Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye 2016

2016 was a really tough year for our family and for a lot of people we know. We lost a beloved family member and that one event colored the rest of our year. Of course, we had our fair share of happy moments and good times, but none of those will stack up against the huge horrible moment when we lost my father-in-law Bob. I think we'll always look back on this year with sadness, but also with some amazement that we came out of this terrible event with more strength, compassion, and love; we survived.

I know there's a lot of pain and uncertainty in the world as we head into 2017, but I am hoping to carry one word with me into the new year: Hope. I hope we can cherish the happy moments, grow from the difficult ones, and continue to believe in the good of the world.

Happy New Year! XOXO

Thursday, December 29, 2016

so apparently two-year-sleep regression is a thing...

I guess I probably knew this back when Hayden was 2 but it's definitely been out of my mind. Charlotte has been a fairly consistent sleeper for the last couple years (save a crazy bout of waking up all the time right when we moved). She usually sleeps 11  hours at night and 2 hours for her nap. The last two weeks, it has been a little rough. One night it took me 3 hours to get her down to bed and she's taken little 45 minute naps rather than her usual naps... I realize this is an incredibly boring topic for most but if you're a momma of little ones, you know that your top topics of convo often are sleep, potty training, and your kid's eating habits...

Anyway, all this to say that if any of you are currently going through similar sleep issues I'm with you in spirit and may your coffee (and wine!) cups be extra full!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

christmas recap

Our first Christmas alone was a success! On Christmas Eve, we did a little baking during the day and then went to church. Hayden was a sheep in the Nativity story. It was really sweet, even though we lost him in the sea of white cotton-ball costumes during the performance. Meanwhile, Charlotte enjoyed removing every single book and trying to stack them as high as possible in our pew. Luckily, it was a kid-friendly and she wasn't the only noisy toddler! We went home and had a special dinner with the kids. After putting out cookies and milk for Santa and reading The Night Before Christmas, they went to bed quickly, knowing Santa wouldn't come until they were asleep.

On Christmas morning, we spent the whole day at home, playing with the kids new toys and relaxing. We were a little sad not to be in California with our families, but it was also a really nice way to spend the holiday with just each other and the kids.

In order to not overwhelm the kids (and our budget!) we stick to a 3 - 4 present guideline for the kids. Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.  With all the presents from extended family, they received so many fun items. Santa left Charlotte a doll high chair with a Cabbage Patch doll, that she LOVED. She's been feeding her many bottles, and all kinds of play food. She also got an adorable doll stroller from my parents and she's been zooming around the house like a boss with her doll and favorite stuffed animals. Her other favorite present was probably her backpack. She's been wearing it nonstop.

Santa brought Hayden Play Mag Magnetic Tiles which Hayden loved playing with at school. Charlotte has also enjoyed building with them. This age and the toys he's interested in are so fun!

Nick gave me an easel and painting supplies which was so sweet. I used to paint a lot in college and a little before we had kids, but haven't done too much of it recently. I miss painting and it was such a thoughtful, unexpected gift.

Christmas is definitely not all about the presents. It always brings about a renewed hope, faith, and a fierce love for family. Our hearts were sad all day, missing my father-in-law... however there was such a strong feeling of love and family all day long that reminded us that life is good, even when it's hard.
Hope you had a wonderful Christmas! 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas from our family!

I can't believe Christmas is upon us! I hope you have a very joyful and blessed holiday with your loved ones. We're looking forward to a quiet holiday at home and new memories with our sweet babies! XOXO

Thursday, December 22, 2016

throw-back thursday

I thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane and look at Christmases past. Some of these pictures are so awkward but fun to look at!
Christmas 2008: Our first married Christmas together (and the most awkward pose...)
Christmas 2010: Henry has literally tripled in size since this photo was taken.

Christmas 2010
Christmas 2012: Hayden's first Christmas

Christmas 2013: Probably replicating these outfits for this Christmas...

Christmas 2014: Super pregnant with Charlotte... 

Christmas 2015: Look how bald she was!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

classic books

Last New Year, I made the goal of only reading classic literature for the entire year. I felt like there were so many great books that I haven't read yet, and I wanted to use the year to make my way through a few of them. I always look at those "100 books to read" lists and see what I have and haven't read yet.  I enjoyed this project much more than I thought I would so I decided to keep it up for another year, though if I decide to take a break, I won't be too hard on myself ;)  I read all of them on my iPad. I enjoy reading "real" books but a lot of my reading is done late at night when Nick is sleeping so it's better to have the light off.

Here's a list books that I've read in the last year:

My favorites were Hawaii, The Color Purple and To Kill a Mockingbird. What classics do you recommend? I would love to have a list for 2017!

*All books linked on Amazon!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Interviews with Hayden

I thought it would be fun to record Hayden's answers to a series of questions about life right now. He's currently 4 years, 4 months old and this is what he had to say: 

What is something I always say to you? Be so nice to Charlotte. 
What makes you happy? I love you!
What makes you sad? Charlotte closes the dining room door.
How do I make you laugh? Tickles!
How old am I? 93 or maybe 31
How old are you? 4
What do I do for a job? Work on computer and your iPad
What do you enjoy doing with me? Play outside and chase around
Who is your best friend? Samuel and David
What are you really good at? Cuts with scissors on paper
What do you want to be when you grow up? A lion
What did you do today? Play at school and I learned things. Even I just did snack time and reading time and play time. 
What is your favorite food? Watermelon
What does daddy do for work? Activities. He cuts paper. Is there any paper at his work?
Where is your favorite place to go? The park with the slide inside
What is love? I love you! That's love. Hugs and love.
What does Charlotte always say?  Gugs! ( aka Hugs!)
 What is your favorite book? I Want My Hat Back
What is your favorite toy? Play dough
What is your favorite color?  Red

Monday, December 19, 2016

My review of Symphony: Behind the scenes blogging!

