The Kids Behind the Blog | March 2017

kids behind the blog

We interrupt this #anniversaryweek for a little Kids Behind the Blog! It’s the second Wednesday of the month and time to check in with the other loves of my life: our big kids! Sadly, Harv has taken another turn for the worse and another long night and day is ahead. Send health and good vibes. So I’m jumping right in with the kids and their questions and then off for extra baby snuggles.

Want to read more? Check out February’s here and January’s here!

What’s at the end of a rainbow?

Carson: Whatever you were looking for.

Ava: Happiness.

Jack: A port-a-potty. Haha no. Nothing I guess.

 

What do you like to do when it rains?  Jump in puddles or play inside? 

Carson: Binge watch TV.

Ava: Play games & eat snacks.

Jack: Play on tablet or games & eat snacks.

If you found a leprechaun at the end of a rainbow what would you do? 

Carson: Threaten it until it gives us its gold.

Ava: Build it a tiny house and then live it, ok I’ll just live in it myself.

Jack: Force him to give us 50 million dollars.

Tell me three ways you know it is spring time.

Carson: The top YouTube videos are all about gardening, Harv eating dandelions, & everyone else scooters too.

Ava: No more winter coats! The grass is green again. Shorts are allowed at school.

Jack: The sun comes out and the weather gets warmer. We also go outside a lot.

Do you wear green on St. Patrick’s Day? What happens if you don’t wear green?

Carson: Try to!

Ava: I try to if I remember, but usually I forget and it gets awkward because I’m not and everyone else is.

Jack: No.

Wow kids just wow. Apparently not only do we need health vibes, but maybe some positivity, too!

First of all, the binge watching tv, the excessive tablet playing, and YouTube watching doesn’t happen at our house. We try to limit that stuff as much as possible! Carson did however, give up screen time for Lent so I think it’s getting to him, you know after the week it’s already been.

Ava and I are totally on the same Tiny House-Big Living page! Ha, hello HGTV and future kid blogger! I will not be inviting any leprechauns to mine, though. Also, the fact that spring means no winter coats is pretty fantastic! And… Carson is right, he will happily scooter in 10° windy weather, whereas the rest of us are still camping out in the warmth. Spring means company for him!

Lastly, we had a nice chat about the beauty of a rainbow and the value of money. Oh! And Caleb found a picture.. That should clear things up about Jack… I was not involved with that. Just so you know.

 

There you have it, a very um… interesting… kids behind the blog. Wish me luck, wish me luck.

 

What are you all doing to prepare for St. Patrick’s day?? Anything fun! Can’t wait to hear!

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5 Friday Favorites | 31

Friday Favorites Five on Friday

It’s Friday! Ok technically Thursday…but let’s pretend! I am (cross your fingers!) transferring my blog over this weekend to a new hosting set up and wanted this posted before the big change. I’m hoping it lessens the chaos and any potential hiccups! Wish me luck.

Until then, enjoy my (0nly 3….long week people) favorites!

one// Urban Halo – Limited Edition – Halo of the Month. I love Urban Halo headbands. You can read more here when I first discovered the lovely little MN company. I especially love this month’s limited edition for two reasons. The first is that it’s a gorgeous spring print! I’m loving all the colors. The second reason which is near and dear to my heart is that the proceeds of any sale goes to Miracle Flights.

Miracle flights is a non-profit company that provides free or reduced flights to low income families who need transportation for specialized care for their kiddos. As a Mom and Step-Mom of two rare condition/serious illness kids, I cannot imagine what we would do if we weren’t so blessed to have “our” hospital within a 30 mile drive. Seriously, such a scary thought. Hard enough to be worried about your baby, add in finances and it’s downright awful. I think this company is amazing.

Meaning – go buy a cute headband for yourself and know you’re doing great things for families in need!

This is not sponsored. Just loving it and wanted to share!

two// Black History Month Presentation. Ava has been working hard all of February on her Black History Month project. She chose to do the ‘A’ form of the project (no surprise there), which meant a poster, a slide show presentation, and an outfit to represent her person of choice. She decided on Coretta Scott King and her actual presentation was this week.

Black History Month

Thankfully it was early enough in the morning I could make it before work! With my new schedule this year, I’ve missed so much. Needless to say both of us were pretty happy I could go. Caleb, Jack, Harv and I all met her at school and had the chance to listen to her and her friend’s presentations! It was so fun and we are so proud!

three// Cub Scout Graduation. Carson graduated Cub Scouts this week. What a bittersweet moment, as any graduation ever is. The excitement of new and the letting go of the familiar. Getting older and letting go of the little boy-ness. I assure you he was feeling all of that on Tuesday. He is our feelings kid and it was in full force this week.

We are so proud of him, though, and so excited that he has decided to continue on with Boy Scouts and will be joining his new troop in just a few weeks. It was such a sweet ceremony of “crossing over the bridge” from child to man older child. (Let’s not acknowledge how old he’s actually getting please, thanks.)

There was also cupcakes. Cupcakes make everything better.

 

four & five // ok I guess I threw in 2 more because well they were so excited to watch Carson and I love that ♥

cub scouts

The warm weather is upon us again this weekend and I’ve embraced the spring! We don’t have lots going on at this moment, but that will change fast. Usually does. What about you? What are your favorites for the week? Big plans for the weekend?

In case you missed it! Here’s what I hit publish on this week! Thanks for hanging in there with me the last few weeks, you are all so amazing ♥

  • Monday, I talked about Jack’s heart camp & his wonderful weekend over President’s Day.
  • Thursday, I checked in for February’s goals & presented my ambitious (not ambitious) plans for March.

 

Linked to: // Christina // Katie // Andrea // Karli // Paula // Jerri //

Goals and Changes! 

First of all, for my new readers, welcome! So glad you’re here, it’s a great day to start! For my long lasting friends, you may have noticed my hiatus on Wednesday posting this month. I’d like to explain. Changes are coming! Be excited!

Although we were plagued with the flu AND some awful cold type thing, which I’m honestly typing on my cell while holding a semi sleeping completely restless babe, my quietness is not related. Send prayers and sleep vibes please!

I haven’t actually taken a hiatus at all! I’ve been working harder and more frequently with some big changes you’re going to start to see around here! But it’s all behind the scenes so yes it appears as though I’ve disappeared. I have not!

Let’s check out some of these changes:

  1. A more streamlined color scheme and theme. Ok the jury is still out on what it’ll be but I’ve been working on all the code to make some BIG changes. I’m bored (ha!). Let me rephrase that: I’m bored with my blog and I know it needs a facelift. (Too many kids, jobs, and chores to do to ever actually be bored.) I love color but I love black and white and I’m just not feeling what I’ve got going on. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure if I ever was really in love with it. Time to update and move forward.
  2. In connection to my new color scheme, my emails (and newsletter!) will be enhanced and actually acknowledge how awesome you followers are! I temporarily removed my email opt-in as I sort through details. Gasp! Big blogger no no. But I want to give you the best and I’m not just going to hound you for your email while I know I’m in transition. Really want to follow along?! Check out my Instagram or my Twitter feeds! Both which will be getting some serious upgrades in the future here, too.

That’s all I have for blog updates … at the moment. I do have a few more things coming up planned for the year BUT I’m all about baby steps and progress.

I’m ever so thankful to have you here and really can’t wait to share with you all that I have planned!

So my goals.

THIS is where I’ll admit the plague of illness got to us.

Ava’s room did get some love, but with me and Caleb both sick for a week+ total, add in the kids being sick, it was cyonara free time, hello bed time.

I’m hopeful with my spring break NOT lining up with the kids I can be full time mommy and let Caleb finish up all he needs in March. The calendar already speaks otherwise 🙁 We have been planning and prepping to attempt at utilizing the time as efficiently as possible.

Taxes are finished, submitted, accepted, and our refund check is in the bank already! We do have a small tax to pay to the good ole M-N but the refund will take care of that business. Balance right? That’s the key.  I also opted out of the budget making this month, with some solid justification.

I wanted to put my energy into blog changes and intend to use nap time & bed time during my spring break to update our family binder and emergency binder. It’s been entirely too long so I’ll do it all in one shot. Meaning I deliberately avoided waited on the financial piece of the family binder.

