Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Favorites: Thanksgiving!

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It's fitting that my Friday favorite would be the Thanksgiving holiday. I love everything about it. It's relaxing, stress-free (unless you are the one making the meal) and an opportunity to hang out together and enjoy a meal. There are no pressures and no expectations...and I just love it! There is something hypnotizing about walking into a warm house that smells like a Thanksgiving meal. I'm serious, it's my favorite.
 
I've been waiting to put my girls in these absolutely adorable dresses that they got as a gift about a year ago. Figured I'd try and take a couple pictures of them before we head out, but they aren't exactly cooperative for pictures these days, so I've learned to take what I can get. #toddlerproblems
 
**As a side note, Molly has a horrible rash around her mouth that we finally just got a referral for, after unsuccessfully trying three different creams (for eczema, impetigo and fungus). After seeing a dermatologist, she was diagnosed with a skin condition that starts with a P...seriously, can't remember the name of it! Shoot! Anyway, it's fairly rare, there is no known cause. Great. And, because she's a child, they can't use the oral antibiotics they'd normally use on a n adult. So, they gave us a prescription face wash, to the tune of $129 for a tube, thank you, insurance, and told me it could take up to 2 weeks before we see a difference. So far, it's still really red and nasty, but we are hopeful! Even cetaphil, aquaphor and several of the doTerra oils didn't touch it. Poor girl. We are going on 2 months of this rash! Please pray for a full recovery.
 
I digress....here are a couple of my favorites from the front porch photo sesh. =)



After the pics, we loaded up the kids and headed to my parents house for Thanksgiving. Normally, we do an early dinner with my family and then a later dinner/dessert with Adam's family, but they had other plans this year, so we stuck with one house. It felt a little weird changing our routine and our kids were really disappointed to miss out on the other side of the family, but I know that's part of life and balancing everyone's schedules. Hopefully, we'll return to normal for next year. ;-)

 
Papa loves his grandbabies and I sure love my two cute nephews!!

 
So fun to have a cousin the exact same age. And I can hardly believe they are about to turn THREE!!!! Wahhhh!!!??



 
 
Not gonna lie, I changed this picture to black and white because our colors did NOT coordinate. My OCD personality couldn't handle the mis-match, so the black & white made me breathe easier. ;-) #nerdalert

 
 
These 4 sweet faces are the best.

 
 
 
The 6 cousins. Not possible that I could love them any more than I do.

 
From here on out, I'm going to apologize for the quality of my picture taking skills. I snapped a couple random ones and then didn't pick my camera back up until dinner was over. Trust me, it was amazing. My parents spoiled us with the most incredible dinner and I know they worked really hard on it. It was so nice to be able to play with the kids and be attentive to them without worrying about cooking and hosting a large meal.
 

 
Master turkey carver
 

 
Noah (my brother-in-law) was a master potato masher. Yes, that pot was full of potatoes...for 6 adults and 6 children. Can you say, leftovers?!?!

 
It's safe to say that my kids were in heaven. I have friends who's kids don't like to eat. Mine have never had that problem. We are definitely eaters around here! ;-)

 
 
 
Some years, we've done really pretty place settings with candles and other d├ęcor. This year, we kept it simple and kept the food on the counter, so little hands couldn't get in the way or knock things over.





Post-dinner, the kids begged to go swimming, so we made a deal...grandma and papa go out with the kids and the rest of us did all of the clean up. Worked perfectly! They have a hot tub and a pool (it's one of the swim spas with a current where you can swim in place). They turned the pool up to 89 and kept the hot tub at 99, so it was perfect for the kids to stay in for a loooooong time!



My boys stayed in for 90 minutes until it was pitch black outside. Thankfully, the dining room window opens right to the pool, so we could sit inside and watch without getting cold.
 

 
Adam and our sweet nephew, Drew, were on pool watching duty. It's a rough job, but somebody's gotta do it.

 
My parents just moved in a month ago, but the plan is for my dad to build a deck around the hot tub and pool once the weather warms up. For now, it's just some wood planks providing a walk way. When it's not cloudy, that entire view is Mt Rainier. Not too shabby.



Brylie sure loves her papa! We forgot her swimsuit--don't worry she was in a swim diaper--so she swam topless. Ha!
 


Even with the mountain hidden behind clouds, it was still an incredible view.
 

And one last picture because Jake wanted me to take a picture of him doing a handstand. Nice.

 
And with that, I hope you enjoyed your day with friends and family. We are heading to Hawaii soon, so it's time for me to kick it into high gear and start eating more healthfully. Ready, set, go!



Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Oh boy am I thankful. I can't even begin to tell you how thankful I am, because I know I've been blessed beyond words.

