Passing the baton to 2017

Two-thousand sixteen. What. A. Year.

january

January: We started the new year with a completely unclear and hazy future.  Would we be serving in full-time ministry? Where would we live? Would we have any income? Scott’s brother did visit us from Korea, so that was a huge upside!!!  We visited Oklahoma, and God called us here. January 31st, we pulled out of our driveway in Michigan and headed into the unknown.

february

February: I believe we started February on the road in Indiana. We continued our sort of cross-country trek and landed in Oklahoma. We stuffed a million boxes inside of a small apartment. Everyone came down with the stomach flu and passed it around for weeks. Then, Harper spiked a nearly 105 degree fever and ended up having roseola. I’m not sure if I even made it to church in February because everyone was so sick.

march

March: EASTER! My parents came to visit us in our new home. We hunted Easter eggs, had an awesome Easter service at church, and enjoyed having company and warm weather.

april

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April: Our trusty white van was minding it’s own business when some idiot drunk driver smashed into it and took off. We got a new car payment to go along with our new van. 😛 This was also the month that we found out that Harper wasn’t hearing and needed to have her eyes checked to go along with her need of speech therapy. We also found out that Addison needed to have a mole removed to be safe. By this point, I was so ready to quit and hide under the covers forever and ever.

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may

May: We started exploring the area more. We went on many long walks at many parks and enjoyed seeing our town. Then came surgery time. Harper had tubes put in her ears and Addison had a mole removed that we later found out was pre-cancerous. I know that these surgeries are done every day, but to my mama heart it was the longest and most awful day ever. We went to the zoo, where Harper threw her glasses and they were never found again. haha!

june

June: We loaded up and traveled to see our families in Illinois. We got to ride horses, visit lots and lots of family, and go to the zoo. We also had a church fishing activity where the girls got to fish for the very first time! They each caught a fish thanks to our Pastor’s wife!

july

July: This was youth camp month! The teens had one last fundraiser. We signed Chloe up for dance classes. Harper turned two years old. Waaaah! Scott left for camp and Harper decided to get sick. We were stuck at home for FIVE days while daddy was gone. It was torture. But, the teens had an awesome camp week, and Scott enjoyed getting to know them better.

august

August: Chloe turned SIX and started first grade. We drove out to a ranch to visit some new friends, and also made another trip to the zoo. There were many more park days and so much heat!! Oklahoma is hot and humid in the summer. Did you know that? Scott and I also went on our first date since moving!! It was wonderful.

september

September: Still hot. Really, really hot. Pumpkin spice EVERYTHING also showed up. We did a lot of park-going. We finally hit up the local farmer’s market. Chloe started her new dance class, and the rest of us walked around the downtown area to explore.

october

october

October: My favorite month!!! Enter Chloe’s new glasses! What on earth? I’m not sure why 2/3 girls have such terrible vision, but at least we have it taken care of! Addi turned FIVE this month and lost her first tooth. We had visits from Scott’s mom and dad and my sister and her family! It was a jam-packed month full of blessings!

november

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November: We had our volunteer banquet at church, a parent observation day for Chloe’s dance class, and a trip to Illinois to see my family. Oh yeah! We also received a huge blessing of being able to move out of our small apartment into a home!!! We visited a reindeer ranch, spent thanksgiving with all of my family, had family pictures taken, and learned that traveling with a sick kid is zero fun! Scott stopped on our long trip home so that I could see my grandparents. It was so good to hug them and tell them how much I love them.

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December: Peppermint flavored everything! This month has been full of house projects and decorating. We went to two different Christmas parades because, why not? Chloe had her dance recital and did an amazing job. We spent a lot of time looking at Christmas lights and soaking in the season. We had a surprise visit from my dad, and may get another as he travels back through.

Now, here we are with just days left of this year. A year that, quite frankly, I am looking forward to saying good-bye to. It has been a rough and completely draining year. There have certainly been high points and many blessings. Just knowing that Harper went from not hearing or saying a single word (she heard muffled sounds and that’s it) to hearing and saying well over fifty words. It’s incredible. God has faithfully provided for us through each and every struggle that we have faced. Those struggles have still left us weary and in some cases hurting.

