Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Advent Calendar Brain Dump

Happy December all!  Hope this post finds you well and full of the joy this season brings.  So basically, it's time for a dump.  A big one.  You know I'm talking about a big ol' fatty brain dump, right?  What else?  Tee he he.  This here brain dump is all about advent calendars.  Enjoy!

When we got married, I remember thinking about how much fun it would be to celebrate advent when we had a little buddy of our own.  We do celebrate advent in honor of Christ’s birth…and in gratitude for the gift that He is to us, and this alone deserves our focus and attention…our spirits overwhelmed with joy.  But as a parent, there is also a gift…a joy…that comes in celebrating this time of year with a little one in the house.  It’s magical, and I don't know about you, but I think everyone enjoys a little magic this time of year.

It truly is a precious gift to enjoy this season with Cooper, and seeing his excitement for this time of year melts my heart a little more each day.  He is four, and I am doing my best to treat this time of year with perspective.  I pray he will truly understand why we celebrate Christmas more deeply each year, which will in turn help him understand and deepen his faith in Christ.  I pray that the yuck of this world will not overshadow the great gift of Christ in his heart.  I pray he will enjoy the sweet anticipation of Christmas time, and the love and closeness it brings.  I pray we will make memories that will last into adulthood and bring him smiles and giggles for a lifetime.

So when it finally did come time to create a celebration of advent in our house, I actually was a little overwhelmed.  It's kind of my personality...decisions and decisions...where there's lots of exciting choices...we aren't great friends.  I wanted to do them all.  Ha!  Time for a brain dump.

Of course, I am by no means an Advent Calendar expert (as if I even needed to make that statement), but because enough folks asked me, I thought I’d just spill it...all the little tidbits and thoughts running through my head in regard to advent calendars...for kicks and giggles and future reference really!  Please let me add disclaimer is as follows:  my brain is mush…total and complete mush as of lately...who am I kidding?!...ALL.THE.TIME.  So I’m dumping the ideas that have stuck with me…through the muck and mush that is my brain...all the while knowing I’m unintentionally leaving out a bunch of great stuff that I've seen or thought of in the past.  Seriously.  But what can ya do?!  I may end up coming back to this post often...adding some goodies here or there...if my mushy brain remembers.

So here goes...time for the dumping!  

A few Advent Calendars standouts in my mind...

Christmas Countdown Drawer Unit
There is no denying that there is something magical about opening a drawer to find a little treat or surprise…knowing it comes each day in anticipation of Christmas.  So fun to do for sweet treats, an activity card for the day, scripture card, all of the above…lots of ways to enjoy this.


Little Gift Box for Each Day
This might be my favorite.  This could be a large cubby/shelf/box/something with 25 different compartments filled with 25 cute little boxes wrapped up festively.  If 25 boxes are too hard to come by (or if space is limited or for any other reason), just find one awesome box, make it look special, and fill it each night with whatever you choose…treats, scripture, activity card, a little gift, or all of the above.  I don't think I'm into buying 25 pieces of junk for my son each year.  That's not what I'm getting at.  But I think that having something to open...that looks special and festive...creates a sense of fun and whimsy...anticipation and joy.  It doesn't matter what's inside the box/es...that's up to you and your family.  But little boxes begging to be opened...they sure are joy bringers.

Paper Chain Christmas Countdown
Some write scripture or activities on the back of each chain link, so that as the little buddies wake up and tear off a chain link, they find the surprise fun for the day.  Fun and easy...this little craft could be in addition to your advent activities or just something totally separate.

Ornament Advent Calendar
With this, each day you remove the ornament from the corresponding day and add it to the tree.  Some ornaments could correspond nicely with a special activity for the day…like a music note for caroling, nutcracker for going to the show, etc.  I also think it would be fun to hang daily scripture on the number cards, telling the story of Christmas in little chunks leading up to Christmas.  


Scripture Advent Calendar
Each day leading up to Christmas, you read a scripture pertaining to the Christmas story.  Love, love this.  That's what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.  This could be scripture cards or tags…open up a special box with scripture and gift/ornament inside…lots of different ways to celebrate the Christmas Story.  With Cooper, I'm aiming to break down the Christmas story in bigger chunks.  I really want him to understand.  Maybe the "12 Days" leading up to Christmas?  Not sure...still trying to nail this down.  I'd love to do an advent scripture reading each night with him...but I haven't started yet.  Hmmm...seeking lots of ideas and ways to do this...looking forward to getting started.  Here's one example.