March goals are forming here! Can’t you see…

No date. A family date? That maybe counts. Still love my Valentine AND March is our anniversary month! I’m hopeful we can figure something out.

I’ve been making some itinerary changes and updates to lessen the cost of our trip. All our finances are almost 100% in order, so we did NOT order tickets yet but hang tight as I’ll be posting how we plan to pay for TWO big trips in one summer!

Lastly. I got Jack packed and ready for camp, but seeing as the clothes we packed are all MIA I’m going with a fail on this one.

Oi 0 for 4 on February’s goals. Wow.

So tally March Goals and this is what we’re looking at:

  1. Settle on a color scheme and design for the blog.
  2. Finish Ava’s room.
  3. Create time for an anniversary date.
  4. Create, update, and share our favorite family & emergency binder resources.

Sounds simple on paper.
What’s your month looking like? Think we’ll actually accomplish any of these this month?! Not going to lie, slightly embarrassed about such a February fail. March is ALMOST spring. Let’s tackle our goals together! What do you have going??

Jack’s First Time at Winter Camp

HLHS Camp

Jack was born with a heart defect, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome to be exact. Essentially he was born with only half of a functioning heart. I’m collecting all my thoughts, heartaches, hopes, and pictures and plan to share soon.

Anyway, there is a local non-profit that fundraises all year to send all the “heart kids” to camp, both in the winter and the summer. Yes, we help pay a small fee, but the majority has been provided as a donation. It is so amazing he gets to meet other heart kids like him, enjoy being a kid in a safe and medically staffed environment, and just be a kid!

He went to summer day camp last year; read more here.

This year was the first year, we all decided he (and mom) were ready for overnight camp. Winter camp is just 2 days and 2 nights and just a short jaunt from our house; I knew it would be the perfect test to see if he was ready for summer camp. Summer camp is 6 nights, 7 days, and a few hours from home. Thankfully almost everything went perfectly!

Like most camps, they provide a very detailed list of everything needed for the weekend. Jack was extra prepared, because that’s me for ya. My mom also volunteered to keep me company and help with Harv, just in case (it was a lot of driving and he still isn’t besties with that car seat yet). So Jack, Harvey, and I picked up my mom and headed out.

camp building HLHS

When we arrived Jack chatted with his nurse, we both answered some medical questions, then we brought his stuff to his bunk and off we went. It was so simple and I knew if I stayed any longer it wouldn’t have been good for either of us. He seemed ok, so off we went.

Jack HLHS Camp
We stayed long enough for one pic!…glad it was a good one!

Monday rolled around and I went to pick him up myself. Caleb was home with the other kids and we both decided it was just easiest if I went alone. My mom offered again to drive with, but we had things to do in the morning and I knew my timeline was squished enough already as it was.

It was a long quiet car ride. I ain’t complaining. That never happens.

I arrived a few minutes later than I wanted to, but still in the perfect arrival time window. After a few goodbyes, checking out with his nurse, and grabbing his belongings we were headed home.

The car ride back was anything BUT quiet. That boy was so excited to spill the beans on everything he did. It made my heart so happy!

He played gaga ball (still clueless what that is), basketball, arts and crafts, met sled dogs, ate all the camp food (apparently Caleb and I could use some pointers – insert eye roll), made tons of friends (With teenage girls! Say what?!) and says he can’t wait to go back.

There is also this sweet girl Elizabeth who has gone to day camp with Jack for 2 years now and attended Winter Camp. She is absolutely adorable and sweet and has the nicest Mom. I’ve tried to convince Jack they should be buddies, you know futuristic thinking on my part. He’s uninterested. Probably best…. for now.

They also sing the sweetest heart song all camp about having a heart deeper than people can see. You sure do little buddy, you sure do!

The only hiccup all weekend, was when we arrived back home and I asked him to clean out his duffle bag and put his dirty clothes in the laundry. He discovered his dirty clothes bag had gone missing! Yep lost, somewhere. We’ve contacted everyone we could and the.clothes.are.gone. My guess is the garbage by now. Ha. Next time I’ll remind him to put the bag BACK into the duffle at the end of camp. Could’ve been worse. Much much worse.

And for your viewing pleasure, a few pictures of him at camp taken by the camp staff:

Kids playing sports HLHS
Those are two doctors holding/supporting him and I cropped out the team of nurses in the background. Ha. Safest game of basketball ever.
Jack backpacking HLHS
He was acting as the pack was actually empty. Go figure.
Camp for kids with HLHS
Camp counselor (aka nurse) with Jack and bunk mate.

 

Do your kids do summer camp? Or any type of sleep away camp? Heck, do they return home from sleepovers with all their belongings!? Please tell me I’m not alone in that one.

5 Friday Favorites | 30

I apparently definitely and completely jinxed us Minnesotaners last week and I am oh so excited about it! Snow is a coming! This Mama is happy. The last few weeks of 60º has been the absolute best way to break up the long and usually dreary February, but I miss my winter. It’s back! I will attest that if every February had a few weeks of 60º, more people wouldn’t despise MN winters so much. Just saying Mother Nature. You did good this year. Real good. The rest of my favorites though? I’ve got a bunch of great ones today!

one// Linktr.ee Ok I almost hate to share this one. This is my absolute favorite thing I’ve fallen in love with lately! This one is for all my bloggers out there. Linktree is a website that connects to your Instagram to hold multiple links. Let my explain further.

You post the link provided from linktree into your Instagram profile, then when someone clicks on your link it takes them to the link tree sight where it holds as many links as you want or have manually listed already. The visitor can choose what link they want to read! I love it. It’s so simple and user friendly! Yes I realize, some readers prefer to have direct links, but I love they have full access to whatever they want to read!

Here’s a preview of what a visitor would see when accessing my link:

linktreepreview

I also love that you can customize it to a certain extent. I have mine fairly basic, but there are color schemes that you could coordinate with a blog scheme! The admin view and settings is super user friendly as well. Click the +Add New Button/Link. Create a title, copy and paste the link, and slide the button over so it highlights green on the right hand side. Done.

adminviewlinktree

Don’t like it? Trash it.

Want to rearrange the order to highlight a specific post on the top? Grab the black button with three dots on the left and move it around. Seriously so SIMPLE!

The absolute best part?! It’s free. Yep. It’s free. Which is why I hate to share it. As soon as it gets popular and enough users, I’m guessing they’ll start charging, as any smart company would. But for now? It’s free free free.

two// Electric Scooters. The big kids got electric scooters from my parents for a Christmas present. The last time they got scooters Caleb and I didn’t even know each other, so they were pretty old, decrepit, and honestly one was missing a wheel and another was missing a handle. So I’d say it was way overdue. When the kids opened them at Christmas, they were excited and not all at the same time, because well winter in MN isn’t really scooter appropriate. Into storage they went.

WELL…. with a 60 degree 5 day weekend, Caleb busted those babies out of storage, assembled and charged them! Then him and I decided it was necessary (you know for safety purposes) to test them in the basement. On the carpet. ONE of us did a burn out. AND wrecked the carpet. #guilty #oops

Anyway, the kids rode them everywhere and had a blast!

This girl is FEARLESS. Oi. She started on Dad style tricks real fast.

Harv also needed to be included.

Yes, that’s a baseball helmet (insert laughing till you cry emoji). It’s the only helmet we have that’s little enough and it was spur of the moment situation! He’ll get a real helmet for the spring. Promise. Any suggestions??

three// Gilmore Girls. Back in November, I talked about my reinstated obsession with Gilmore Girls. I had decided to re-watch the entire series in preparation for the new episodes. Well… 4 months later I finally finished the original series! Ha. Never would’ve guessed it would’ve taken me so stinkin long. But it did. Anyway I cried. Ha. It’s oh so good and the fact that some of the main characters have passed away or moved on, made the end so different than any other time I’ve watched it. I will be now be attempting to find time to binge on the new miniseries. I cannot wait! Wish me luck!

four// Busy Weekend! This past weekend was chocked full exciting things that were completely out of the ordinary. The biggest thing was Jack’s Heart Camp, which also dictated the rest of the weekend. Look for camp details next week!