I always pray over a word for the new year. I don’t set resolutions, though I will be once again giving up gluten and diary… only this time for good. I had slacked off this year because of the insanity of it all, but I feel it. God hasn’t revealed a word to me yet, but as soon as I know I will be sharing it. 🙂 The word of this year was trust. I knew that it would apply to the need to trust God through the uncertainties of Scott’s job. I had no idea that we would face SO much this year or just how much I would need to trust God’s plan. I’m still clinging to that word through these last few days.

2017 is a clean slate. Anything can happen. That is both scary and exciting!! I am going to TRUST that it will bring more goodness and show the faithfulness of God even more.

What are you hoping to achieve in 2017? Do you have any goals? Do you have a word?

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Christmas Re-Cap

Merry late Christmas!! My photo dump is coming a few days late. 🙂

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We had my dad in town the past couple of days!!! He stopped in on his way to visit his brother, and it was so nice to spend time with him.

We had a wonderful Christmas. We only had a few gifts left to wrap on Christmas Eve, so I felt like we were winning!!! Here are some Christmas Day pictures. Most all are blurry because the girls were SO excited about their gifts.

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We got them a tool bench (similar) as their big gift to share. They have always loved helping Scott with any projects around the house, so this was perfect for them. They can pretend to drill and saw things, hammer nails, and put screws in.

I love Christmas morning with children. Seeing their eyes light up when they see their presents all stuffed around the tree is awesome. I love seeing a messy living room on Christmas. There was wrapping paper and bows everywhere!!

Scott’s mom and dad mailed all of their Christmas presents to us, so the girls had a second round of gifts to open. We Skyped with them while they tore in. It was so funny. I didn’t really get many pictures because we were chatting and sometimes its fun to just sit back and watch without trying to capture every moment on film.

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I made Vegan and Gluten Free cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and they didn’t turn out very well. If you have a tried and true recipe, send it my way please! I think we really need a do-over on the cinnamon rolls. When you are looking forward to fluffy and delicious cinnamon rolls, and get.. well, gross.. it’s a huge letdown!

Our house has been loud and chaotic ever since Christmas. There are new toys all around, and lots of fun being had. It’s the best!

How was your Christmas? Hopefully it was relaxing and filled with memories!

 

Dairy Free Eggnog Cookies

It took us until Christmas Eve to make a second batch of Christmas cookies, and these were actually successful. I usually bake cookies for loved ones as gifts since we don’t have a huge budget. This year just felt so chaotic, so please know that I still love you even though I didn’t get to gift you a tub of cookies.

I wanted to share a recipe that we really, REALLY love. I adapted this recipe from Land O’Lakes Eggnog Snowflake Cookies. Having a child with food allergies forces you to look for substitutes and make things work to keep your child safe.

Dairy Free Eggnog Cookies

1 cup Earth Balance Vegan Butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 Tablespoons Silk Nog
1 tsp Rum Extract    *I didn’t have this, and they still turned out delicious
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine vegan butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat on medium until creamed. Add egg, silk nog, and Rum & vanilla extracts; continue beating until mixed. Reduce speed to low and add all remaining ingredients. Beat until mixed well.

Lay out two pieces of plastic wrap and divide dough into two balls. (Put flour all over the plastic wrap, or it will be a sticky mess.) Wrap and flatten each ball. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out one-half of dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters and place on your baking sheet. These cookies don’t expand, so you don’t need a ton of space in between. Bake for 7 minutes, then let cool on a wire rack.

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Glaze:

1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons Earth Balance Vegan Butter
2 teaspoons lite corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon rum extract
3-5 Tablespoons water

Combine all ingredients except water in a bowl. Beat at medium speed adding water until your desired consistency is reached.
Decorate to your heart’s content. 🙂

These cookies are so lite and delicious!! Like I said, I am out of rum extract, so I omitted that ingredient, and they still taste delicious. If you are not a fan of the texture of eggnog, these cookies are a perfect way to get that tasty holiday flavor.

‘Twas the Friday before Christmas

First of all, I want to say THANK YOU so much to everyone who responded to my last post. I fully braced myself for a lot of hate. So far, I’ve received (mostly) the exact opposite. I’ve found that many of us don’t “do Santa”. Even those who do were kind and gracious. The support was overwhelming. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Blogging is sort of amazing. My blog is small. I started blogging just to document our life with a new baby when Chloe was born; more to share with family members. I sort of document time with Addi as a baby, but I was buried in two under two life. When I found out I was pregnant with Harper, I started writing weekly posts documenting the pregnancy. It is so cool to see how things have grown. I still don’t have a massive audience, and that is ok. But, I had views from the 5 different countries yesterday. All over the world. Many of those are missionary friends. Isn’t it amazing how this world wide web can unite us all?!