Christmas Book Surprise Advent Calendar
In this tradition, 24 Christmas books are wrapped up and placed under the tree to be read each day leading up to Christmas.  Each day/night, you open a book and read it.  I imagine you could wrap them up with scripture tags or ornaments attached to hang on the tree as well if you'd like...adding to the excitement.  So fun.  Actually, I am a Christmas book lover!  Love, love, love.  I’ve collected Christmas books for years, so we read a couple Christmas books almost daily during this time.  So instead of enjoying Christmas books as a part of our advent activities, I like to keep a big basket of Christmas books out in the open, so we can grab and enjoy throughout the month.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Along with a “calendar,” this time of year offers so many fun activities to enjoy…as a family or with friends.  Really, the list is endless.  If you just do a Google search or scour Pinterest…ask friends…think about all the things you already enjoy doing this time of year...think about what your community offers…look into giving opportunities…boom…there are a million ideas.  The nice thing is, you can tailor the activities to suit the needs of your family...and keep a running list to pull from each year.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

In trying to keep things simple (for my own sanity and because my arthritis is flaring up lately...which can make ordinary days feel a little overwhelming), the following are our plans and activities for this year’s advent calendar (included in a little drawer unit written on a card accompanied by a treat and an occasional gift)…amongst a huge long list of options that I hope to add to and draw from each year.  I left a ton of crafts and little projects out this year, just because there were literally SO MANY, and it felt like I was trying to squeeze in too much.  MORE JOY, LESS STRESS.  I want to celebrate this time and not feel frantically crazy (although I already kind of do...oops!).  I figure...I'll plan a few activities and crafts...and then add some more in if and when we have the time and opportunity to do so.  Yay!  Also, this year I am writing each little activity card the night before...making things flexible for changing plans when needed.  Also, I keep a printed December calendar (started in November) on a clipboard...written in pencil with important information so as to keep track of things and easily glance ahead or mix things up a bit (without having to go through the whole drawer unit moving around cards...can you imagine?!).  Helps so much!

Here we go!!!

Cooper literally ran to our room and jumped on our bed the morning of December 1st.  He had been counting the sleeps until "advent calendar" time.  He was so excited!  Seriously, I thought maybe I slept through December and woke up Christmas morning...he was that excited.  I will never forget it.  Melted my exhausted and sleep deprived heart.  So worth it.  Each day, we've got something planned...some days more eventful than others.  All in good fun.

1. Get and decorate a tree…Special Gift: new Christmas/wintery pjs to enjoy all season long!


2. Make a wish list...Although we don’t really push the idea of Santa…Coop has seen enough from shows, the mall, songs, and the like that the idea of Santa has stuck…and he insisted on writing a letter TO SANTA.  I’m letting it go, and will do my best to treat Santa tenderly…just smiling while Coop is having fun with the idea.  Here is a previous post I wrote in regard to celebrating Santa as a Christian.  It still resonates with me big time.  At the same time...DEAR SANTA, PLEASE MAKE THAT THREE!  ON GUARD!!!  LOVE, COOPER'S MOMMY AND DADDY

3. Make Snowflakes...a bit of a this activity held Cooper's attention for all of about 2 minutes.  Ah well.  I had fun!

4. Shop for our church’s giving tree...Cooper had fun choosing the canned soups!  Still need to find a warm jacket for a young man and wrap up a pair of sparkly TOMS for a dear Mom's wish.