With camp being in Wisconsin; Harvey, Jack, me and my Mom drove out there on Saturday to visit my Mom’s best friend who happens to live about 5 minutes from camp. She made us homemade chicken soup, chili, bread, and delicious toppings. Her and her family also entertained us to break up the long day of driving, before we headed over to drop Jack off at camp. It was perfect and oh so yummy! Thanks Elsie ♥

After getting Jack dropped off at camp, my Mom, Harvey, and I headed back for home. Thank goodness Harv fell asleep immediately and the rest of the car ride my Mom and I chatted. Thanks for the company Mom!

Over the weekend, Caleb was at work, Carson and Ava were at their Mom’s, and Jack was at camp. It was SO WEIRD! Harv and I took on the world and it was super nice. Having just one around was so easy. I forgot. Ha. Plus I get very little just Harv time. However, I definitely missed Jack like crazy. Again, so weird when my people aren’t together.

Harv and I filled up the weekend with visits to Dad’s work, church, extra long naps, lots of outside play time, and reading. It was awesome and helped make up for the missing Jack factor.

five// We love Chipotle’s food; we don’t love all the reports in the news the last few years of all the people getting sick. So Caleb scoured the internet years ago finding some recipes that rival Chipotle, which of course was a success. The downside is it’s literally a full day of cooking. The meat needs to cook in the slow cooker all day. Rice needs to be made. The fresh salsa needs to be made. Cheese needs to be grated. It is not for the faint of heart my friends. It isn’t on our rotation frequently for this reason. Thankfully Caleb put all 6 hours (not consecutive mind you) in of hard cooking labor just to appease my craving and it was oh.so.delicious. I was one happy mama!

Here’s the recipe for the meat, cilantro lime rice, and pico de gallo (skip the garlic). And FYI it’s a combo of white cheddar and monterey jack for the cheese.

 

We have a quiet weekend ahead and it looks like all that snow that was promised will be missing us, bummer. What is your weekend looking like? Any big plans?

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In case you missed it! Here’s the one and only post I managed (again!) to hit publish on this week:

Linked to: // Christina // Katie // Andrea // Karli // Paula // Jerri //

Coffee Dates | 3

It’s Monday and it’s time we had a chance to catch up. Grab and drink and stay a while, won’t you?

If we were having coffee, I’d dream about a non fat green tea latte (oh to bring back melon syrup!) and feel guilty with every sip I took. Oh that mom guilt. I try to limit and eat only the best as the baby still nurses, and I know caffeine is oh so bad. So I’ll opt for something decaf and free myself of the guilt.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask about you first. I feel like I talk so much about me, I want to know how you are. How is the spouse, do you have Valentine’s plans? The kids doing well? Are you all staying healthy? What’d you do this weekend? Please tell me, how are you really? Let’s skip the small talk and get right into it.

Me? Oh, thanks for asking!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that Caleb is good, in fact he just hit his 5 year anniversary at work and I’m so proud of him!  He earned a fancy plaque, a gift, and among other things his boss says he hopes he stays another 5 more. With all the turn over on his shift lately, it’s really reassuring to hear. Funny though too, he’s known his boss longer than me! Weird how that happens. But really, I know it’s not the easiest path or schedule he has but he does it for us and I love him for it.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that the kids are currently on my hit list. Not really, well maybe just a little. The boys have been sick all week and it finally caught me over the weekend and it’s.awful.stuff here. Spring can’t come soon enough. Boys, I love you but keep those germs to yourselves. Mama ain’t got time for that.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I finally feel semi put back together after this school year’s rough start. I’ve got my footings with all my new courses and their new curriculums, my work bestie returned from maternity leave (much to her dismay and my elation), and it helps that I know we’re closer to summer than not! #teacherscountdowntoo.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I’m jealous of all the snow New England got this past week. 52 in February is great for getting healthy boys who’ve been cooped up all week to get out of the house, but really this mama misses her snow. Sorry to all minnesotaners I just jinxed.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you we have all the presents ready for the kids for tomorrow. Valentines boxes and cards are ready for school and the kids are all excited! Caleb and I opted to not really participate this year. Carson has Boy Scouts (his first “test” meeting with his new den!) and I’d rather save our money for our trips. Yes, yes I know. It’s important to show your spouse you love them and we will, I promise! It just won’t be with gifts or dinner somewhere that’s too crowded and loud for our (apparently old people) liking. We’ll have dinner as a family and do something special alone later. I’ve had to convince Caleb many times I’m 100% ok with it.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that Jack is going away to camp soon and I’m getting really anxious. He’s never been away from home, besides my parents house (which we used to live at…so I’m not even sure that counts!) Its literally under 48 hours and a kind of test camp (so we know what to expect for the big summer camp) and it’s completely staffed with doctors and nurses. But I’m still nervous AND oh so excited for him. Trying to focus on the excitement. Dog sleds! Tubing! Adventure! Yea… pray for us, will you?

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’ve really been trying to be more intentional with my time with Caleb. Last week I opted out of blogging and work on Thursday night. Knowing it meant no post and an extra busy Friday. But when our nightly ritual of “what do you need to do tonight?” came up and I said “Nothing, let’s hang out” and the look of pure happiness spread across his face, I knew it was exactly what both of us needed. It was a perfect night of watching our favorite show, cuddling on the couch, and talking way too late and then not sleeping because someone (ahem, me – thanks boys!) was up all night coughing. Still worth it.

If we were having coffee, I’d apologize again for talking too much and taking all of your time. It was a good thing you went first this time 😉

But really how are you? Did you tell me everything that you needed? I’m a great listener, I swear.

 

 

Linking up with Erin @ ErinSalmonWrites

5 Friday Favorites | 28

It has been a rough tech week for me. Working online and writing a blog means I am 100% reliant on servers and the internet working properly. This week both were in cahoots against me. Sunday the blog went down (thank you to all those that alerted me and were so patient with me!). Thankfully it was only a short while and I lost nothing in the process. I probably would’ve cried. Then Tuesday, my actual job’s server went down for the day and I was rendered completely useless. It’s awful. I lost so many things. I did cry. It also only reaffirms – BACK YOUR FILES UP! Now! Do it. Then come back and read about my favorites for the week!

one// Pinewood Derby!

Last weekend Caleb and Carson headed to one of the last major Cub Scout events that Carson will ever do – the Pinewood Derby! With graduation from Webelos at the end of the month, he’ll be heading into Boy Scouts. Carson wanted a Ghostbusters Ecto 1 (or 1A – I honestly don’t even know anymore) car and with Caleb’s expertise handiwork and Carson’s creativity I was super impressed with the outcome!

pinewoodderbycar

Working with cars isn’t Carson’s deal, so Caleb and I were a little worried he wouldn’t have fun. Boy we were wrong. Although he didn’t invest as much time into the actual creation of the car, he was fully invested in the event! Before he left, Carson goes “Maybe I’ll win for the best design!”. Caleb and I did one of those Mom & Dad smile and nods – you know the one. The uh-huh kiddo whatever you say kind.

Once again, we were wrong! He earned a certificate for the best design/most creative! He was soo proud! And to top it off….. they even got third place! Caleb’s actual design of the car put them in Caleb’s perfect position (a trophy for Carson, but not fast enough to have to keep going into district and regional races, ha!). They both were so excited, they stopped by the house before bringing Carson back to his Mom’s so they could both show me the trophy and certificate!

trophy winning

trophyandcertificate

I know babies are wonderful and sweet and cute and just so squishy (we love you Bubba!), but man I’m kind of loving on this whole grown up kid thing too.

two// Wacky Hair Day!

Caleb is just killing it in the Dad department this week (not that I ever expect anything else from him), but it’s Carson and Ava’s spirit week at school and Ava wanted ‘something creative’. Dad did NOT disappoint!

Caleb found something similar to this on the good ole internet and recreated it for Ava.

Tada!

popbottlehair

Did you back up your files, yet? I’m telling you, don’t lose your stuff! 

three// Loaded Potato Soup!

I had been craving a big bowl of homemade soup and crusty bread last week. It had been a few chilly days and I was into trying out a new recipe. So I scanned pinterest and found this recipe and we were all pleasantly surprised! The kids all ate it happily (win!) and I devoured the carbs. #winterfood

loadedpotatosoup

We did change the recipe slightly though as I don’t like the bacon bits in the jar. I cooked up our own bacon and added that instead.