My greatest blessings come from these five. They make my life complete, they've given me a purpose and motivate me to be the best that I can be. I love my husband and my four kids, more than I can explain in words. Being a wife and a mom is all I've ever wanted. I feel fulfilled and inspired. Don't get me wrong, I love being a teacher, too, but my greatest accomplishment is raising a family.
 
 
 
In a previous post, I mentioned my thankfulness for my parents. I'm also so thankful for my siblings and my nephews. I'm saving an entire post for those two little boys who have my heart, but I am certainly thankful for them today. Being an auntie is almost as good as being a mom. My sister has been by my side through everything and I don't think there has been even one day that we haven't talked on the phone, or a week where we haven't seen each other multiple times. I pray that my girls have the same relationship that we have had, over the years. I know she loves our kids like her own...and most of the time, I think my kids would prefer to spend time at her house, rather than ours! She spoils them like crazy!! And my brother, even though he's in a different stage in his life, has been a source of support for us. Spending a weekend in Disneyland with him, at the end of the September was a huge blessing. I know he loves our kids and I'm so thankful for that. He's not above a pink Minnie backpack and a double BoB stroller....rolling like a real uncle! ;-)
 
 



 
Finally, I'm thankful for our "village". Raising four young children with a busy husband, means relying on people to help with our kids. Whether it's coaches who offer to drive our kids to practice and games, neighbors who babysit or help with carpooling, friends who run errands or offer childcare and teachers who provide extra loving care when our kiddos need it. We are thankful for all of them. I might lose my mind, especially during football season, if it wasn't for the love, compassion and care that people in our community have shown to our family.
 
I am thankful for this blog and the ability to share what is on my heart. Taking a leap and writing publicly is nerve-wracking, but I have been received with warmth and encouragement. Thank YOU for reading!
 
I hope you have an absolutely wonderful day, celebrating with the people you love most!!!
XOXO


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

All about me....

Alright, I'm totally flattered to have been nominated for this award again. Wow! This time, by Alison at Puppies & Pretties. Because I've participated and nominated others, I'll just do the questions this time. Maybe you'll learn something new about me. ;-) I have to answer the 11 from Alison and then list an additional 11 facts about myself.
 
Here goes nothing...
  1. What is your favorite color? teal
  2. What is your favorite book/series? I really enjoyed reading the Hunger Game series, but I gotta be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of the first two movies. I've heard the third movie was better, but I have yet to see it.
  3. If you could pick 1 article of clothing that you had to wear every day, what would it be? a scarf
  4. Dog or Cat? definitely dog. I'm not a cat person AT ALL.
  5. What is your favorite movie? This is really hard! "Slumdog Millionaire" was one of my favorites. I still love the classic, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and "Princess Bride". Any comedy with Jim Carey is pretty great, too.
  6. What is your favorite Trader Joe’s item? Their gouda gnocchi is to die for! Find it in the frozen section.
  7. If you had to pick 1 store to buy all of your clothes from, where would it be? Nordstrom
  8. Where was your favorite vacation? With my kids...Disneyland, for sure! But otherwise, it would be Hawaii.
  9. Where do you stand on ugly Christmas sweaters? Yay or nay? They're hilarious for parties.
  10. What is our favorite post that you have written? I don't know...the marriage one from Monday was pretty popular. Another popular one was the plaid shirt post. Surprisingly, that is listed as number 2 overall. You all must love some plaid shirts! ;-)
  11. Weekly calendar – do you start yours on Sunday or Monday? Sunday

11 facts about me that you may not know......

1. I was a high school cheerleader and gymnast and then played rugby in college.
2. My lifelong dream was to be a performer on Broadway.
3. I've played the role of "Laurie" in Oklahoma, four times.
4. I'm really sensitive and have my feelings hurt easily. But usually I won't tell the person and I'll just find a way to move on.
5. I would love to have an even larger family, if time and finances were unlimited.
6. Being pregnant and giving birth are my most favorite times of my life. I would be a surrogate if our state would allow it.
7. I love candy, but am not much of a fan of chocolate or desserts. Mostly just chewy, sour or gummy candies.
8. I don't ever forget a birthday or important day and do my best to text, call, or send a message to people on those days.
9. I love to cook and wish I had more time to do it.
10. I'm a perfectionist and am really hard on myself if I make a mistake.
11. I still think my husband is really cute. Like really, really, really cute. =)



Tomorrow will be my last Thankful Thursday post and a Thanksgiving wrap-up. I hope you have a blessed time with your families. It's one of my very favorite holidays because it's all about getting together with the people you love, with no strings attached. There are no expectations and no gifts. Just fellowship, food and family.
 
XOXO

Monday, November 24, 2014

The reality of marriage

A few weeks back, I asked for suggestions on my Facebook page, as to future posts. It seemed the most popular suggestion was to write about marriage. Yikes. I am by no means an expert, but I am happy to share what works for us and maybe you'll find some tidbit that you can make work in your marriage, too.

