Friday, December 30, 2011

A Year In Pictures


















Could this year have gone ANY faster???

Thankful for our many blessings, our ups and our downs, our easy and tough lessons, our sweet half dozen, our fun and chaotic life, and for your friendships through this past year.

Hope you have a fun New Years...here's hoping I'm not asleep when the ball drops :)! Anyone have exciting plans?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Good, Good, (random) Times...

lots of gifts were opened...

even more Christmas goodies were consumed :)...

tons of memories...

5 girlie's that love their new toys...


1 little guy that is crawling...but only backwards...

I thinks it's because he is so used to backing up from all these women :)...

we got Netflix as a gift and I keep wondering why NO ONE told me how great it is!?

our house has been filled with giggling kiddos...

and our overflowing shoe basket is going beyond the call of duty...


the long weekend went to fast...

I loooove having holiday family time...

and having my hubby home...

and opening little gifts that the girls have wrapped...


I'm looking for someone who wants to hit Targets holiday 75% off sale with me...

the girls have been playing Twister and they think it is hilarious...

I'm wishing it would snow instead of rain...

and a certain little man got some Lincoln Logs this year...


Although dad and his little girls have been the ones playing with them for now :).

Pretty random, eh? You'll have to excuse me while I try to get back to forming complete thoughts after a long, relaxing weekend. I hope you all had a great Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

From Us

Well friends, it has been a busy week (and month) around here. We have been hanging out, wrapping gifts, baking, and the older 3 have been making loads of friendship bracelets for their cousins (they are really into those right now) :).

I'm out of here till after Christmas to spend loads of time with family and our house full of kiddos.

So from our little family to yours...


(and yes, I realize that Lincoln looks like a clone on Eric's lap! Ha!)

Hope you have a great weekend and wonderful Christmas celebrating all that He has done for us!

Much love to you all!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

As Seen In Our House Yesterday...

Not the most perfect buckeyes, but the Littles worked pretty hard on them :).



Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Laugh Till You Drop

Everyone always asks us, "how are the girls with Lincoln???"

Well, they are gushing over him and cracking him up all the time. (They also act like 5 little mama's which can be good AND bad!)

So excuse me while I post this 18 second memory that I want to keep forever so I can listen to that little laugh years from now :).

video

Pretty cute, huh??

It also kinda melts me at the end when Char says, "again!". Looove that joy they bring to each other.

Alright, mommy-melting-moment over now. Normal business can resume :).

Bakin' Some Goodies - Peppermint Bark

We started in on our holiday baking this week and I thought I'd share this kid friendly Peppermint Bark recipe. I'm sure many of you have made it, but if not, the kiddos adore it and it was a huge success even with all our little helping hands :).


All you need is:

1 bag of chocolate chips
1 bag of white chocolate chips
crushed candy canes


Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Melt the chocolate chips, either on the stove or in the microwave, and pour on baking sheet. Put in fridge to harden. Melt the white chocolate, be careful cause it burns quicker than the regular chocolate for some reason (anyone know why???). Pull baking sheet out of the fridge and pour the white chocolate over the hard bottom layer of regular chocolate. Crush candy canes and sprinkle generously. Pop back in the fridge and let harden. Then break apart and serve!


I made a double batch thinking I would freeze some for our family gatherings next week, but I think we are going to have to make some more :).

We made some cookie cutter sugar cookies too, always a favorite around here. Next week we are diving into the Lemon Bars and Buckeyes. I LOVE Lemon Bars. I mean, really love them. And those recipes are so great to make and freeze.

So, that's it for now, make this if you haven't already!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bedtime Woes

They are never fun.

For some reason I've been asked a lot lately about our bedtime routines - mainly how we keep the kiddos in their beds when they share a room. I mean, it's rough when you have a built in play mate, it's like a party all the time.

My main advice is to just throw them all in there and pray for daylight, my friends.

Ahem.

Soooo, I've been emailing back and forth with people talking about what has worked best for us. And WOULDN'T YOU KNOW, all the sudden after sharing the good and bad of our bedtime wars, our little 3yr olds have decided to give us a run for our money at bedtime.