Ingredients

1 30oz. bag of frozen diced hash browns
1 32 oz box of chicken broth
1 can of cream of chicken soup (10 oz)
1 pkg. cream cheese (8 oz, not fat free)
3 oz bacon bits
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Add everything, but the cream cheese into the crockpot. Cook on low for 5 hours and then start to incorporate the chunks of the cream cheese slowly. I did the entire package in 4 separate pieces over a one and a half hour period.
Adding the whole 8 oz. at once will make the soup difficult to thicken up and get the creamy factor.

four// Aged Meat.

We (meaning Caleb) put a chunk of beef in a dish uncovered in our fridge for over a week. Hear me out, before you click that red X. We are NOT crazy  Ok we are, but not for this. Caleb learned a while back that most butchers, restaurants, and cooking shows age their meats for weeks uncovered in an “aging fridge” (yes that’s a thing, apparently a rich people thing, because we don’t have one). Anyway, He read lots about it and learned from the butcher what to do, so needless to say he wanted to try. I’ve learned that I don’t say no to his plans in the kitchen. So in the meat went.

It got weird looking. I know you know what I mean. The whole brown edges, getting kind of hard around the sides, the kind of meat you’d throw away or turn your head at in the grocery store. But this is exactly what Caleb was hoping for!

The aging was easy:

Stick in pan.

Put in fridge.

Done.

There was some prep involved before cooking. He had to cut away all the outside brown and think beef jerky textured meat. We weren’t going to eat that. You see where I’m going now? Then once the outside layer was all gone, we had this fresh cut of meat that was now “aged”. Then we prepped it like a normal roast and baked it in the oven. Slow and steady.

I know what you’re thinking again (because I had these same thoughts). We just lost half the meat. Yep that was a hard lesson. Buy bigger, because lots will get trimmed away and you will lose money. And no, it didn’t taste like the rest of the fridge and it all it’s weird ness from being uncovered.

So the outcome?! Well I wouldn’t be putting it as a favorite unless it was AMAZING! Seriously. So tender and juicy and the flavor was perfect. Caleb wins again for the week!

five// Gratitude.

This is going to stray further than I like to usually, but I can’t ignore it anymore either. Trust me, I’ve tried. Right now our world and our country is in great turmoil and distress and it’s awful. I’m not going to preach about what you should believe in or how you should be reacting or parenting through all the noise in the media. Only you know what is right and best for the little (or big!) people that you love.

My heart has been so heavy lately though and I’ve been trying to keep it from my kids. Yes, I know you may feel different, but right now mine are little and I want them to enjoy their childhood for as long as possible. But, my immense gratitude came when I watched my family giggling and laughing and dancing around the house on Wednesday and it hit me like a wall. I’m pretty damn lucky. I don’t have to worry about this or that. I don’t have to wonder if my kids will come home safely. I don’t have to worry about anyone of their safety.

I am blessed and that’s pretty amazing.

countyourblessings

 

You didn’t back your files up, did you? You rebel, you.

What are your favorites for the week? What has made you feel blessed this week? Where have you found gratitude in such a state of scary turmoil?

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In case you missed it. Here’s this week’s posts:

  • Monday, I talked about how we surprised the kids with a trip to FLORIDA and how we did it. PLUS there’s a free download! (Don’t need it now? Pin it for later!). Read it here. 
  • Tuesday, I checked in for January’s goals and I’ll be honest I was less than thrilled with my results. Check it out –> here. 
  • Wednesday, I set some new goals for February and took January’s flops with optimism and set out for some goal crushing! More here. 
  • Thursday, I shared 7 variations on the typical nacho in preparation for the BIG Game on Sunday! 

Linked to: // Christina // Katie // Heather // Andrea // Karli //

Setting February 2017 Goals

It’s February and I’m ready to tackle some new goals (and some repeat offenders…)!

Read about January’s goals here or here.

Just like every other month, it’s very full with activities and plans, but I know we can squeeze a few goals in there and work towards them as well!

one//Help Caleb finish Ava’s room.

Yep Caleb and I both agree this has.to.get.done. There’s really only a few things left, but making it a priority is the issue. We will succeed! Positive thinking helps I hear 😉

two//Organize finances, taxes, and make a budget.

As the last few documents we need should be rolling in shortly, I have no concern that our taxes won’t get completed this month!

The budget on the other hand… I’d love it to get done especially knowing we want to cut spending a little and add more towards our trip to Florida.

three//Book and complete vacation plans for at least one of the two vacations we have this summer.

We’ve double and triple checked everything, but we still haven’t quite clicked the Buy Tickets button on the computer. So wrapping up at least one of these so we can put our mind at ease and then turn on the countdown clock would be fantastic!

four//Pack and Prep Jack (and Mom!) for Winter Camp. 

Jack will be having his first night away (not with my sisters or parents) and it’s for TWO NIGHTS and over an hour away in the coming weeks here. Jack doesn’t seem phased…yet. Praying that still continues.

Mom on the other hand, well I think it’s setting in how grown up he’s getting 🙁

It will be soooo weird! The kids are at their Mom’s. Caleb will be at work. So it’ll just be me and Harv for two days. What am I going to do?! Sleep. Yea that’s a great goal! Anyway, there’s lots to pack and get forms etc.

 

I’ve tossed around a few other goals, but I also know that adding anymore just will mean that those first two will be further and further away from success, so I’m sticking with these (hoping a Valentine’s date may happen!).

What goals do you have for February? Are a Valentine’s day person? Lots aren’t and I get it, but others just LOVE it 😉 see what I did there? Can’t wait to hear what your month is looking like!

January Goals Update

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I decided to change things around this year a little and make goals for each month and a word to focus me through out the year. I’m not a resolution girl at all and I’m not really into exercising (blasphemy, I know! Wait.. does chasing a crazy toddler count? I could go pro.), and I’m also pretty sure my doctor would be concerned if I went on a diet, so I stuck with goals that were applicable and relevant to our family these days:

one//Help Caleb finish Ava’s room.

As previously mentioned there’s really only a few things to finish, and Caleb did make some progress (as in a ceiling in her closet!), but that is it. Round two set for February. Sorry love. I tried.

two//Organize finances, taxes, and make a budget.

We have everything mostly ready, just waiting a few documents still being mailed out. If it were in our complete control, I’d say this could be checked off. But since it’s not, the taxes are still not filed. Organized and ready? Yes! I don’t think that counts though.

As for the budget, nope still not on paper. Geez 0/2.

three//Prep and plan Jack’s 9th birthday party.

Check! Thankfully ha or I’d have one bummed out kiddo. We went snow tubing with a few of his buddies from school. It was low key and low stress – so, perfect! Read more here.

four//Go on a date. With Caleb of course!

Success! Two in a row! We were well overdue for a date, we’re talking almost 2+ months. The holidays get so busy and chaotic and family focused, we just never made time. Yep, I know. But we did last week and it was oh so nice! We re-hired (never really fired ha it was just a really long time) our babysitter and ran away for a dinner out. It was nice and relaxing and we got to eat without picking up food on the ground, messy hands touching our clothes, and full conversation with ZERO interruption. Ahhhmazing.

Our month was busy. If I was being honest with myself when I set my goals, I would’ve factored in the end of semester/beginning of a new one which consumed my free time and Pinewood Derby for Cub Scouts which consumed Caleb’s time.

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I have been doing really well with the idea of being intentional. I’ve started to slow down and really process my thoughts and actions and what I want them to convey to the people around me. I’ve made great strides in my positivity towards work, creating more time to spend with the kids, and even working hard to make sure I have free time at night to be with Caleb. With a big family heading in all sorts of directions; it’s easy to get lost in the chaos, but intentionally making time is what I want and strive for.

 

I also need to check in with our Holiday/Winter Bucket List. We like making our bucket list extend through the holidays since winter extends pretty much until May in MN. You think I’m kidding. I assure I am not. 3 or 4 years ago the kids had 3 snow days in May. Yep it was a rather disappointing Spring.

Anyway, there was just a few more things to check off the list!

This winter has been very mild so far, so our activities have been a little blah when it comes to outdoors. We went snow tubing for Jack’s birthday as mentioned above and the kids also took over the hill in our backyard for the few days of snow we have had. But other than that it’s been nothing.

Hot cocoa has definitely been taken advantage of though on the cold days and mornings! We never really watched many Christmas movies and I think the kids were ok with that. Sigh. They’re getting old.