5. Bake Something Yummy:  Zucchini bread…special request from Coop as of lately.
6. Christmas Craft...Reindeer Craft (LAST YEAR)
7. Christmas movie and popcorn…The Grinch (LAST YEAR)
8. Family Christmas Party with Gmama and Poppy...Special Gift: Red pillowcases to make Coop’s room feel Christmasy
9. Shopping in the Samaritan’s Purse and World Vision catalogs (LAST YEAR, AND AGAIN LAST YEAR)…Coop already had some funds set aside and some ideas from earlier this fall.
10. Bake cookies (LAST YEAR)...Special Gift: Cool Hot Wheels Superman racecar
11. Read the legend of The Three Trees and make up an art project to go with it…still need to finalize this…just making this one up...need to choose which version of the legend to tell.  Hmmm...
12. Cookie Swap (LAST YEAR'S)…Special Gift:  New cookie plate
13. Drive around to see Christmas lights
14. Hot Chocolate and Christmas movie…The Polar Express (LAST YEAR)
15. Lunch at our favorite family restaurant…possible Christmas shopping as a family (LAST YEAR)
16.  Silly Christmas hate pictures (LAST YEAR)…Special Gift: Christmas book
17. Special cookie for dessert…Coop will need it after his 4 year Well Child Visit…shots!!!
18: Bring treats to neighbors (LAST YEAR)
19. Visit real reindeer…Special Gift: Fun socks
20. Special Christmas outing in Seattle with family
21. Dinner with friends and a Christmas show
22. Make Gingerbread Houses 
23. Venture to Nana and Papa’s for a slumber party (I’m assuming here)…Special Gift: New Christmas books from his preschool Scholastic order
24. Christmas Eve festivities…Special Gift:  New Christmas pjs (LAST YEAR)
25. Merry Christmas (LAST YEAR)
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Praying you and your family are enjoying this season with love, laughter, and hearts of gratitude.

Big hugs,

PS - Now I remember why I cut way back on blogging.  After typing up this post, I tried to get up and was all hunched over and stiff.  Eeeek!  Yuck!  Sitting at the computer is not a strength of mine as of lately.  Whew!  Guess I better get up and start moving!

PPS - I'm sure there are lots of typos and run on sentences and all sorts of whackadoodle things going on in this post.  I'm letting it go.  Feels good.  Hope you can sift through it to find something helpful!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Peek into the Week...and a Toilet Paper Roll Turkey

Hi everyone!  Happy Saturday to you!  Just thought it would be fun to share a quick peek into our week this morning.  Lots of laid back fun and a couple Thanksgiving/thankful related moments.  :)  

I thought I would start with our version of a plump and perky turkey...our spur of the moment craft that was too fun.  Have you ever read that book with your kiddos...The Plump and Perky Turkey?  It's pretty cute and a great lead in to crafting up some turkey fun.  Our plump and perky turkey was made from a toilet paper roll, as well as some other little details.  Piece of cake.  First, I rounded up some old scrapbook paper from my cardmaking days, traced a few leaf shapes, and had Coop help me cut them out.  I cut out the other paper details, and we glued on some eyeballs.  At first, I was bummed that I didn't have any googly eyes, but then we remembered that we had some edible eyeballs in our cupcake decorating stash.  Woo to the hoo!  We thought he turned out pretty cute, and might I say he even looks a little sassy sporting that leopard print tail feather.

Have you made any plump and perky turkeys lately?

Also, thanks to Jones Design Company, we started our thankful jar.  
Fun and beautiful way to count our blessings.

Made birthday dinner for the Hubbs.  With Coop and my arthritis, I don't cook like this very often anymore.  I tend to do fairly simple and veggie based dinners.  The Parmesan Chicken, Roasted Yams, and our version of the Canlis Salad were the bomb diggity.  We ended the night with homemade molten chocolate cake.  Boom.

And this is from Friday night.  It was awesome.  Coop has this big yellow truck we found at Goodwill  quite a while ago, and it has a great flatbed that works out nicely as a seat for him when he's up for a ride.  He was scooting around on it all over the downstairs while we began to tidy up after dinner.  All of a sudden, he put his bike helmet on like he meant business and turned our hallway into a racetrack.  The Hubbs and I each took stance at opposite ends of the hallway.  He would push Coop forward toward me with a good oooooomph, Coop would come flying at me with smiles and hysterical laughter, and then I would push Coop backwards toward him once again.  It was awesome...kind of like hallway pinball...a few crashes and all.  Giggles galore.  We couldn't have enjoyed ourselves more.  Great way to enjoy a Friday evening as a family.

Hoping you are all finding lots of reasons to be thankful!

Have a great weekend!
Big hugs,

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Painting Pumpkins

Looking Back:  Little buddy brought a pumpkin home from preschool the other day.  They had a Pumpkin Hunt...finding/choosing their very own pumpkin.  Coop was so excited.  From time to time, the kids get to hang out on the preschool property...running, jumping, exploring, searching, learning, playing.  In September, they all got to ride the tractor (well the trailer being pulled by the tractor) back to the property for a Teddy Bear Picnic.  So precious.

