Monthly Archives: December 2013

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monday’s list

me + Chloe selfie. Annie, MiMaw’s pug. Project Life 2014 first page cards are in the album!

Christmas morning. What a blessing to wake in our cozy warm home with power back on after the ice storm outage. The kids actually slept until after 8, which surprised me. They are usually up at daybreak begging to open gifts. It was a nice time together. The kids loved all their gifts. The center picture below cracks me up and I’m so glad I captured it. This is the face Chloe got when opening several of her gifts. She looked like she was so insulted by the gift, but it was immediately followed by “This is exactly what I wanted!” Such a funny reaction.

Christmas dinner. Since my parents were without power through Christmas (they actually didn’t get power back until the Friday after Christmas), I was put in charge of making dinner and transporting it over to their house. Nothing too difficult. Ham in the crock pot overnight. I made corn, mashed potatoes and rolls the morning of and we got everything there nice and hot for our meal. When we arrived, Mom had made gravy and Stove Top stuffing by heating water over one of their furnace vents that gets nice and hot. It totally worked. haha!

Gift exchange. We had a fun time exchanging gifts. This was the first year in their new family room addition. It was a bit chilly with just the wood furnace going, so we all kept warm under blankets. It was interesting with no electricity this year. No lights on the Christmas tree or around the house. But we were all there together and that’s all that mattered.

top row: Santa’s elf. Chloe in her new pj’s from Grandma. Jake said he wanted a puppy for Christmas, so this is what he got – a stuffed labradoodle named Karina.
bottom row: My new Converse One Stars from my hubby. Zach and Uncle Rick staying warm. Chloe under wrapping paper. ;)

Visiting MiMaw. On Friday, we traveled to Port Huron to drop the kids off with MiMaw and Poppi for a few days. It’s been kind of nice having some time together, just the two of us, no kids.

Date night. We went out to dinner and a movie for the first time in months. Finally saw Catching Fire, which was excellent, by the way. Did a little shopping with Christmas money I had to spend. Got page protectors for my 2014 Project Life album and bought a Nutribullet. Loving that thing so far. Very easy to use.

Project Life. Spent some time putting cards in the Project Life album. First page and title cards are loaded. Excited to get started and also to share more of my album this year as I go along. Not sure I’ll be able to keep up with sharing my pages every week, but I will be sharing more as the weeks go by.

one little word. Thinking about my word from this year – know – and what my word for 2014 will be. I’ll blog about that here very soon.

wonderful chaos

That’s how I would describe this photo. Wonderful chaos. The great grandkids opening all their gifts all at once. Love my family. If only Grandpa and Grandma could have been there to witness it all.

It was a wonderful time together, as always. Delicious meal, lots of laughs, kids running around like crazies, girls doing gymnastics, boys wrestling, exchanging gifts. Just enjoying Christmas together. <3

just another date?

I had sort of a weird couple days last week. Just feeling overly annoyed at everything. Snapping at my family. Feeling very antsy. Couldn’t quite put my finger on what was bugging me until I looked at the calendar. I’ve always been one to remember dates and when certain ones roll around they affect me and sometimes I don’t even realize it’s happening. It was one of those dates.

It was a beginning. The beginning. Not an unhappy day in my history, just a reminder of what came later, a reminder that things don’t always work out how you plan, that sometimes things end. And sometimes you lose more than a relationship, you lose a friend. It was a long friendship that finally brought us together, but the ending was just too painful for that friendship to survive.

Would we still be friends now if the events of that date had gone differently? I don’t know. What would life look like now if we had stayed “just friends”? Only God knows.

One thing I do know is that as these dates bring old feelings and emotions to the surface, I need to embrace them. I’m praying that God will help me to deal with them and let them out of that place where they’ve been locked away for far too long, so maybe the next time I see that date on the calendar, it won’t bother me so much.

Merry Christmas to you!

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas as we remember the reason for this day …
celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. <3

Merry freezing Christmas

Phew! What a crazy couple of days we’ve had. On Saturday night, we were hit with a bad ice storm. Lying in bed at night, it sounded like guns were being fired outside, but it was tree branch after tree branch cracking from the weight of the ice. We had a couple smaller branches come down between our house and the neighbors and a pretty good size branch fell in our front yard. Thankfully no damage to our home.

However, on Sunday morning around 7:30am, as we were getting ready to travel to Ohio for a family Christmas, the power flickered on and off a couple times and then went out for good. :(

We went ahead with our plans and went to Ohio for the day, hoping our power would be restored before we arrived home. Sadly, it was not. So, we packed up some clothes and blankets and pillows and headed to my parents house, who also did not have power, but have a wood furnace. Our house ended up getting down to 38 degrees after two days with no heat.

It was an interesting time, eating dinner by candlelight, playing games, watching a movie on Jake’s laptop, charging our phones in the car. Even curled my hair in the car so I would be presentable to go finish up our Christmas shopping. ;)

When you are so used to living with something and then it’s taken away, it’s difficult to adapt. Even for a couple days. We take these everyday luxuries for granted. By this morning, I was starting to get really antsy. We came home to shower (thank God we have city water and a gas water heater) even though the house was nearing the freezing point and, while we were here, the lights suddenly came on. It was like a party around here, we were so overjoyed. Especially since our estimate for power restoration was Thursday at 11:30pm.

We are very thankful to all the energy companies that sent workers and trucks to our area. They say this is the worst ice storm we’ve had here in about ten years. Not fun, but it sure was pretty out there.

Praying for all the family and friends in the area who are still without power. Very thankful that we will be able to sleep in our own beds tonight in a cozy warm house and have Christmas here in the morning.