All in all a wonderful holiday season and I’m holding out for more sledding and ice skating! Fingers crossed!

 

How was your month? Are you a goal setter? Did you crush them or maybe just scrape the surface (ahem…me!)?! If you have a system that you LOVE for your budget, I’d be all ears. Seriously. Sometimes Pinterest and Google are overwhelming!

5 Friday Favorites | 26

It’s been a great week around here. The end of semester for my job is upon us so usually that comes with good and bad (sometimes lots of bad), but the end of this semester has been pretty quiet. Maybe a little too quiet. Hmm. Anyway, it’s been awesome. I also made some intentional decisions to step back from things and just relax mentally and physically. Much needed! Plus add in an extra day off (Thanks MLK!) and I’m pretty sure I’ve decided 4 day work weeks should happen every week … or at least every other. I’d take that too!

one// Jack’s Birthday. Last week we celebrated, as a family, Jack’s birthday, but on Monday we picked up his friends and had a mini party. I let go of my extreme need for the party to be perfect and goodness it was the best decision ever. Y’all should try it. Anyway, I threw together some punch, ordered pizza, cut up some fruit and veggies, and Jack requested an ice cream sundae bar so the prep was nothing. Amazing.

Then we traveled to the nearest snow tubing hill and planned for Caleb to monitor all the big kids outside while I played with Harv in the chalet. However, apparently every other person in the tri-state area also agreed it was a perfect day to go snow tubing so the wait was AWFUL. Like 2 HOURS AWFUL. Poor kids.

Anyway, they managed to go down a few times and had a blast went they did. All in all it was a pretty great day for everyone.

Birthday Selfies

two// Paint & Pallet. On Saturday, some of my besties invited me to go to a painting night with them. Ok, I know what you’re thinking, another one of those paint and drink deals where you attempt to paint the same picture on a canvas. No. Think again. This was awesome. You are given 4 pieces of pallet style wood with two braces and you sand, stain, assemble (yep with power tools) and then paint using stencils. Everyone has a pre-made stencil to use so you get to do WHATEVER you want. It was so awesome. Plus all the ladies we went with brought appetizers and drinks and it was this amazing little hand party. If you live in MN, check it out here!

Our names & addresses were hidden for you know, safety purposes.

three// Rodan + Fields. Yes, I live under a rock. This is not news to anyone that follows along. I’m always a good 10 steps behind the rest of the world. I’m usually ok with this. However, I’ve been missing on some amazing products. First of all, I want to be clear, I do not sell the product and I was not compensated in anyway to talk about this, but it’s amazing and I want to share. A few weeks ago, we visited my old college roomie and her husband for dinner and she told me she sign up to be a consultant and gave me some free products to test out.

I finally had a chance to use them this week and I’ve been sold. My face is so smooth and soft! There are different types of products for the different things you may be hoping to fix (think spots, acne, dryness, etc). I also love their packaging. Seriously I’m a marketers dream, I fall for the shiny stuff all the time.

Aren’t they cute?!
So much clearer and smooth in just one use! Imagine how much better in a few weeks?!

Here is Tina’s info if you want to join or try out the products – you won’t regret it.

four// Vacation decisions have been made! I don’t want to say much more than this yet as we still need to cross our t’s and dot our i’s.. but we’ve been blessed enough from both our wonderful families and we will be heading to Florida and Aruba this summer! More details to come – seeing as I’m fanatically excited about all of this I promise you will probably be bored to death with all the news.

five// Door sign. For the past 3 years, our house has been bombarded a million times over with solicitors knocking at the door day in and day out. I finally lost it last summer when the little boys and I were playing outside and two strangers walked up the driveway and almost into the garage to sell me ant tablets for our yard. One was so persistent as to ask to call Caleb at work. Really?! At work. Um no. I was fed up. Within a few weeks I was at a craft show and saw a little wooden plaque from One or Two of a Kind and I knew it was fate. The daughter lives in MN and the Mother lives in Cape Coral (exactly where my MIL just moved), I was sold. I came home, Caleb gave me the drill and a screw and up I put it.

We have had absolutely NO ONE come to our door. It has been utterly amazing. Plus all the people we do want get a good chuckle from the sign. Win win!

 

We have another really full weekend, I really can’t wait till those winter blues and ho hum days kick in. We need it! Caleb’s cousin is getting married this weekend, so we’ll be busy with wedding stuff and I’m oh so excited! I love me a good wedding!

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In case you missed it. Here’s this week’s posts:

Linked to: // Christina // Katie // Heather // Andrea // Karli //

5 Friday Favorites | 25

Happy Friday the 13th! I’m not really superstitious, but if you are, then good luck today! Stay away from black cats and ladders. My Favorites are short and sweet this week. It’s been a crazy busy week and the weekend has lots going on I need to prep for! Plus I posted lots this week, check it out on the bottom.

one// Jack’s Birthday. We celebrated Jack’s birthday with just our immediate family on Wednesday. It was a super snowy day, which was exactly like he wished for! We celebrated with his perfect dinner of homemade fettuccine alfredo, steamed broccoli, strawberries, raspberries, garlic toast, and salted caramel brownies. A man knows what he wants I guess. 😉 However, I was a little bummed, it was the first time I didn’t decorate a cake for him. Oh well, a candle in a brownie was his wish and that’s what counts.

He is having a kid party over the weekend, so I’ll be preparing for that! Thankfully there’s only a few guests this year. Wish me luck! Tons more details next week.

two// Giveaway going on over on my Instagram page! I reviewed Bird Rock Baby moccasins this past week, and I get to giveaway one winner a pair of their own! Winner gets to pick out the style, color, and size. Even if you don’t have a little one, go enter! They’re a perfect baby shower present!

three// Chili and Cornbread. Monday it snowed all day, which meant the perfect night for a hot slow cooked dinner of chili and cornbread. I’ll admit the chili was not that good, so no recipe to pass along. In fact, Caleb made the absolute best chili we’ve ever eaten years ago and we lost the recipe so we’ve been testing out recipes ever since until we found something similar. Sad to report we are still looking, which doesn’t seem like a favorite at all ha! But the cornbread was. I’ve never had fresh homemade cornbread before. People I’ve been missing out. Warm, sweet, and buttery. Yum, yum, yum! Definitely will be going on the rotation. Plus super easy! Double batch though next time.

My sous chefs. Harv was so proud! And the love that he has for Daddy is pretty amazing <3

four// Harvey’s first time sledding! Caleb was the best Daddy ever. He was gone picking up Jack from school and while away, Carson and Ava decided they wanted to go sledding. Well this broke little Harv’s heart as he loves going outside and was completely fascinated with sledding. So I volunteered Caleb to be the one to deal with the cold and off they went. Harv was a happy little guy! Shoveling and sledding were a double thumbs up.

Don’t worry, he was actually holding on to Harv the whole time.

five// Date night. Caleb and I have trying to be more intentional (oh hey, word of the year) about our time spent together. So we’ve been working hard to get all our chores, responsibilities, etc finished as soon as possible so after bed time we can just be together. It blew up in our face on Wednesday, but last night was better. Here’s to more good nights!

 

Our weekend is plump full, plus bonus for an extra day off Monday! What are you up to over the  long weekend? Big plans or just hanging out? Would love to hear!

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In case you missed it. Here’s this week’s posts, there was lots! Happy reading!

 

Linked to: // Christina // Katie // Heather // Andrea // Karli //

The Kids Behind the Blog | January 2017

It’s January and time for a check in with the kiddos! I actually have two posts today, as it’s also Jack’s birthday! Go check out a letter to him on his big day here. But it’s also the second Wednesday of the month, so we’re checking in for The Kids Behind the Blog.

Each month I will ask my kiddos a handful of questions that the TKBTB hosts provide and then share those answers with us in a link-up post the second Wednesday of each month. Check out last month here!

 

Simple enough, right? Read on for their answers! First one for the year! New button and images from the hosts. I love little touches like that! Makes the New Year so much more exciting. Plus I have a soul that needs constant change. I’m working on contentment.

Question 1:// What’s your favorite thing to do or play inside?

Carson: My tablet. 

Ava: Make forts and inside the fort watch YouTube on my tablet.

Jack: Play legos or play on my tablet.

 

Question 2:// (We live in MN, we’ve seen snow. I assure you.) What’s your favorite snow activity?