I wanted to share with you our homemade chocolate syrup recipe. I’m not a fan of unnecessary junk added to my food, so I love finding alternatives. This isn’t a clean recipe, but I am wanting to try it out with honey and carob powder to see how it would taste.

Here you go:

1 cup of sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup water
dash of salt
1 tsp vanilla

Put all of your dry ingredients into a pot. (You will want a pot MUCH larger than you think you need.) Whisk the dry ingredients. Add water and whisk again. Bring the mixture to a boil. This is where your extra large pot comes in, as the mixture rises an absurd amount. Reduce the heat and let simmer for at least one minute.

The picture above is how much a doubled recipe makes. This syrup replaces the chocolate syrup that you buy from the store. It is more runny, so be prepared for that, but tastes SO good. I’m not going to tell you how much to add to your milk, because I tend to overdo it big time! haha!! We don’t have this in our house all the time, but it does make a fun treat!! Who doesn’t love chocolate milk?!

I hope that you all have a very Merry Christmas surrounded by all of your loved ones!!

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The Santa Dilemma

I’m going to say something very unpopular.

We do not teach our children that Santa is real. *GASP* I also don’t teach the tooth fairy or the easter bunny. *bigger gasp*

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Our reasoning is simply that it is something that we felt really convicted about. If God tells you to do something, you do it. If He tells you not to do something, you don’t do it. There is not more to it. I believe that, as a Christian, everything should be approached in prayer.

I grew up believing in Santa for an embarrassingly long amount of time(like, double digit age). I was pretty heartbroken when I found out he wasn’t real. I don’t hold a grudge against my parents, nor did I have trust issues after. I just grew up, and that is natural. Our decision is not some religious crusade to “take back Christmas”. Christmas is ours and what we make it.

My flesh wants to teach Santa because it was fun; plus EVERYONE asks my kids if Santa is coming. “What did Santa bring you?” It would be easier to teach Santa.

Yes, I know that kids only get to be kids for a short amount of time. Let them be little. You know what? I do let them be little. I let them play and explore. I let them sit on my lap while we read stories. They use their imaginations WONDERFULLY without the Santa myth.  It irritates me that people assume that I don’t let my kids be little because I don’t go out of my way to pretend that Santa is real.

I have never understood why people get SO worked up if you don’t teach Santa. Why is it such a hot-button issue?

I am not writing this to change anyone’s mind. To be honest, I really don’t care if you do or don’t teach your children about Santa Clause. I have told my children time and time again that they never shout that Santa isn’t real if someone talks about him, because not all children know. However, you can never control what children say; I pray that they never ruin that for any child.

I have been asked before “don’t you feel like they are missing out on the magic of Christmas?” The answer to that is no, not one bit. We still watch the fun Christmas movies. We buy Christmas jammies and wear them all day on Christmas. We drive around looking at Christmas lights. Christmas presents appear under the tree after the girls have gone to sleep and their stockings are full. We bake Christmas cookies. We make countdown chains and anxiously await the day. There is no magic lost. We can make Christmas “magical” without Santa.

Currently, Chloe is insisting that Santa is real. So, I am navigating this struggle. I am teaching her the truth. Because of how many people ask questions, she is questioning. That is natural and normal. It is frustrating to me, because I know that she would not be questioning as much if it weren’t for everyone around her asking “Is Santa coming??” But, I am not angry at all. It is just something that we have to work through.

This is the first year that we have really had a lot of questions from Chloe and Addi about it. I imagine that people whose children believe in Santa get a lot of questions around this age also. My sister told me about this book, which I think will help to clear things up in their minds about Saint Nicholas and where Santa came from. I know there are many others that are probably good. If you have a favorite, let me know in the comments!!

I remember reading this post years ago, and nodding the whole time. I appreciated her approach so much!

When I hit publish on this post, I am going to continue praying that everyone is respectful. That no matter what side of it you are on, you will remain loving. I pray that we are not harassed about our decision.. a decision that we prayed long and hard about. We are doing the best that we can for our family, as I know you are, too. I am not casting judgment, and I hope that my words were filled with love.