I suggested he paint his pumpkin, and he gladly agreed.  Love watching him with paint.  He's either highly interested or hardly amused.  This time he was highly interested.  He started with blue...and then green...then added a few others...then smeared them all together...and gave it a face...and amongst the many names he gave favorite was Rooster...for the red on the top of the stem.  

Then he crashed.  He wasn't feeling so well.  Coughing a bit here and there.

Before he fell asleep on the couch, it wasn't obvious that he was sick, so I thought some fresh air would do him well.  I offered to go outside with him.  For me, that was a huge offer.  He loves going outside to play.  Loves.  And I've been struggling with that lately.  The cold has come, my body is arthritic lately, and it's just more of a struggle to be outside than it was in the recent past.  I was sure he'd say yes, and shout for joy.  He didn't.  He said, "Oh Mommy, painting my pumpkin was such hard work.  I'm out of breath.  I just want to lay down."  Poor buddy, fell asleep within minutes...and has been a bit under the weather every since.

Not so much so that he is out of it completely.  Tonight we had some fun...silly, goofy time when Daddy got home, and we even threw in a couple dance moves with awesome music.  It was fun.  

Hope little buddy gets better this weekend.  We need to carve our Fred Meyer pumpkins.

Big hugs,

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pumpkin Patch Memories

We all ventured to the pumpkin patch to celebrate Mama's birthday.  Twas a fun day.  Brian had to work, but Little Bud and I had fun exploring all that they had to offer with Gmama and Poppy.  When more family members showed up, we rocked that place, and then headed home from exhaustion.  We didn't even get pumpkins because there were so many other things going on.  

Cooper rode a pig in the animal barn.  Even though the pig wasn't real, the stench that filled the air certainly was...and we survived.  Oh for the love of barn stench.  

And here we are...Mom, Dad, Cooper, and I.  We all jumped on the car ride...after standing in line for quite some time.  It was a legit line.  Kind of Disneyland type line going on. a pumpkin patch.  Once we jumped on the ride, total kick in the pants.  You can't see the car, but it was awesome and old timey and just awesome...and it was being pulled along a track.  We had no control of the car.  It seemed very obvious.  But Coop seriously thought he was driving.  Seriousness and joy in his face.  Loved it.  We were laughing...more like snorting.  Just amazeballs.  

And here's my little pumpkin...surrounded by lots of pumpkins.  We should have grabbed some of those bad boys...the pumpkins that were all piled up in a big open area for people that didn't want to brave the hay ride and tromping through the pumpkin patch, but even that felt impossible.  Not to worry...Coop suggested Fred Meyer in the next couple days...and we got pumpkins there.  First time in a long time we've gotten pumpkins at the grocery store.  They look just like the pumpkins in this picture...and why wouldn't they?  We're excited to carve them.

Happy Birthday Mama!  Love you so much.  You are a rock for our family...part of the foundation from which we stand firmly in love.  Thank you for loving us with every bit of yourself.  Here's to another year of fun!

Love and hugs,

Friday, October 26, 2012

Snapshots from A Rainy Today

My favorite chai tea.  It makes a rainy day better.

So does cake.  Even if it comes from a box.  And Superman...meaning pajamas all day.  
It does a soul good.

And a little hope.  Sticking a few colorful paper leaves and a scripture into the packages we are sending
to our World Vision friends...Masefu, Yeferson, and Daniel.  It's about time we send them something.

Operation Get it In the Mail commences.  :)

Happy Friday!

My Little Buddy Started Preschool!!!

Hi everybody!!!  My little buddy is in preschool.  Crazy.  Seriously crazy.  How did that happen???  He sure loves it.  Truly loves it.  Every day I pick him up and ask how his morning was.  He always responds with, "Great.  It was super great Mom."  My heart literally flutters to know he is having so much fun while there.  He needed it.  I needed it.  It was time.  He is so curious, intelligent, kind, and ready.  I was hesitant for a while, but he was ready.  It has been a joy to experience this adventure as his Mom.  

Our morning routine (just for the sake of remembering and looking back) looks like this...

Wake Up:  I set my alarm and begin getting ready...he either comes to snuggle in my bed while I finish or sleeps until I wake him up.  Sometimes cartoons are involved.