Carson: Sledding! 

Ava: Snowboarding.

Jack: Build a fort.

 

Question 3:// What was your favorite Christmas gift you received?

Carson: Ecto Goggles from my Grandma. 

Ava: My computer from Mom.

Jack: Deep Sea Exploration Lego set from Grandpa and Grandma or the Bad Kitty book from Mom and Dad.

 

Question 4:// What’s your favorite winter vacation you’ve went on?

Carson: The one where it was longer than this. 

Ava: Going to Duluth.

Jack: Nothing we didn’t go on any. I’m serious.

 

Question 5:// What you rather live where it’s warm all year round or have the four seasons?

Carson: 4 seasons because you can cool down again after a hot summer. Plus hot cocoa isn’t good when it’s hot. 

Ava: 4 seasons, because I don’t like hot weather.

Jack: Warm all the time, like Florida. Or the the United Kingdom.

Ok sooo hmm how I feel about this. Apparently Caleb and I failed on Christmas gifts this year as nothing we got hit the top ha bummer. They’re all also unanimous that their tablet is their favorite indoor play thing. Oh screens, you double edge sword. To clarify, we have a mini hill in our backyard and a kids “learning” snowboard, so don’t get all excited thinking Ava is some little snowboarding prodigy. Does make me think we should get the kids on the slopes though! As for our winter vacations, Caleb and I don’t believe in pulling kids out of school so they consider winter vacation the holiday break which was super short this year. Ava and Carson do go each year to Duluth (about 2 hours North) to see Christmas lights with their Mom. Andddd I’m totally shocked about the 4 seasons. I’m totally a 4 seasons kind of person, but I would’ve bet anything each kid would’ve said hot hot hot!

I love checking in with the big kids each month. They’re all getting bigger and less interested each day to be in front of my camera and have family time. It’s hard but I still can wrangle them in for a few pics and updates here and there!

Happy Hump Day!

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psst.. I also have a giveaway going on for birdrockbaby moccasins, read more here!

Linked to:// Stephanie // Crystal // Beth // Meghan // Jess //

Happy 9th Birthday Jack!

My sweet boy,

You made me a Mom 9 years ago today and I’ll never forget that brief moment I got to hold you and my whole world stood still for just a minute, until the doctors and nurses rushed you away. I unintentionally took a trip down memory lane last week. I was looking for a photo to send someone, and I started with the photos the day you were born and just keep scrolling by, watching you grow and your life unfold in the thousands of pictures I have of you. So many amazing memories together and so many that sometimes I just want to forget happened, but no matter how hard I try I can’t, they’re who we are. Dad and I laughed at how similar Harv looks to you in so many! Wearing your hand-me-downs wasn’t helping the twin factor.

Ignore the really old really poor quality photo. My tech has changed.

You’re growing up so fast. It’s been hard on me. Real hard. This last year I feel like this giant bubble popped up between us. I don’t drop you off of pick you up from school anymore, my job and Harv got in the way of that. That extra hour of the day I lost has hit me hard. I miss you. I worry about you. Lots. I worry about your grades, your brain, your thinking, your school work, your heart, your soul. I live for the moments where we can play together and it’s not on your tablet and it’s just you and me.

I knew getting married would make our life better, you have a wonderful person to call Dad and two step siblings to call brother and sister. I knew having Harvey would give you so much in such a different way. But I also knew it would be hard, because it would change what once used to be our little family. Sometimes I think you feel it, but more so I know I do. None of it helps that you’re just plain old getting older and I’m not really on your radar as much. Minecraft, toys, and friends have taken over. I thought I still had time for this. I’m not ready!

I still want to give you everything and I feel like I fail you. It doesn’t help that what I think is best, is not what you think is best. So listen to me now.

I promise you:

School is important even if you want to be a YouTube-r.

The only way you get better is practice.

Closing your mouth when you chew is polite and a girl will thank me one day. (Thanks Nancy, just in case you ever said that to Caleb, too.)

Doing chores teaches you responsibility.

Doing your homework works your brain and teaches you to be accountable.

Manners and hard work will get you places.

Respecting authority is needed to be a decent person in society. There’s a time and a place to stand up to and for people, but right now it’s not me and Dad.

College is not an option. Not in this family.

Harv does and will love you with a tremendous love, but holding his hands and forcing him to love you now, well you’ll regret it in 5 years love. Give him space now, he’ll give you space then.

You’re still the most special and important and lovable Jack I know. I loved you first. I’ve always loved you. I always will. My heart will always just grow.

Nine is our year sweetie, I can feel it. You have big things coming and I’m going to be right there with you. Just like always.

I love you. We love you.

Happy birthday King Bob!

xoxo

Mom

 

Coffee Dates | 2

It’s Monday and the holidays are over and we’re heading into the long dreary stretch of winter. Pull up a coffee (if you’re having tea, please don’t tell me I’ll be too jealous!) and let’s chat.

If we were having a coffee date, I’d have a decaf white mocha not so hot and add caramel drizzle. I’m still not drinking lots of caffeine and decaf tea just doesn’t satisfy me. Plus I get stuck in coffee ruts.

If were having a coffee date, I’d start with a rant. It’s been eating at me for 24 hours now and I need to get if off my chest. Yesterday while we were at church, some older lady disciplined me and Harv. Yes, Harv is a handful, trust me I’m around him lots, but really!? I was attempting at you know actually praying at church, wrangling a crazy 1 year old, and trying to teach my other son respect and reverence and you have the nerve to tell me how to mother. To make matters worse, you turn to your friends whom you were chatting with (yes in the middle of the service) and state “mothers these days”. Excuse me?! Were you not a mother at some point. Ugh. If I’m really doing that poorly at my job, shouldn’t you offer help, maybe? Not a hand slap. Lots of people wonder why young people don’t attend church or services anymore, maybe we don’t feel very welcome. End Rant.

If we were having a coffee date, I’d confess and apologize for being off the grid. At least in my personal life. I stepped away from Facebook and so needed that break up to happen. The only thing I’m sorry about is the rude non rsvp-er over here (that’s me). Don’t get me started on Facebook invites anyway. I’m old school. Shoot me a text, I’d be happy to attend if I can!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how excited I am for the upcoming year. There are so many big things for us coming! Mainly I can’t wait to get away alone with Caleb. We still have no idea where, but it’ll happen and I can’t wait. We love being Mommy and Daddy, but being husband and wife is so important. Plus beaches and drinks. Mmmhmm.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask your thoughts on another baby. We constantly talk about how great and um well awful another would be. I really would love to be pregnant again, it’s such an amazing and blessed feeling. But we need sleep and sanity and money, too. Don’t be surprised if we have another. Don’t be surprised if we don’t.

If we were having coffee, I’d talk to you about this feeling I’ve been having. I really feel the need to give back more to others and to do good things for the world. I know I’m supposed to start at home, but I feel pushed for more. I just don’t know what, where, when (or let’s be honest how).

If we were having coffee, I’d talk to you about a few house changes I want to work on. I think I want to rearrange the kitchen shelves. We need to finish Ava’s room. And that bathroom should really get finished for all our sake.

If we were having coffee, I’d yammer on about those big kids of mine. Carson is graduating to Boy Scouts next month and He has his first band concert in a few weeks here! Ava is all about school, currently the fastest with all their multiplication and division facts and we’re gearing up for softball! I can’t wait to watch her play again. Jack’s turning 9 this week and his party is over the long weekend. He’s deciding whether to do track or baseball this spring. I’ll be honest I’m rooting for track, but time will tell. I love those kids 🙂

If we were having coffee, I’d keep it short. We’re extra busy this week and my job is bringing me down again. There’s so much to do and my time only stretches so far. I’ve given you all the extra time I can. Caleb says quit. He’ll get 2 jobs. I think he’s crazy but loving and supportive and always has my back. It balances I suppose 😉

If we were having coffee, I’d ask about your husband, your kids, your holidays. Is all well? Do you need help? I’m always here to chat, just seriously, please don’t bring tea.