First of all, we made it! Football season is over and we both came out smiling. Because my husband is the most humble man on the planet, (Not kidding, ask anyone that knows him!) I will brag for a minute. When they took over the football program 4 years ago, the team had been 0-19 in the previous seasons. Things weren't good. Over the past 4 years, with a ton of support and dedication from many parties, the team has improved a ton. This year, they were undefeated in league! Unbelievable!! They were the champs of their division and have so much to be proud of. The crazy thing about the game of football is that it can end so abruptly. They lost in their first round playoff game, and just like that, the season was done. It feels a little like being cheated, having not lost a game until that point, to just be done. But that's how it is, and we are choosing to focus on the fact that the season was amazing and they left it all on the field. No regrets.


And I guess why I brought that up, is because football most definitely impacts our marriage. Although I love many things about football season, and I know it makes Adam SO happy, it is a tiring and long season. I think the impact it has on our marriage is the hardest. We get to a point where we feel like ships passing in the night. Instead of spending time together, we are handing kids off, driving kids around, organizing this, calling back that and it is hard. Really, really hard.

The good news is, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There are monetary reasons why being a teacher can be challenging, but nothing beats a teacher's schedule and hours. Now that football is over, it's hard to know what to do with ourselves. It's almost like re-learning our relationship. For the kids, too! Instead of him walking in the door at bedtime, now it's before dinner. He is coaching girls' basketball at the junior high, but the hours are a lot better and he's home by 4:30pm! When that's over, it will be 3pm! Bonus.

But, back to marriage. It's hard.

There are times of ups and downs, highs and lows. But, in the end, we both entered into marriage knowing that it was forever...in sickness and in health, till death do us part. With the mentality that no matter what, we would stick together.

Marriage isn't something romanticized, like you see on tv. It's real and it's raw and it's full of emotion and heartache, and times where you feel like giving up. But, knowing that isn't an option for us, makes us work harder.

Sometimes I think social media makes marriage seem fake, too. Couples take pictures of themselves and write posts about their love. And I'm sure they are all great and all, but the reality is, people aren't posting when times are tough. When their marriage isn't full of rose petals and sunny beaches. And when others read and see those posts, it makes them feel like a failure because that's not what marriage looks like 90% of the time. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my husband with 110% of my heart, but marriage is hard work for us. It's putting each other first, when it's not always the easy choice. And making sacrifices on a daily basis. If you took pictures of us regularly, it wouldn't be pretty most of the time. ;-)
 
 
However, it will be eleven years next month and I feel more solid in our marriage than ever before. When we first met on our blind date, one of the things that I loved about him was how much we had in common. We joked that we were the male and female versions of the same person. Many mutual friends, common interests and similar values and beliefs. We really do love so much of the same that it's fun to spend time together. He loves that I love sports, and I love that he loves babies. ;-) We both love Jesus. Family is our favorite and traveling and spending time together is the best. Although we have many similarities, we are opposites in some ways, too. I'm more assertive and strong willed, while he is more passive and easy going. The best part is that we tend to compliment each other in most situations. He talks me off my ledge while I give him strength in his uncertainty. And while some of the things about each other drive us nuts, I think we both appreciate that we can find strength in our weaknesses.

Here is what works in our marriage and helps to keep the spark alive:

1) Learn each other's love languages. I'm serious, if you haven't read the book "The Five Love Languages", I want you to stop what you are doing, get on Amazon and get this book ordered, stat! Or just click HERE. We had to read it as part of our "pre-marital counseling" with our pastor and it was a game changer. The crazy thing is that we are the same love language.....words of affirmation. This means that we feel love the most, through words. Giving compliments, taking time to talk and listen and being encouraging are the best ways we can show each other love. If your spouse isn't the same love language, it's important to learn what theirs is, and try to practice it as much as possible. We tend to give love in the way we best receive it, so chances are, you either need to adjust the way you give, or work harder to show love in their love language.

2) Make time for each other. This is hard. Oh so hard! Adam and I almost never get out, just the two of us. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the amount of times we've gone on a date in the past year. Childcare is our biggest hurdle and, to be honest, with the expense of a babysitter, we often just opt out of date nights because by the time we pay for dinner and a movie, along with the cost of a babysitter for 4, we might as well have taken the kids for an overnight stay in Seattle! Kidding. Sort of. There are ways to spend alone time together at home. We put our kids to bed early. It's something we've always done because we value having our evenings with each other. We have a handful of shows we both like on TV, or we'll sit and chat with a tub of popcorn and glass of wine. Kind of feels like a real date. ;-) When we are watching something together, we institute the "no electronics" rule, so we aren't playing on our phones or computers. This helps us focus on each other.