Merry Christmas Eve Eve Eve! (Is that right?) 3 more sleeps!!! I am so grateful to all of you who take the time to read my little space on the internet. It means more than you know!!

 

An Assortment of Wintery-Things

*Groan* It is Monday already. I am pooped. We had meetings, dance class, Christmas parties, rehearsals, and recitals this past week/weekend. I’ve also been fighting off a miserable cold (along with the rest of my girls). Blah! Colds are dumb.

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It was a fun full week. Chloe did such a great job at her dance recital!!! She tends to get really shy when she has to be in front of people. To be completely honest, I was really worried about her getting stage fright. But, she rocked it!!! During rehearsal she looked overwhelmed for the first few moves and then found her groove. Show time was no problem at all for her. I am so proud, and sat in my seat fighting back tears. I was a backstage mom, so the above picture is the only one I have of her. I don’t know that I will ever volunteer to be a backstage mom again, but we will see. haha!

We actually got some snow here the night of the rehearsal. I don’t think that we even got an inch, but it came down really thick and windy while we were driving. It got below freezing, and I wanted to hide under many blankets inside.

If any of you girl moms are in need of a winter coat this time of year, Old Navy has these for $12.94 right now. For you boy moms, these are the cheapest I see. (Toddler girls/Toddler boys) I discovered a huge hole in Addi’s winter coat, and discovered that a hole was forming in Chloe’s in the same spot. I guess the moral of the story is don’t ever buy Gymboree coats because they fall apart easily. They did wear them all last year, so it’s not a complete loss.

I am really enjoying winter in Oklahoma so far. The temperature has been well above freezing, and the sun actually shines. I usually get in a MAJOR winter funk every year. So far, I am not feeling that one bit. It is so great to not feel clouded by depression. I can put on a coat and hat and usually feel pretty good outside. Though, most days I haven’t even needed the coat. Allllllllllll the praise hands!

Another huge praise is that we have a GARAGE. Scott worked his tail off on Friday and Saturday to get the rest of our boxes put in the attic or emptied out so that we could park in there before the cold set in. He was able to pull the van in before the “heavy” snow started. That man works so hard and does so much. I am so incredibly thankful for him.

Yesterday, he had to take our entire toilet apart. The handle to our diaper sprayer fell into the bowl as it got flushed and down it went. It got stuck and was clogging the toilet. He told me that I should start a blog series “Adventures with my Husband”. He was able to get something shoved in the pipe and pushed it up juuuust enough for me to cram my hand as far as I could get it and grab it. Who knew there would be such a celebration over things like that. Married life, folks. It’s never dull.

Hopefully the rest of our “holiday week” will involve less toilets. Do you have anything fun planned? I haven’t really planned anything this week other than Chloe dancing at an assisted living facility and our Christmas Eve service at church. I think that sounds like the perfect week.

P.S. I am hosting an intro to essential oils class over on Facebook today, so if you are at all interested in learning about them please join.

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, friends!! More like FriYAY! I love Fridays. It is the only day of the week that we typically don’t have anything that we have to do. Every female in our house is fighting off some sinus junk right now, so a relaxing and lazy day at home is perfect. Please pray that we don’t get any worse. Chloe’s first dance recital is tomorrow, and I’m a backstage mom. We can’t have any illness!

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This house is going to top my list. Can I just move in with them? It’s so beautiful!!!

This picture showed up in my memories today. Daisy with baby Chloe was just so cute!

This Vegan broccoli soup is so delicious. I typically am not a fan of just broccoli soup, but this is so creamy that you don’t  miss the cheddar part.

To go along with our sinus junk, I want to share how amazing this product is!! Vicks is not good for you, and I also have never felt that it actually helped at all. Plus, you had to SLATHER it on your feet (that was everyones recommendation). A little of this goes a long way, and has actually helped tremendously. ‘Tis the season.

I’ve talked about my love of Mama &  Little before. I wanted to share that I have seen on Amazon that many of their necklaces are seriously discounted. I LOVE these for teething babes!! Harper is mostly done teething, and I still reach for these because I know they can withstand toddler torture. haha!

This looks yummy.

Have you watched Reindeer Cam? I’m obsessed with watching the reindeer!! When Santa comes out in the morning, he tells facts about reindeer. I’m fascinated more than the girls!

Have a happy weekend! I hope that everyone stays nice and warm.