Linking up with Erin

5 Friday Favorites | 24

Happy Friday! We thankfully are all on the health mend over here. Carson and Harv have just about finished all their meds and they both are back to themselves. Praise God! The first week of 2017 started out with a bang, but the rest has been pretty routine, school, work, and homework. Reality, right?!

one// New Year’s Eve. Caleb had to work and the kids were at their Mom’s this year, so it was pretty low key. Jack, Harv, and I went over to celebrate with my sister and nieces. My sister whipped up a bunch of delicious apps (some homemade, some Trader Joe’s)! Then we just hung out and let the kids play. It was so nice. I went to bed at a decent time and didn’t wake up hungover #imold However, at midnight somewhere in our vicinity (Caleb and I still have no idea where!) fireworks went off and woke us both up, which was perfect as I wished Caleb the first happy birthday and went back to bed. Ha. #reallyold

two// Caleb’s Birthday. Sunday was Caleb’s birthday! He will be the first to tell you that he doesn’t like his birthday. He doesn’t like the timing of it (I get it, it’s hard right after Christmas) and he isn’t one to like the spotlight on himself. I think I did ok this year of a good balance of making him celebrate my (as in all out!) and letting him hang out and relax. He even went out solo to wash the car and got a rest in while watching some football; although I blame the muscle relaxer he took on the nap ha. Anyway, the day was great. We went to church as a family, which is a rarity with our parenting schedule, came home and made his favorite meal ruebens! Then after Harv napped, we all went out bowling together and had pizza. We came home for lemon pie and presents. The lemon pie was a childhood favorite his Mom used to make and I secretly got the recipe for to surprise him. I think it turned out well; he enjoyed it which was the goal anyway! Happy Birthday love! Here’s to our next big 12 months together!

three// Pinky. Ok, this may seem awful on my part, but I need to express my utter joy on this. Pinky is a ginormous pink stuffed Gorilla that has been a member of Caleb’s family since before I was around and I disliked the thing with a passion. But it was a gift and Ava loved it and so I accepted it. Then Pinky got a hole in it and spread his little mini bean bag type seeds everywhere he went. So Pinky’s stuffing was working it’s way all over the lower level. After 3 years of Pinky, my dislikes have softened and so whatever, just vacuum a little more. They wore me down.

However, once we finished Ava’s room remodel, there was no space for Pinky and with him falling apart and now looking more like a bean pole than a plump gorilla, it was time to send Pinky on his way. So that wonderful husband of mine, toted the giant Gorilla out on top of our garbage can and sent him packing to the dump before the holidays and this Mama is happy. Also, none of the kids have noticed his disappearance. Win win.

In memory of Pinky:

No, he isn’t Tarzan. But yes he is little here!

Out he goes. Goodbye Pinky, nice knowing you buddy!
four// Blind Spot. Our favorite show has returned from it’s holiday break and we are thrilled to be watching again! Sadly, we still cannot watch it on the night it airs as it is sooo not child appropriate and 7:00pm doesn’t quite fit with our wide awake children. I’ve been contemplating signing up for Hulu. Any thoughts? We have an Apple TV which we love, but it takes a week for the episode to pop up in our list. So far it’s been just fine to wait, but just curious if other people use Hulu at all and if it’s worth the cost.

five// New Desk Calendar. I love shutterfly (no, not sponsored), and it’s no secret! I’ve been a loyal customer for 9+ years. They recently came out with a new easel calendar and I’m totally loving on! It’s stylish, trendy, and small. For a well used desk, I needed it small. I also love that it can be personalized with pictures. There is no space to write on the calendar, so it’s not used for planning purposes. But I love it either way! Plus I got mine for free, with a coupon, so that’s always a bonus!

I picked out the watercolor design, so pretty! Here’s all the months! I can’t wait to use this all year.

Want one of your own!? You can win one, all you have to do is write a comment! Winner will be chosen at random and notified via email and a response on their comment. Drawing will end on Sunday, January 8th at 8:00pm central time. Winner received a coupon code for 1 Shutterfly wall calendar or 1 easel calendar. Good luck and happy commenting! {Giveaway closed, winner will be notified shortly.}

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In case you missed it! Here’s this week’s posts:

Sunday, I wished Caleb a happy birthday.

Monday, I checked in for January’s goals.

Wednesday was an 18 month update on the Harv.

 

Linked to: // Christina // Katie // Heather // Andrea // Karli //

Harvey Update | 18 Months

Harvey hit the 18 month mark back in December, but well holidays…  and for the first time, Caleb took him to his appointment without me. We always made a deal that we’d both attend all of his appointments; however this one was sticky since it is the holidays and our doctor is on vacation (and I didn’t have more vacation) and I really didn’t want to put it off for weeks so alone he ventured. I was more upset than him. Ha. Caleb wasn’t distraught at all. Pretty sure he was pretty proud.

stats//

height = 33.25″ (80%)

weight = 24 lb 14 oz (61%)

head circumference = 19.75″ (99%)

Love our big headed baby!

 

size clothes = 18 months still fit, but 24 Months – 2T are the way to go.

12 teeth – top front 4/bottom front 4  & 4 molars (those were doozies)

favorites// 

food – he loves getting cheese sticks out of the fridge and saying “cheeeeeese” but only ever eats a bite and the rest is found somewhere around the house. Christmas candy – I’m putting him on a diet, cold turkey style. Taco meat. He loves pizza, noodles, yogurt, applesauce, and milk from a big boy cup.

toys – he wasn’t into toys before, but now since Christmas, he has tons of new ones and likes playing. He loves playing matchbox cars, this mini tool set with Daddy, his talking Scout Puppy from Santa (big winner!)

books – anything that anyone will read for him, but currently we read a hand me down train book and a open the flap truck book all the time.

being outside!

singing and dancing

Quite possibly my favorite pic ever (bummer it’s on my phone!)
playing with his big brothers and sister, seriously they are everything to him right now. he wants to be just like them. He loves playing legos, hide and seek with Ava’s stuffed animals, and he goes “pew pew” and runs around crazy when Jack fires his nerf gun. Oh to be the littlest sibling! 

christmas. he was way into the opening and the playing and the food.

dislikes//

diaper changes

getting dressed

having the gate up

not being next to mom

sleep (18 month regression was BIG with this one)

happenings//

Harv got strep over winter break. Seriously it was awful. No sleep, cranky, fevery, coughing and it all hit him so fast. How a baby his age even got it only Heaven knows, but it was not fun.

He is really turning into a terrible two kid. The tantrums are full on for everything! Caleb and I are relearning our patience and time out methods. Sadly, they aren’t working. Well the patience is ha just not the time outs. He’s still little.

He is learning to move furniture so he can reach things higher, like crawling across the kitchen table for example. Or the ottoman to climb over the gate. Also a stool in our bedroom to access Caleb’s (moved) hidden candy stash. He is absolutely determined candy still exists in the drawer and he is determined to get it. That kid.

Every time Harv and Caleb would go to the grocery store, there was a big Santa on display. The two of them would sit, stare, point, and Harv would say “Ho, Ho, Ho” the whole time. Caleb is such a good sport. Ha. Harv pretty much said “ho, ho, ho” all winter.

His vocabulary is finally expanding and quickly! I was a little worried for a while there, but he’s definitely picking it up and can say lots: mom, dad, more, ja, mine, tree, milk, baby, “b” (blankie), and a bunch of others here and there. He also loves to make animal noises.

His facial expressions are never ending! He says so much with those little eye brows of his!

His favorite Christmas present was socks. Yes, socks. It was sooo hilarious! He opened them up from Caleb’s sister and brother in law and was determined to wear them all… at once…. over his footie jammies. Seriously people I wish I had a picture it was perfect! Then he decided to keep switching out different pairs so he could see them all.

He upgraded car seats, a big boy chair at the table (so long high chair), and he’s actually sleeping more in his own crib! He’s getting older and bigger and giving us all the heart eyes. We love him so!

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Want more?! Check out my Insta, you know, for daily doses of Harv OR check out his 15 month update here!

New Year, New Plans 

The first Monday of the year! Whew we made it! I hope your New Year’s celebrations were fantastic! Winter break is over and it’s back to work to for me. Plus it’s Monday so you’d think it should be a bummer of a day, but rather I’m feeling optimistic, hopeful, and motivated to get life in motion!

The Christmas decorations were put away over the weekend, which I love just as much as putting them up. Something so nice about the empty clean feeling. It also gives me a chance to really clean, purge, rearrange furniture and find places for all that new stuff we collected.