Yet again.

It makes me sorta crazy when they don't listen at bedtime, mainly cause I've usually been on active mom duty for 16 hours and I'm ready for the sleep part of my shift. You know the feeling.

But even though it makes me crazy when they won't lay their sweet little heads down and get some shut eye, I have to laugh at what they come up with to keep themselves busy.

Exhibit A...



Those are my clever 3yr olds under their fitted sheet with ALL the animals and dolls in the room. They said its like a tent, and I have to hand it to them, getting under the fitted sheet is a pretty ingenious tent idea. Back in my day we just propped the sheets up with chairs.

Tent making has come a long way, folks.

So it looks like we are back to our disciplinary ways at bedtime. We aren't the only ones with night owls are we??

And for the record, those giggles are hard to crack down on, even when I'm really tired :).

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Good Life

It may not be the glamorous life...

or a wealthy life...

or the life that comes with the finest dishes...


But it's the good life.

It may not be the easy life...

the stress free life...

or the gourmet meals life...


But its the good life.

It may not be the quiet life...

the relaxing life...

or the life with the most personal space...


But its the good life.

It may not be the worry free life...

the free-to-do-what-you-want life...

or the life that remembers to fill frames in the nursery (just add a pic, its been 7 months!!)...


But its the good life.

It may not be the caught-up-on-the-laundry life...

the house looks perfect life...

or the life that thinks pants are more important than the decorated Christmas tree...


But its the good life.

It may not be the fancy furniture life...

the romantic getaways life...

or the easy bedtime life.

But its the good life.

I thought of Kinley when I looked down the stairs tonight after a draining, mom-is-so-worn-out kind of evening - I actually laughed about the underwear picture and her innocent sweetness when I saw the light of the tree...


Thankful for the reminders of God's goodness and incredible blessings :).

Sometimes being a mama isn't the least stressful life, but it's definitely the good life.

Monday, December 5, 2011

(1st Lights)

Friday, December 2, 2011

In Other News

The girls and I are painting nails today. Its one of their favorite things to do - and I have a new color I want to try out, called "I break for manicures", so its a win-win.

Have I ever mentioned that I've never had a full pedicure? I don't like touching peoples feet, and I don't like mine being touched either. I should get over that cause I hear they are fabulous.

Lincoln is sorta sitting up, but very wobbly.


AND he cut his first tooth! It's been a busy week for him :).

We're making homemade playdoh today - the kiddos are pumped to say the very least.

Remember that sign I posted on here from Pinterest?? Someone made one for us! Some sweet, sweet, person (they won't tell me who!) made it for us as a gift. We hung it in our entry way, opposite my Fall wreath/mirror...


I love, love, love it...


I'm making our first chore chart - turns out 5yr olds and 7yr olds CAN help out around the house :). So they are now the proud owners of morning and afternoon chores. It's added more structure to our day in some ways which I really am liking.

We are still having dance parties in the kitchen.

Our Comfort Crockpot Mac and Cheese is in the crockpot today, its always a hit!

So we're off now to start our playdoh making, Hoping its a success!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What A Year Can Do

One year ago today we found out that this little sweetie was a boy...


1 year since I said, "A boy!? Really!? Are you SURE!?".

And now a whole year later we have this amazingly sweet, lovable, squeezable, snuggly, giggling, smiley, most adored little brother......

Should I go on?

Yes?

...rolling, babbling, wonderful, bury-your-nose-in-his-sweet smelling self, beaming, mama melting little guy...


Sigh. Will the "mama's boy" thing ever wear off? Will his sisters ever not gush all over him? Will there ever be a girl good enough for my sweet Lincoln?

Am I getting ahead of myself? Sorry.

Anywho. Just was reading some posts from this time last year and saw that it had been a year since we heard, "its a boy!". Good, good times.

We just love that kiddo. He's one of my 6 greatest gifts. I could have a hundred more of that little babe :).

(Or maybe just 1 or 2 more, a hundred is a lot. Boundries, people, boundries.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Post Long Weekend Rambling

We had a great holiday. Long weekends with my people are my favorite.