3) Have open communication. When something is frustrating you, instead of bottling it up and being passive aggressive, tell your partner. In the same respect, when they have done something great, praise them!! Focus on the positives, even if they seem minor! Send a sweet text, write a note for their lunch, leave a card on the nightstand...whatever!

4) Praise in public, criticize in private. This has been the motto of our marriage and one of the best pieces of advice our pastor gave us. The world doesn't need to know your complaints with each other. You should be the first to praise and compliment your spouse. And when you think they are wrong, wait until you are in private to say it. I love to talk about how much I love Adam. I think he's the best husband, dad and person I know. Sure, there are things that drive me crazy, but I don't share them with the world....that's between he and I.

5) Have a life outside of each other. I can't tell you how important this is! We love spending time together, but I think it's made even sweeter when we've been apart, too. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. We both have separate groups of friends that we like to spend time with, away from each other. We do not have a co-dependent relationship and I'm thankful for that. We even support each other when one wants to take a weekend away, or even a vacation with friends. I've gone on trips to Arizona, California and multiple overnights in our state, while he's gone to Texas, California and Oregon. Time away from one another makes us realize that we love being together. And gives us a chance to strengthen our friendships, which are a super important part of life.

6) TRUST! If you don't have trust in your marriage, you've got some work to do. I trust Adam with 100% of my heart. We have built our relationship on that foundation and have never done anything to waiver that trust. I don't question him when he's meeting up with a friend, or making a phone call. When you have that trust, it makes your relationship feel like a place of safety and security.

7) Get involved in each others lives. Ask questions about what they are interested in and support them in their endeavors. I love Adam because he's really good about doing this with me. Daily, he'll ask me about my blog and what I'm writing about. We talk about my friends (in a good way!) and some of my favorite activities. In the same way, I'll talk football with him or let him talk to me about his coaching responsibilities. Know your partner's interests and hobbies. And even if they completely bore you, offer to do something that they love, just for the heck of it!

Above all....

Love each other.
 
Honor your wedding vows and put your partner's needs before yourself.
 
And even when you are angry with one another (because it WILL happen), try to be the bigger person.
 
Apologize often.
 
And don't ever stop telling them how much you love them.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Chef Brett makes Snickerdoodles!

Chef Brett has had a few busy weeks with school, wrestling practice, Awana and family time. However, he was itching to get back in the kitchen, and we figured today was the perfect day. A rainy and windy fall day, is what the snickerdoodle cookie is made for! =)

 
 
This is a super easy, kid-friendly recipe. And I'm not kidding when I say these are AMAZING! I've already had three. Don't tell.
 
Ingredients:
1.5 cups sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
 
Topping Ingredients:
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
 
 
Directions:
 
Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine sugar and butter, beat until light and fluffy.
Add vanilla and eggs; blend well. Add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt; mix well. In a small bowl, combine the toppings ingredients--sugar and cinnamon. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in the topping mixture. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. Immediately remove from cookie sheet.




 

 
Brett accidentally did equal parts sugar and cinnamon, which is why his cookies turned out so dark brown. They were super good that way, though!!



 
I'm serious. These are incredible!! We made them slightly bigger than the recipe stated, but they'd easily make 2 dozen if you kept them true to size.
 
Hope you enjoy them as much as we did!!
XOXO


Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Favorites: Winter Hats

Before I start on today's post, I have to tell you that the Winter Style Challenge is OPEN!!!! If you've been thinking about taking advantage of this opportunity, wait no more!! I did the fall challenge and it was so great! I learned a lot and hardly had to buy a thing, because a majority of the items were in my closet already. Seriously....sign up HERE! I promise, you won't be disappointed. She's even adding some holiday party wear. I mean, who doesn't need great ideas about that!!?

On to today...

I'm teaming up with a fabulous group of girls for today's blog post! When I saw the topic, I had to chuckle. I'm not much of a hat girl, and for me to tell you about how to fashion/style a hat, feels a little funny. However, I did bust out the few I have, in order to model them for you. Pay no attention to the fact that I'd just finished a workout at the gym and pulled my hair out of a pony tail. It's bad!!

On to hats, though. Here are the 4 that I have and wear the most. They are pretty simple and practical. I really love black because it goes with everything. When buying a hat, I want something cute, but practical. Warmth is important, but I hate itchiness! I really love headband/wraps, but with my hair as short as it is, they aren't my favorite. In a couple months, it will probably be better!
 
 

And now that you've seen the ones I own, I linked up a few that I really love (and might need to purchase). I defninitely think your hairstyle plays a role in determining what hat looks the best. Longer hair tends to photograph better in hats!!
 

Knit Beanie
 
 
Knit Head Wrap
 
 
 Pom Knit Beanie

Happy Friday, friends! If you have a hat that I need to know about, please let me know. Apparently, I need a little more work in the hat department! ;-)

XOXO
 
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