As we head into 2017, there is so much to look forward to. I’ve decided to approach the year differently; to focus and be more purposed in the various aspects of my life. I’ve also decided that a year of goals is boring come December (ha!) and the long timeline doesn’t actually help ensure the goals are being met.

I know the year as a whole will bring good things for our family! We are working on making our way to Florida to visit Caleb’s Mom and Step-Dad. Caleb and I are planning  a non-kid vacation, which is panning out to be more and more difficult to decide where!  Carson will be finishing elementary school and heading to middle school in the fall! Jack will be attending his first overnight camp in the summer. Oh! And….Since I’m talking about family plans, I’d like to clarify that the big announcement from Friday is not (I repeat NOT!) a baby! Although I appreciate all the love, texts, emails etc. I assure you family and friends would know first!

I’m also thrilled of all the plans I have for our blog! There are some big changes and goals I’ve decided to pursue and focus in on this year. Lots of collaborations with friends and various companies. Seeing as I can’t survive in our house without rearranging some thing on a monthly basis, I’ve also decided to really look into designing a new layout and overall theme for the blog. That won’t take shape though (if at all!) till summer ….or beyond.

Like I said before though, long term goals are fantastic and keep people focused; however, it’s also easy to lose track and they aren’t always as attainable. I also really like the idea of a word of the year. Something that will endure the longevity of 2017.

The word I decided on is intentional.

I want everything I do to be intentional. I don’t want to just find time to do things that are of value; I want them to be front and center. I want our marriage to really take a fore front in our lives, even through the crazy baby raising stage. I want the actions I make with the kids be purposeful. Sometimes I feel like I’m just surviving each day to get to the next calendar appointment and I’m over that. I want to create that purpose with everything I do.

Ok so my new plan is to have 3-5 goals each month. To start it off, my January goals are:

  1. Help Caleb finish Ava’s room. There’s only a few things that really need to be completed, but for his sanity they need to be done. He does so much around here, that it is difficult to add in more, so do what I can to lighten his load.
  2. Organize finances, taxes, and make a budget. We mentally have a budget and mentally know where all our money goes to each and every paycheck, but I want it on paper and organized and start to be more intentional with our saving for those big trips (and Christmas!). As for taxes, we’re one of those people that prefer to have our taxes done and submitted as soon as possible (as in as close to January 11th as possible!). We’re pretty organized through out the year, so preparing our taxes isn’t much trouble and yes we do them ourselves!
  3. Prep and plan Jack’s 9th birthday party. Seeing as it’s under 3 weeks away and neither him or I have any thoughts, I better get on it!
  4. Go on a date. With Caleb of course!

 

What goals or resolutions have you made for the year? Are you into the whole idea of a word of the year? ? Check out Oxford’s list for the past for years to read more! Some are a little sad…

Oh also very curious are you “two thousand seventeen” or a “twenty seventeen” kind of person? I love knowing little tidbits like that! Have a fantastic first week of 2017!

Happy Birthday & Happy New Year!

I’ve written and rewritten this post a million times already. Nothing I say does justice to the feelings I have (and we have) for you.

This last week has been hard. Sick kids. No sleep. Guests. Travel. Holidays (they’re stressful man!). It all got to the best of us. But as I walked a cranky baby around, or cleaned the house for the millionth time it seemed, or sat on the kitchen floor crying, I still know you’re the best damn thing that’s ever happened to us 5 and without you, well our world just wouldn’t be the same.

You’re our:

nickname creator

tickle instigator

toy fixer (let’s be honest, it’s not just toys)

joke teller

medicine giver

finder of lost things

light bulb switcher

toothbrush flinger

builder

homework corrector

snack maker

provider

shoulder to cry on

laughter

made up story teller

grocery shopper

driver to and from school

peek a boo player

doctor appointment taker (so I don’t have to fess up to things..!)

everything

 

You are the absolute best husband and dad for us. We all think you’re perfect and we wouldn’t be us with you. No matter where this crazy life of ours takes us, up or down (please more ups than downs) I’ll choose you every day. Without a pause, without a doubt, in everything I do, you’re my rock and I’ll keep choosing you forever.

I can’t wait to celebrate your birthday with you! 2017 is going to be an amazing year and the only way to kick it off is celebrating you!

Happy birthday l♥ve! Let’s go party!

All my love forever,

Sam♥♥

 

 

 

pssst…. Happy New Year everyone! Have a wonderful start to 2017!

 

 

 

December & 2016 Goals Update!

I think I’m on repeat here, but how 2016 is already over is beyond me. I once heard the years go faster the older you get, well if that’s true I must be closing in on my mid life crisis here because warp speed everyone.

I literally remember the morning (New Years day 2016 to be exact) I started writing goals for the year. A very little Harv was in my arms sleeping, the rest of the family was still asleep, but I was wide awake so like any crazy person I started brainstorming all the things I wanted to achieve for the year.

Today there is so much to look back on! Goals, the year in review, and a much needed check in on our holiday bucket list!

I think I got tired of these. I have a new plan for this year! I’m pretty excited to share in the coming months! For now, I’ll give you the down and dirty version seeing as there is lots to share!

goal 1: be more positive with the children & encourage their growth.

The holidays are a pretty great time to focus in on the kiddos. So much going on in school! Concerts, field trips, parties, etc. Add in all the extra Christmas activities and the entire month was child centered.

I also just got a new container for table topics this week and printed off a new list of questions! Excited to add that back in over the next couple weeks. Sorry Caleb!

goal 2: be more creative and allow time for the projects we have and want to have.

I had big intentions of making lots of gifts for people and new Christmas decorations for the house, but somehow December 1st turned into December 23rd really fast and that didn’t happen. I will now be extra prepared for next Christmas though! #sliverlining

 goal 3: dates. more dates.

Hmm.. pass.

goal 4: finish grad school. 

Complete read here.

goal 5: document life more. it all goes so fast. 

I’m still working on photo books for each of the kids (still behind, too), but I also added in some video pieces I’m pretty excited to share soon!

goal 6: find and stick to a prayer schedule.

This is a continued effort and I keep adding in little pieces as I go, but definitely in the right direction!

 

I wanted to share one photo of the biggest moments this year for our year in review!

January was Jack’s 8th birthday! Which is just around the bend again! Better get party planning!

February I finally finished Harvey’s baby mobile and he still has it hanging to this day above his crib and I still absolutely love it!

March was our 2nd Anniversary! Still seems like such a small number, but we’re proud nonetheless!

April was a very busy month non-blog-wise and the only thing I posted about was being dairy free for Harv. Hmm well least he’s cute (and little!) here.

May I graduated with my Masters of Education. It was a long process and I am so thankful for the man behind the degree. Pretty sure his job was harder than mine on many many occasions.

June was Harvey’s first birthday! Love that crazy (emphasis on crazy) kiddo! It was a cactus themed fiesta, still my favorite ♥ (annnnddd ignore the unfinished door in the background.)

July was full of summer camps, Fourth of July parties, my birthday, and Kansas. So hard to choose, but I love this picture.

August Carson turned 11!

September was a month full of Blogtember Posts! Oi that was intense. Check them all out here!

October Ava turned 10!

November we did our family Christmas photos, see a bunch more here!

December was met with lots of excitement, but this tops out as my favorite picture! Although the Lumberjack Harv hanging ornaments over on my Insta is pretty dang cute too!

A year of pictures and posts oh my!

If you’re still reading, good for you! Let’s check in with the Holiday bucket list!

Seeing as I included non-Christmas things, there is still a few things to do over the next few months!

Read about Breakfast with Santa and ice skating with Santa here.

Read about Christmas lights, gingerbread houses, and one of our many hot cocoa dates here. I didn’t cross it off though, because well I want hot cocoa all winter!

Read about Christmas cookies here and fire truck Santa here!

We did get a few Christmas movies in, but I never feel like it’s enough! Ha. I mean they get enough screen time, trust me! But I love Christmas movies. Maybe there’s still time to sneak a few more in! And the rest of the stuff we can check off as winter continues!

 

There you go! Our year in review and goals for the year check in. Seriously, if you’re still reading I owe you a cookie or coffee or something 🙂

 

Happy New Years! Be safe, have fun, and I hope you have someone special to kiss tonight ♥ See you in 2017! (as in tomorrow..!)

 

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