I made the switch from Pumpkin Spice creamer to Peppermint Mocha creamer. Needless to say I've been drinking a lot of coffee. Have ya tried it??

We ate a lot, and relaxed, and decorated...


We watched movies, baked some goodies, and started to listen to Christmas music around the clock.

Remember how I said we were making pies for Ella's school?? We won a prize. I'm not kidding, it won 1st place! I still laugh just thinking about it...I'm not a real seasoned pie maker. AND, it was the easiest pie I've ever made, my friends. Funny, huh?

Oh, and you guys, I got an awesome deal on a "under the cabinet" stereo the day after Thanksgiving. And let me tell you, I don't know how I cooked without it. It is SO great!

(are there some southerners out there laughing cause I say "you guys"? I lived in Baton Rouge for a while and they always thought it sounded so funny! Some of my favorite people live there, I miss them.)

The girlie's can get a little carried away sometimes with the new stereo and before I know it there is a small dance party underway while I'm trying to make dinner. Totally worth it though.

Seriously, Christmas tunes while you're cooking, it's a gift. It's like a whole new world to me.

Anyway, thats all the rambling for now. The later it gets, the harder it is for me to form a thought. You understand.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Gift Debate - We Try To Keep It Simple

It's the holidays, obviously. And as you know, I'm a big fan.

The family get togethers, the last minute shopping, the amazing meals, the look on the kids faces - all of it is wonderful to me. Just, wonderful.

Thanksgiving is almost here (yay!!), the Christmas shopping is starting up, and we again face the gift debate as we pick out things for the kiddos.

Life has changed as our family continues to grow. Christmas isn't cheap anymore. And even with that fact set aside, I just feel like the kids get SO much from everyone, when they really already have all they need. We by no means are real flourished with money, and even if we were, the kids wouldn't get everything they want. It just doesn't work like that around here.

We knew that having a big family would mean that everyone would not always get what they want, sacrifices would be made at times, and that we would probably never be real "well off". And honestly, I don't want to be. We're not exactly chasin' the American dream here :). But in my opinion, no money could ever top what we have been given.

The world can keep that dream, I'll take this dream.

Those kiddos are spoiled rotten with love anyway, no material item would ever compare to what they already have. Thankyouverymuch :).

Don't get me wrong though. Those little loves have my number for sure. They ask for this or that, and flash a sweet little smile at me, and I can cave like nothing you've ever seen. I can be weak.


Sometimes its hard to say no to a face like that, but I do. A lot.

I look at the ads, I count what we've saved, map out what I'm going to pick up for the kids, and I get all excited about seeing the look on their sweet little faces when they open it. But at the same time I've always felt this pull, this feeling in my heart that we should be doing Christmas gifts differently, even though that's what the kiddos really look forward to.

After all, it's not about the gifts, it's about Him. The One who gave us all we have, the One who provides for our every need, and the One who gives me the amazing gift of Grace when I open my eyes every morning.

So we asked ourselves - do they get 1 gift, 3 gifts, 6 gifts? When is enough enough? At what amount of money do you spend when you finally say, "this is kind of ridiculous."?

I just want them to really understand that this is all about giving, not receiving, you know? I want them to be thankful for the small things, not always expect the big things.

So last year we started focusing on 3 gifts each, the same amount that the wise men brought Jesus. And then they get some little things or accessories in their stockings.

It's simple. But I think it might just work out :).

Does our gift giving sound anything like yours? How do you do Christmas in your house? Gifts? Traditions? Ground rules?

I'm always up for new ideas :).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

10 Things I (Try) To Teach Our Girls

Soooo....

I got some comments on a recent post questioning how I raise our girls. And just in case you were curious as well, I'm not forcing our girls to be homemakers. I believe they should be whatever God calls them to be.

My calling is not their calling.

But for the record, if you are a mom and a wife, I do feel like "homemaker" is part of our calling whether you work full time in an office or stay at home full time with the kiddos, so I do focus a lot on teaching them about it. But that doesn't mean I tell them they shouldn't pursue a career or some other passion.

I myself run a small photography business AND consider myself a homemaker as well :).

