even been pulling out the card table and have been sitting with the kids in front of the fireplace playing card games.

I bought the red and white plaid throw from Target this past weekend.  I love having little pops of red through out the house this time of year.

I changed up the entry way table a bit and am really liking it.  I found this lamp at Walmart and I think it's perfect.  The only thing I don't like is the cord.  What can I do to hide that cord?  

And again, the cord...  :(  Dan's Mom had gifted this advent village a couple of years ago, but I wasn't sure where to put them, so we hadn't used them until this year, and we are loving them.  I am awful at putting things in them for the kids, because the little spaces are so small, and I can't think of enough things to put in them.  So we're mostly just letting them sit for decoration.  #badmom ;)

Taylor our elf, has finally retired.  Last year was the first year that we did the "elf on the shelf."  Emma loved it, and we had sooo much fun.  This year, she has matured enough in her old age of 7, that she no longer believes.  :(

A couple of mornings ago, I forgot and didn't move Taylor, but when I got up, Emma was telling me that Taylor had made a snow angel in the sugar again.  I smiled, and then later asked Dan if he had moved Taylor.  He said no.  So I assumed it was Gracie and thought it was cute that she was old enough to help her Momma out.  I gave her a thank you look, patted her on the back and moved on.  Well, later that day, Emma finally cracked and said that she had moved Taylor, because I had forgotten to and that she got out the sugar and made it look like Taylor did it.  So she told me, I needed to make sure that I moved Taylor the next time so she wouldn't have to.  Which is when I informed her, that maybe she was too old for this game.  She seemed fine with that and ever since, Taylor just takes it easy, lounging around the house wherever someone moves her to.  

When my paternal Grandparents passed away a few years ago, we were given these neat Christmas ornaments with their names on them.  They are my favorite ornaments on the tree.  Now that my other Grandparents have passed away as well, I'm wanting to find a neat set of ornaments with their names on them as well. 

Every year when us girls go on our Christmas shopping trip.  My Christmas tradition is to bring home a new ornament for the kids to put on the Christmas tree.  This year, I found these neat ornaments with a letter on them for each of their names. 

Even though, they would prefer me to bring back a fun new toy or game... I'm hoping that eventually they will look over the new and old ornaments with fond memories, and stories told of "do you remember?" and talk of Christmas's past.