Since I created a Facebook page for the blog a  couple weeks ago, I wanted to find a tool to automatically publish my posts to Facebook. I found Symphony (by googling Networked Blogs- their former name). It was so easy to connect my Facebook page to a Symphony account and now my blog posts are published automatically.

I love that the posts are published with a full sized picture, a snippet of my post, and posted almost immediately after I write them! This tool is great for publicizing a new blog post and the automaticity of the tool is my favorite component. For a busy mom, who schedules all my posts the weekend before, it's nice not to have to think about this step!

My second favorite component of Symphony: the analytics. I can see the engagement level of each post, helping me to better tailor each post to my audience.  Anyone who's a blogger, should definitely give Symphony a try!You can try it for free by clicking this link. I promise you'll love it!

snow day!

We woke up Saturday morning to a few inches of snow. I always think it's so beautiful when the yard and roads have a fresh blanket of snow.  Everything is so quiet and clean and peaceful looking. Since it was a weekend, the snowplows didn't come by till afternoon. Charlotte was ready to bundle up and head outside right away with Daddy. Poor Hayden woke up with a stomach bug and spent the morning on the couch but he felt better after noon and went out too. Our driveway wraps around the back of the house and has a little incline on one side. The kids had a ball sledding down the little hill. Hayden was old enough to go by himself and Charlotte got pulled along by Nick. Both kids were thrill seekers and loved going down fast.

After a good hour outside, both kids were worn out and went down for naps and while our snow clothes tumbled in the dryer for round two, I wrapped the rest of our Christmas gifts and watched It's a Wonderful Life. It's one of my favorites and I watch it every year either while wrapping presents or writing out my Christmas cards. It was such a fun December day!

I think it's safe to say my kids (and husband) are big fans of the snow! 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Friday, Friyay

Hayden finished up school for the year on Wednesday and our schedule is suddenly wide open. We have a few playdates scheduled next week but other than that, we plan to lay low and enjoy the week before Christmas. I'm done shopping and hoping not to set foot into another store until after Christmas!
their faces crack me up...

This week we made gingerbread play dough for Hayden's friends and used this cute packaging idea from Imagination Tree. Homemade play dough is so quick and easy and this batch smelled great with all the spices mixed in.

On Monday, Hayden's school went Christmas caroling at a rest home and it was the cutest thing. Hayden knew the songs but as soon as they started singing, he just stood there with his mouth open, not singing a word.

Poor Charlotte Mae has an ear infection and has been under the weather off and on for the last couple weeks. Hoping with this round of medicine she'll be 100% (or as Hayden says 100 perzent) before the holidays. It took me 3 hours (!!) to get her to sleep last night.. Hoping she feels better today!

Listening to: Leslie Odem Jr. Simply Christmas on repeat... All the heart eyes for that voice!

The weather here has been getting progressively colder (20 is the high today!) and all I want to do is wear slippers and sweats 24/7. I love everything below:

Affiliate links used.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Favorite Hair Products

Nick has joked with me that I have no brand loyalty. For years, I would try out new products and switch things up constantly. I finally feel like I have found a few products that I absolutely love.

  1. Oribe Texture Spray: I love the way this smells and it does good things for my messy/wavy vibe.
  2. Living Proof Split End Repair: Confession... It's been WAY too long since I cut my hair. This keeps the ends in check. 
  3. Bumble and Bumble Primer: I love this for smoothing my hair before and after I blow dry it.
  4. Bumble and Bumble Thickening Shampoo: This one gives my hair lots of body that holds well between washes.  
 I haven't found a dry shampoo that I'm completely committed to, though that's definitely a product I use daily! What's your favorite? Anything else you use and love daily?

Affiliate links used.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

sausage pasta soup

Growing up, sausage pasta was one of those standard meals in rotation and we all loved it. I've made it as an adult a fair amount of times but decided to try and adapt the recipe for soup. We love soup at our house and it seems like a healthier option than a giant plate of pasta. It turned out super tasty! Here's the recipe if you'd like to replicate:

  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced 
  • Canned diced tomatoes (undrained) 
  • 6 c chick broth/stock 
  • 2 c of spinach (optional)
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pack of sausage (kielbasa or anything that's not sweet, I used a sun-dried  tomato chicken sausage from Costco) 
  • 1 package of tortellini or ravioli (we used spinach and cheese)
  • Cook onions and garlic in olive oil in a large stock pot  on medium heat until onions are translucent
  • Slice sausage into rounds and add to the onion mixture. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, until sausage starts to brown. 
  • Add remaining ingredients except for pasta, bring to a boil. 
  • Simmer for 20 mins, adding pasta in the last few minutes (it cooks fast and you don't want it to get mushy in the soup). 
This soup was really quick and a hit with everyone in the family so it will definitely be added to our extensive list of favorite soup recipes

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