However, homemaker is my calling, photography is my hobby.

SO, I thought I'd share things that I do often tell our girls, and rules I keep close to my heart that I want them to know and embrace.

1. You are like a ruby. Rare and one of a kind.

2. Modesty is admirable. And a must in this house till you are old enough to support yourself. Ahem. Covering up doesn't mean you can't be trendy. Passing trends are often not very classy anyway, keep things covered that should be covered, lady.

And I don't care if everyone else is wearing it - lead, don't follow.

3. The point to makeup is to make it look like you're not wearing any. That's what my mom used to tell me. Anything that matches an actual color of the rainbow is to much, unless you're pursuing a look that resembles Mimi from the Drew Carey Show. Which we aren't going for.

Oh, and there is no makeup till you can put it on AND wash it off effectively...which I haven't even really mastered yet at age 30, so you've got some time.

4. The future is yours. Well, ultimately it's His. You can accomplish anything you want. Follow His lead, and be the best YOU that you can be.

But promise mama that someone will have a little bundle at some point, ok? My ovaries will eventually dry up and I'll need to rely on you for a baby fix.

5. Don't be a gossip. It's just not good. "If she's talking to you about her, shes probably talking to her about you." Don't be that girl. God wants your words to be full of grace.

6. Focus on your heart, not your appearance. The pressure from our culture can be nasty, be prepared to fight for what you know is true. The state of your heart is more important than your size, or choice in "designer" clothes - you are more important than a number. And at the end of the day, people want to be with someone who's heart is full of passion and joy...not with someone who only talks about her image or lack there of.

7. I am your mother, not your friend. This is a hard one for me because I really want you to like me and I know that sometimes you won't. For now though, it's my job to raise you. When you are older, settled down, and having a family of your own, I can act more like a friend in some ways.

But for now, and all the way through high school, I will basically stalk you. Someday, you'll thank me.

8. Take a good look at me. This is your future. Hips and all. You will at some point say, "Oh goodness, I am my mother!".

9. Be hard to find, not easy to get. A friend told me that back in my single days and I have never forgot it. Have high standards and don't compromise. God has already chosen a perfect guy for you, wait for him.

10. Always be upfront and tell the truth. Honesty is freeing, and everything comes to light eventually anyway. It's like telling someone they have something in their teeth - its awkward at first, but rewarding for everyone in the end.

So there they are. The top 10 things I tell our sweet, growing girls.

And from what I see thus far, we have all kinds of dreams ahead :).

Monday, November 21, 2011

We Like To Party - Holiday Ultimate Moms Night Out!

It's time to celebrate the holidays!

I looovvve my kiddos, my full time mommy life, and my everyday tasks. Although I could do without scrubbing the toilets, but lets not go there. I really do love my job. But you know what else I reeaally love??

A Mom's Night Out.

And I'm not talking about an evening trip to Target with this group...


Even though they are fantastic company...and always a good time.

I'm talking a relaxing night of encouragement, pampering (as in complimentary manicures!!), conversation, and good food with some fabulous women. Women who understand your life, your madness, your stress, your passions, your faith, and the reason you love this big blog world.


That is one of my favorite pictures from the last night out, they look like they're having fun, don't ya think :)??

This time around however, we want to encourage you all to give back to others before the event. We want you to reach out in your community and love on some people. Take balloons to the maternity ward and coffee to the nurses. Pass out suckers to the kiddos in the store who are making things hard on their mom. Pay for the person's items behind you in line. Take someone dinner. Send a friend an actual card telling her how thankful for her.

Just. Give. Back.

I know random acts of kindness don't sound like a big deal, but they are. Believe me. You never know how much you can brighten someones day, or how much someone needs that extra blessing to get them through a long afternoon.

Love on each other. Share the joy. And spread some cheer, ok? Promise? Good.

SO, on December 6th at 6:30pm, Amy and I, along with Lifestages, Peeps, and Pedi-Derm, will host the 1st Holiday Ultimate Mom's Night Out.

It just sounds fun, doesn't it?

So if you're local (oh how I wish you were ALL local), or close enough to get here, you will want to go HERE and grab a ticket! We are going to live it up, ladies!