What a story this will be for the Project Life album. ;)

Florida 2013

As promised, here are some favorites from Florida taken with my digital SLR camera (the original Canon 5D) and my 85mm 1.8 lens. The first is the ceiling at the T-Rex restaurant in Downtown Disney. Fun atmosphere. Very loud in there, though, and pricey, but very good food.

Our sweet nieces. <3

I love this shot of my beautiful girl. It was one of those “Hey Chloe!” shots. Sometimes those make for the best pictures.

OK. This was seriously fun. Fantasy Land at the Magic Kingdom has been remodeled over the past couple years. They now have this fun “Enchanted Tales with Belle”, where they take groups of a couple dozen people through at a time and there is audience participation to put on a “show” for Belle after you travel back in time to the night she and the Beast fell in love. It’s adorable. Here are our brave knights, Jeff and Jake, along with Belle’s father Maurice locked in the dungeon (that’s Chloe behind bars) and Scarlett growled the loudest, so she got to wear the red cape and be the Beast. It was so cute. And so fun that so many of our family got picked for the show.

The castle. Day and night.

If you have never been to Disney in December, I highly recommend it. Everything is decorated for Christmas. They have a special Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party on certain evenings (cost is separate from park admission) with free cocoa & cookies throughout the park, a Christmas parade, Illuminations show on the castle and holiday fireworks. Plus, there are a limited number of people in the park because it runs from 7-midnight and all the regular guests have to leave the park when it closes at 7, so the lines for rides are almost nonexistent. It’s a lot of fun.

From the Illuminations show. The balloons from Up and my very favorite part of Tangled – the lantern scene.

And since this makes me happy, I thought I’d share the lantern scene from Tangled. Pretty pretty pretty. Music. Lanterns. Love it all.

Happy weekend, everyone!

pretzel hugs

Spent my morning making lots of these little beauties. Salty sweet goodness! Unfortunately, they are all for Chloe’s Christmas party at school and gymnastics. I may or may not have taste-tested one. ;)

These are super easy to make, so I thought I’d share how.

What you need:
Snyders Pretzel Snaps
Hershey’s Hugs – (don’t use plain chocolate kisses, they don’t melt right)
M&M’s – plain milk chocolate
Large cookie sheet
Wax paper or parchment to line your cookie sheet

– Get as many of the above ingredients as you want to make. I had a 1lb. bag of the pretzels, a couple bags of Hugs and a bag of M&Ms and that yielded 135 with lots of pretzels and M&Ms left over. Must go pick up some more Hugs! ;)
– Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
– Place one hug on top of each pretzel.
– Bake for about 4 minutes. This will depend on your oven. Just watch them until they start to look shiny and soft, but don’t let them melt all the way down.
– Remove from oven and press one M&M into each melted hug.
– Let the pan sit for about 5 minutes or so until it’s cool to the touch, then put it in the refrigerator to cool for about 5-10 minutes.
– I didn’t have wax or parchment paper on hand, so some of mine stuck to the pan. I just whacked it on the counter and they popped off. I recommend the wax paper. :D

Taking the wrappers off the hugs and putting them on top of the pretzels takes more time than it actually takes to bake them.

Voila! A very simple (and tasty) treat!

Merry Christmas!


When we went to Florida a couple years ago with Jake’s family, I took over 1,200 photos, all with my digital SLR. I didn’t have an iPhone back then, but for this trip, I did. And I used it. A lot. The ratio of pictures I took with my iPhone to ones taken with my SLR was about 2:1. I took almost 400 photos with my SLR and a little over 800 with my iPhone. The only park I took my big camera to was the Magic Kingdom. I relied on the iPhone for all my photos at the Universal parks since it’s smaller and more convenient and I didn’t need to lug a camera bag around with me all day. And I think it captured our days perfectly, as you will see below.

All photos were taken with an iPhone 5 and edited using Totally Rad Actions for Photoshop.

A rare moment with my boy. He asked me to take this. I think he liked this side street as much as I did (at Universal Studios).

Our non-coaster-riding guys tried out the test seats at the Dragon Challenge ride (Universal Islands of Adventure). This is about as close as they will ever get to riding a roller coaster.

A couple girls liked their butter beer.

You can’t see it very well (right), but Scarlett’s shirt has “one fish, two fish” on it, which is why we took the pic by this ride at Seuss Landing (Islands of Adventure).

Loved the crooked palm tree.

Next up … digital SLR Florida. ;)

a glimpse

Lots of black and white on our Christmas cards this year. Just a little peek at the patterns. Had some custom cards made this year with our photos. Those can get expensive if you have to order a lot of cards, so I decided to get just enough for family and friends, then I picked up two boxes of cards at Target for others (Jake’s bosses and work colleagues, etc.). Love all of the Green Inspired line at Target. Spending the day addressing envelopes. Then I’ll be off to the post office to buy stamps and get these cards in the mail.

Our mail has been a little more bulky lately with all the wonderful Christmas cards coming in from family and friends. I’ve been tucking them between the branches of our Christmas tree this year and it makes me happy to see their smiling faces every time I walk by.

monday’s list

• We are home from Florida and already wishing we were back beside the pool in the warm sun. Everything is covered in inches upon inches of snow that fell while we were away.

• This week for me will be all about Christmas shopping and Chloe’s parties for both school and gymnastics. Tomorrow, I will set out with list in hand and try to get some things crossed off.

• Winter break begins at the end of this week for the kids (and me!). Kind of nice to have a vacation and then only a week of school before two weeks off.

• Lots of family time coming up! Our immediate family as well as extended family Christmases. Looking forward to that.

• Running in the snow will be happening, too. I’ve never done it before, but it’s going to be a part of our training for the River Bank Run. Oh joy!

• Feeling thankful for all the new friends who have stopped by here via Becky’s blog. I can’t say thank you enough.

2014 is going to be a fun year. :)

AJAXed with AWP