 

Cookie Time

As you can see, my girls LOVE making cookies. Really, they love to help with anything in the kitchen. Chloe says that she wants to be a “baker” when she grows up, so I have been really trying to tie cooking into our homeschooling. I try to give them as many opportunities to help in the kitchen as possible. I think that learning to cook is important for everyone because it is such a dying art. Though, we had a teenager make homemade chips and salsa for our Christmas party!

I am taking a course online called Child Nutrition and Cooking, and it has really opened my eyes to how much we have outsourced cooking for our families. I’ve always loved cooking, but I am guilty of taking advantage of the convenience too often. (It’s a free course if you want to sign up for it!)

Anyway, we are making our classic Sugar Cookie recipe. The dough is super sticky and wet, so we made it and put it in the fridge to firm up. Pictures of the rolling and cutting out process always depend on how frustrated I get! haha!

My mom always used to tell me that the best chefs were the messiest chefs. I told my girls the same thing and they said that we must be really good chefs.

Everyone got in on the helping. It’s really tough to hold a babe and take a picture of them at the same time! haha!! But, I couldn’t leave Harper out!

One of my favorite parts about these sugar cookies is that I can give the girls some of the dough and not worry about them getting sick. Plus, I think it’s amazing that it has been passed down at least 5 generations. I remember making these cookies with my mom. My recipe is written by her, and I need to laminate it so that it won’t get ruined.

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Christmas always makes me really nostalgic. My mom made every holiday so magical and fun; filling it with experiences that I will never forget. I want my girls to have those same memories. I try to not get caught up in the RUSH of the holiday season. Why do we ruin it? Yes, in ministry this time of year does get pretty busy. But, we need to slow down and savor it. If we rush through, we miss celebrating our savior’s birth. We miss this precious time with loved ones. We miss so much. Slow down and take it all in. Enjoy the wrapping paper messes. Enjoy your messy kitchen. It flies by so quickly and is gone in the blink of an eye.

 

**Update: Pictures of the rolling/cutout process definitely did NOT happen. HAHA!!**

Inventory

Making: It’s taco tuesday! Does anyone not eat tacos on Tuesday? I hate homemade tacos because they made me sick during all 4 pregnancies. I make them for my family, but I tend to skip dinner on Tuesdays or eat something else. I LOVE Mexican food though.

Drinking: Have you tried Kombucha? I’ve been trying to drink it because my gut could use some help. It’s not the greatest. I may try this from Amazon. I’ve tried Health Aid because it’s what I hear is the best. Pomegranate wasn’t my favorite.

Reading: We have been reading this as a family. This is also really wonderful.

Wanting: These earrings. They are such a pretty color!!

Looking Forward To: I can’t wait for our Christmas Eve service at church.

Listening: Hipster Holiday on Pandora. I’m obsessed!!

Playing: Clean up. The girls (and I) have a friend coming over and we are in cleaning mode.

Wishing: That we had a rake! We have two huge trees in our front yard and the leaves are out of control. We could seriously make a leaf mountain  to dive into and may even lose a child in the process. It’s crazy!!

Loving: The whole Christmas season. This is the first year in a while that I have been excited for Christmas.

Watching: ELF. I laugh so hard through that movie!! Scott and I also watched Home Alone after the girls went to bed the other night. It’s so funny!

We are just twelve days from Christmas!! Can you believe it?!

Christmas Countdown

Happy Monday! I hope your weekend was full of festivity and family. This was our first calm weekend in quite a while!! We were able to drive around looking at Christmas lights, go to a Christmas parade, and build our first fire in the fireplace. It was the perfect weekend before this crazy week ahead.

Chloe has her very first dance recital this weekend. I can’t wait to see her dance on stage, and I’m sure I’ll be that mom crying like a baby. I’ve got to get it together though, because I am supposed to be a useful backstage mom during the show. haha!

I am hoping to fit some Christmas cookie making and movie watching in between all of the rehearsals and parties this week. If you need some festive music, go check out the Hipster Holiday channel on Pandora. It’s been the perfect background music! We have made our countdown chains and are anxiously awaiting the big day.

It is so hard to believe that Christmas is only 13 days away! I THINK we are done Christmas shopping this year. We already have too much STUFF, so we have tried to get something they really want and something useful. Everyone always gets a book for Christmas (and every other holiday). I’m also still trying to sell some things on Instagram if anyone is interested.

I hope that you have a full and blessed week.