Mary Kay and Beaute Box will be pampering us, Veggie Tales and many others will be giving gifts, and lots of swag will be stuffed inside bags for each of you.

And there is much more :).

So go get your ticket! There are only 50 available this time, and even though I love ya'll like sisters, I can't guarantee anything.

I took an oath.

Not really but I've always wanted to say that.

I am so thankful for the mama's that make my life richer, and I am so looking forward to a night of relaxation, laughter, and catching up.

So c'mon Mom's, let's get together for the Ultimate Mom's Night Out :)!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Things You Need To Know...

or maybe you don't need to know. You can be the judge of that.

We are putting the tree up this weekend. I am a full week behind on that, we usually are one of those houses that you drive by right after Halloween and say, "oh my goodness, they have their tree up!" I can't help myself, I love the holiday decor.

Speaking of which, I bought a sign a few weeks back that I just adored. It was one of those things where you want to buy it, but don't really want to spend the money, but then end up with it in your cart because Christmas decor is SO FUN.

Anyway, I put it up. But clearly it didn't stand a chance in this house full of kiddos...


I actually wasn't even upset, I kind of smiled. In this house, it makes sense that it would be missing a letter. I'm going to leave it up, "erry Christmas" will have to do :).

Please reassure me that we're not the only ones who love the Mariah Carey Christmas CD?? Should I be embarrassed about that?

Remember that laundry system I had going a couple weeks back??

Well.

Don't be mad.

I sort of left it in the dust this past week...


All for good reason though. I have so many (sweet) distractions, right?


 I looked at that full couch yesterday and thought, "I should quit complaining about this chore, how blessed am I to have all these little clothes to fold?? That's a big 'ol pile Gods goodness right there!"

So I'm back on track today, we'll see how long this streak lasts.

7mo old Lincoln is on the brink of being mobile. I think we are about a month away from baby gates and a Christmas tree with only ornaments on the top half.

I've been looking at some of the black Friday ads that are being released and I have to admit, I'm tempted to line up at midnight at Target for some of those deals. We changed how we do gifts last year by taking on a more simple approach, but I wouldn't mind getting good deals on what we do buy! Anyone else do black Friday shopping??


We are baking pies this weekend for a Thanksgiving thing at the girls school. Please, someone stop me before I volunteer for anything else. I can't say no when it comes to that stuff!

Well, I think that's all the random I have for now :). Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Super Easy Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

I've had a few questions about our chicken noodle soup recipe that was in a pic a few weeks back...so I thought I'd share it :). It is a staple around this house, the kiddos seriously love it.

I call it one of our "big family meals". Its easy to make in bulk and it's easy to reheat for leftovers.

Also, its an insanely simple recipe. I like simple. And fast. And healthy.

This satisfies all 3 of those things.

So, here is the chicken noodle soup recipe that I make for our growing brood...


Ingredients:

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
4 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
1/2 pound chopped cooked chicken breast
1 1/2 cups egg noodles
1 cup sliced carrots
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Dump everything except for the noodles in the crockpot and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Cook noodles right before the meal and serve! That's it!

I just made 3 batches of it yesterday so I could freeze 2 of them. There is nothing better than realizing you have frozen chicken noodle soup that you can just pop in the crockpot on a busy day. For real.

Hope you like it as much as we do!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sing With Me...

Happy birthday to you (two)...


Happy Birthday to you (two)...


Haaappy Birthday to my sweet, squeezable, savvy littlest women...


Happy Birthday to you (two)!!

Oh ladies, you are a joy. We had a blast celebrating your 3rd birthday at your little Pink & Purple party...


Your sweet faces have been making my life brighter for the past 3 years. You are by far our most talkative 3yr olds we've ever had, you love to play outside, you love to sing, and you loooove to be with your big sisters...when you're not lovin' on Lincoln :).

3 years ago today you gave us a gentle shove into big family life. Clearly, you've been gifts from the get go...


Happy 3rd Birthday, baby girls! I am so proud you, and can't wait to see what God has in store for your little hearts. We love, love, love you SO much!!