Pit Stop:  Go potty, get dressed, brush teeth.  (Sometimes we make it downstairs in pjs and brush teeth after breakfast...just depends on the morning.  He always comes up with a plan that sounds reasonable to me.)

Breakfast:  Toast with peanut butter, cinnamon toast, cereal, muffins, waffles, yogurt, bananas, orange juice, milk...just some of our go tos.

Little Details...leader today?  Snacks to bring?  Show and tell?  Coat?  Boots kind of day?  Anything for the car ride to school?  Any bills to mail on our way?  I forgot Show and Tell one day (already...and it's only October...oy yoy yoy) heart melted...and I hustled so fast to bring him something...making it just in time.  So relieved.  He said, "Thanks Mom.  Just so you know for next time, Miss Susan said if we don't have something to show, we can always Tell the class about something.  That's what Show and Tell is Mom."  Oh goodness.  Precious.  He is wise beyond his years I tell ya.

Daily Picture Session

Okay, yes, we have a picture session each preschool morning.  Before we head to school, we literally take two minutes to do a little photo session outside our front door.  I did this on the first day of school, and then it just seemed natural to continue.  I think I'm going to make a photo book for him...adding to it each month...kind of a fun memory of the year.  I'd also like to add to it pictures that his teacher takes and posts for parents on Shutterfly.  I feel like this is my chance to have a do-over.  Yes, a do-over.

I always stunk at being consistent about photo sessions when he was a babe.  My plan was to do newborn, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 1 year old.  That did not happen, and for quite some time, I felt horrible about that.  Every other Mom seemed to pull themselves together for this, what was wrong with me?  I ended up improvising and doing most of those photo sessions at home without appropriate backdrops and props.  Totally fun, and it was good enough...and after feeling bad about that for long enough, I realized that there is nothing wrong with good enough.  At any rate, we are all about the random fun in every day, and these morning picture sessions were easy and a fun way to capture that fun without putting pressure on myself or setting myself up for failure.  

Literally, two minutes tops.  It's a part of our routine.  Easy cheesy.

And he.  Cracks.  Me.  Up.

Okay enough Mom, let's go.

I told him to grab a leaf, and he grabbed the lone green/brown one that was rotting and looking all dried up.  Not the pretty red ones, not the yellow and orange ones.  But this leaf.  Then he posed with it, and convinced me that it was the best leaf amongst them all.  It was precious.

On this day, we had Uganda (and our newest nephew) on our minds.
Optimus Prime also decided to join us for the ride to preschool.

Sometimes I get in the pictures too.  I'd like to exist in pictures someday in looking back.  I want to remember how much fun I had with my buddy.  I want to remember that I enjoyed being a Mom, that I truly loved it, and that it was the time of my life.

On our drive to school, we see turkeys, horses, cows, lamas, and lots of beautiful farmland.  The trees are gorgeous right now, and we've been hitting patches of construction...talking about what the different construction signs say and practicing patience as we wait for the red STOP sign that the folks are holding to turn to an orange SLOW sign.  In thinking about it, I was a bit worried to have a longer ride to school (20 minutes give or take), but it has turned into the joy of my morning, along with an awesome opportunity to listen to my Bible study materials through Audible as I make my way back home.

Alright, I think that's it.  Tootaloo for now.  I might post some more...I have a moment...and I miss it...and it's easy to email pictures into a draft post with my iPhone.  Yay for an iPhone...although I probably use it too much.  I now can take better pictures...because my husband got the newest version of the iPhone...and I got his old version...which was a newer version for me.  I feel lucky to have a phone at all I guess.  It's just neat.

And, you are probably thinking, "Who are you?" because you haven't seen me posting consistently for like, ever.  Sorry for that.  Let me introduce myself again.  Hiya.  I'm Holly.  I like to post about lots of reasons I shout and sing, "Hallelujah!"  Sometimes I am able to post a lot.  Sometimes I am not.  It happens.  Life is full.  Lots of ups and downs.  So thankful for every moment.  Hope you can find lots of reasons to be thankful too!  Thanks for sticking around.

And super big thanks to those of you that have checked in off and on and offered me encouragement during what seems to have been a bloggy break for me.  You are the sweetest of sweets.  Sometimes without you even knowing it, you offered a sweet little note of encouragement/kindness just when I needed it most.  You made my heart smile.  You were/are genuine and thoughtful.  I think you know who you are, and I just wanted to say thank you!

Cheers!  Blessings to you all!

Big hugs and love,

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sudden downpour

Sometimes when the sun has left us, 
and the rain reappears out of nowhere,
all there is to do...really...
is put on your super hero goggles...

...and go peek outside.
No shame in running back in within seconds of course.

It's the little things in life.
Amongst the hardships and craziness of life
that we sometimes are forced to endure...
it's the simple joys that make life magical.

Saying Farewell to the Sun...

Summer memories with my buddy.
We were so thankful for all the sun we were able to enjoy.
It seemed to last forever this year.
What a treat.
Running.  Playing.  Bike riding.  Sidewalk Chalk.
Bubbles.  Walks to the park.  Superhero adventures.
Stopping at the park nearly every day after preschool.
Racing down the sidewalk as he waved goodbye
to family and friends that have come to visit.
Getting new floors downstairs.  Hallelujah.
Family vacations and get togethers.  Neighborhood potlucks.
It was a good one.

It seems like we've finally seen the end of it.
So thankful that I've had a little buddy to share it with this summer.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Deep Sorrow and the Greatest of Joys


My buddy and I on a train ride in Fargo recently.
Yes, Fargo.  Yeah, sure, you betcha.

Hi's been forever since I've blogged.  Or at least it seems that way.  Life has been full.  This week has been especially full...with deep sorrow of losing a family member to cancer (way too young with a beautiful family) and lots of other joy and surprises and answers to prayer.  I pray the good stuff will play out sweetly...only time will tell.

Just the other day, I wrote as my facebook status...

Trying to soak in the beauty of today. There is joy in every little moment.  It's actually amazing how the deepest sorrow can coincide with the greatest of joys.  I am overwhelmed. Thankful for the hope and promise we have in Jesus Christ and the blessings of today.

So much to ponder this week.

I pray wherever you are, there is a peace and comfort in your heart from the One who gives it so freely.

Big hugs tonight,


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy Father's Day...We love you!

So thankful for the awesome Dads in our lives. 


To my partner in life.  I am forever grateful for your unconditional love, and so excited to spend my life with you.  Watching you with Cooper fills the spot in my heart that I had always dreamed of filling with endless joy.  You know... it's that spot that you save for the man of your dreams and the father you hope he will become.  Happy Father's Day to my friend and love.  You're the bomb diggity.

And to my dearest Dad.  The most loving Poppy to our precious Cooper.  A shining example of sacrifice, love, friendship, honor, consistency, wisdom, dedication, responsibility, and faith.  You will always be our Superhero and MacGuyver...aren't we lucky ducks?!  There really are no words.  I will be forever thanking God for the Dad I was blessed with and the influence you've provided.  Love you so much.  

Also sending a big Father's Day shout out to Papa Jeff!  We love you dearly.  So thankful for the life you worked so hard to provide for your son, and the hand you had in raising him to be the man that he is today.  We love you too!

And let me end with this.  I am completely aware that some folks don't have quite the same experience I have with a father in their life.  I can't say I know what you're thinking and feeling, but I can say that I am encouraged by your strength and perseverance.  No matter what your family dynamic, I encourage you to seek and let in your father in Heaven.  He knows your name, and He loves you dearly.  You are precious in his sight, and He wants what is best for you.  

I pray this song is an encouragement to you and a beautiful reminder that you are loved.
Have a listen.

He Knows My Name by Paul Baloche

Have a beautiful day!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY and I'm Letting Go by Francesca Battistelli

Just in case there is still even one of you out there that might care to read a HALLELUJAH (Hi Mom!), thought I would come out of my bloggy break for a little celebration of Moms!  Totally worth it...if even just a quick little post!  (FYizzle, life around here has been full and filled with crazy fun, arthritis ouchies, babysitting, playing in the sun, eating more vegetarian like, helping Coop practice his letters, visiting preschool, singing at church, playing superheros and nerf guns, and hardly having a moment to sit at the computer...even to write my dearest Julie Poo in Germany...and sausage fingers can only write so much on my phone for Pete's sake.  Woo!  Hence, the bloggy break as of late.  But looking ahead, I might get a laptop in the next few months, which could be huge for bigtime maybe blogging will make a comeback...for all of you who still might want to read some HALLELUJAHS...again...Hi Mom!)

Today I am shouting out a big ol' fatty HALLELUJAH for my Mama!  I love you Mom, and I'm so thankful that I grew up to find out that not only did I have a Mom to thank God for every day, but a dear friend that I couldn't imagine being without.  Thank you for your love, friendship, and such a special example of being a sacrificial, loving, intentional, and responsible Mama.  All that you've given in mothering us is cherished and will live in us forever.

And to Kathy, dear mother gained in marrying my love (score double for me!), thank you for loving your son as a loving and gracious Mama.  I am so thankful for the man you raised, and for the woman that you are.  Thank you for loving me as one of your own.  I'm so thankful for your love and support, and the beautiful example of mothering you have also set.

Cooper is so stinkin' blessed to have a G-Mama and Nana who love him so.  What a special gift!

I am incredibly thankful for these two dudes.  They both helped make me a Mama, and it has been the best gift I have ever received.  I couldn't imagine a life that didn't include being Mommy to my little Super Buddy.  He is literally the greatest physical joy and blessing that God has blessed our lives with in becoming a family.  He fills my days with childhood joy.  I treasure it.

Here's to hoping you are able to celebrate today and feel the love and joy in your soul that only God can give you.  I am finding more and more, that if I try to live in my own own plans, my own focus, my own wants and desires...the more peace comes in letting go and handing it to Him.

Find JOY today, wherever you are.  Let it sink in.

...even if the huge clock that is supposed to hang above the secretary desk (behind me in the picture below...above that orchid) fell off it's hook and bigtime shattered all over the top of that secretary desk, as well as the kitchen floor.  Seriously.  Life goes on.  It's good stuff.  Thankful it's not about all our broken stuff...and our broken issues...but rather the hope we have in Him...even in our brokenness.

Random I know, but true story.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there...especially those that are hopeful Mamas.  I'm praying for you and with you...praying God would plant a sweet little miracle in me too!

Have a listen...

I'M LETTING GO by Francesca Battistelli
from the album My Paper Heart

All my love and big bloggy hugs,


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lovely Meal Ideas...In Case You Didn't See This Last Year...

Happy Valentine's Day all you fabulous folks!  I haven't been blogging much lately.  I miss ya!  Lots of life happening, along with going off my arthritis medicine and finding out that my arthritis is still hanging out in my joints.  Shoot.  Trying to take things one day at a time.

Feeling like I should post something, I did remember putting together some great Valentine's Day posts last year.  Hopefully better late than never for ya, I thought I would post one from last year with some fun meal ideas.  Staying in?  Need any inspiration?  Take a look at all these fun things...see if there isn't something that calls your name!

Sending you my biggest hugs.  We'll be headed to the Food Bank to volunteer as a family.  Usually I go on my own, but the Mr. and the Coopster are going to come with me.  We thought it would be fun to serve as a family in celebration of this day.  Hoping for some heart shaped waffles in the morning, inhaling some of the sugar cookies Coop and I decorated (similar to last year), having a simple dinner as a fam, and basically just enjoying the day with my little buddy.  Hope you all find a beautiful way to celebrate.

So here ya go...Lovely Valentine Meal post from last year.  Go for it!


Alright, so today I'm do you fuel up and start your day on the 14th?  Maybe some heart shaped waffles?  That's what we usually like to do.  You can click any of these items to get some specifics on the products.  Aren't they fun?  I think they'd make Valentine's Day just a bit more special for sure.  I can personally vouch for the Snoqualmie Falls Pancake and Waffle Mix.  We wouldn't use anything else...well except for homemade!

Snoqualmie Falls Nutra Rich Pancake Mix, 24-Ounce (Pack of 4)  Chef's Choice 830 WafflePro Heart Waffle IronRibbed Batter Bowl - Red
DII Flame Red and White Checkers Napkin Set of 4 Waechtersbach Fun Factory Dinner Plates, Cherry, Set of 4Pearls Stemless Red Wine Set of 4

Do you have any special plans for dinner this year?  Lunch?  Take out?  Dine in?  Fancy restaurant?  Your favorite hole in the wall?  Meal with the whole family?  How do you celebrate?  I'd sure love to hear...

Found a few more inspirations for your Love Day meals.   I haven't had much opportunity to enjoy cooking lately due to my arthritis being a terdy bird, but all these recipes from some fabulous folks sure inspire me to give it a go as soon as my body allows!  Hope you find something here that makes your mouth water!  You'll find a little inspiration for ambiance, drinks, appetizers, and main dishes.  Enjoy!

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A Little Ambiance
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When you are setting the table, don't forget the flowers.
Whether you get them from your sweetie or find some for your self,
they always make the day feel more special!

Image #120406

And a few candles sure seem to set the mood and create a cozy atmosphere.

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Refreshments Served in Style
What is your beverage of choice?  We love to do a little mixing.
We've got nothing against alcohol, our taste buds just don't seem to fancy it.
Same goes with coffee.  I know, right?!  Bummer for us.  
But there are plenty of alternatives.  Here are a couple of our favorites.
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Bubbly Raspberry Lemonade
Product Image    Meyer Lemon Comsumer Pack7-UP 12oz. Glass bottle 24ct.

Minute Maid Raspberry Lemonade
Freshly Cut Lemon Slices
A Little Bit of Bubbly...7-UP
This makes a sweet and refreshing, bubbly lemonade.  Pink to boot!

Pomegranate Spritzer

Pomegranate Juice 6 X 16 Ounce Case        Canada Dry Ginger Ale, 12 oz Can (Pack of 24)
Pomegranate Juice
Bubbly Factor...Ginger Ale
Beautiful red color, tangy fruit flavor with a mildly sweet fizz.

Sparkling Apple Cider
Of course it's Martinelli's!

Martinelli, Juice Sprklng Cider, 250 ML (Pack of 12)

A new one to try...

Pomegranate Citrus Juice

Pomegranate-Citrus Juice

How do you like to serve your refreshments?

Aren't these carafes/pitchers sleek and beautiful.  I found a mini
version at Value Village a while back.  Maybe I'll bust that out!

BonJour French Press Replacement Glass Carafe 8-Cup Universal Design

Drink Me Tag with Ribbon
Love this.


Need some goblets?  We use these as our every day glasses, 
and they seem to make every day and every meal feel special.  

Libbey 12-Piece Goblet Party Set  

These are always fun.  Stemless wine glasses...
with a very affordable price tag.

Libbey Vina Stemless 17-Ounce White Wine Glasses, Set of 4

Whatever you serve your refreshments in...
take a moment to make them feel special!

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For Starters...
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Goat Cheese and Fig Jam
Best served with water crackers.  For presentation, drizzle fig jam over
goat cheese log and surround with crackers.  Lovely and delicious!


Stuffed Mushrooms
Don't these look elegant and delicious!

Stuffed with Brie

Stuffed with Sausage, Onions, and Cheese
Stuffed Mushrooms

Savory Greens, Tomatoes, and Goat Cheese Tarts
This makes my mouth water!

Arugula, Tomato & Goat Cheese Tart

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Fill Me Up Buttercup
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Pantry Pasta for Two
Easy but looks so divine.

Down Home Spaghetti and Meatballs
All time favorite...would be perfect for a family dinner.


Simple Roast Chicken and Vegetables
Beautiful and delicious...table for two or for the whole family!


Grilled Chicken Under A Brick

Grilled Chicken Under a Brick

Chicken Marsala


Pan Fried Ribeye Steak with Roasted 
Garlic and Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Although I've never met Ree Drummond, I sure trust her recipes.
Every meal always looks so rustic and beautiful.  Can't beat it!

valentines day 143

Ina's Beef Bourguignon
So incredibly delicious.  I've had it and can't wait to make it myself!


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Buttered Rosemary Rolls
Yes please.

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Okay, now pick your jaw up off the floor, and wipe the drool from your chin.
Doesn't this all look so delicioius???
So many options out there...and all totally doable.  Go for it!

Or.......if you're planning to kick back and have a fun, relaxed evening...
whether it's just the two of you...
all the kids joining you...
party for one...
or with a big group of friends...
and you want to keep it simple?  Try some...
Heart Shaped Pepperoni Pizza
Too fun.  Who wouldn't get a kick out of this?

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Hope you all have fun figuring out the food that will help you celebrate this year!
For me, food is where it's at.  The way to my heart is through my stomach...for sure!
Much love to you and yours,

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