Category Archives: Holidays

Merry Christmas!

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This might be my favorite Christmas card we’ve done and I’m not going to try and top it next year, don’t worry – I know a good thing when I see it. One of the people I work with does these kinds of illustrations and I asked her to do one for us that encompassed our year and our family and she hit it out of the park – I could not have been happier with the final product. Thanks, Mary, you are amazing!
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May your homes be filled with love and laughter this Christmas, and your hearts be filled with child-like wonder as your consider the true gift of Christmas. Blessings and love to you all!

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Our Life Via Instagram

Confession: It took me way too many attempts to correctly type the four-word headline to this post so there will be typos in the following words you read (it also took me three attempts to type “words” – I am winning at blogging today).

Welcome to those of you who got our Christmas card this weekend and thought to check out the bloggity blog – I haven’t been as diligent about posting this year but there is still plenty to read! I also added three new sections: graphic design work samples (in case you are in need of a designer), inspirational artwork I’ve done related to posts on the blog (in case you need some words of wisdom) and information about the laid-back book club I started this fall (in case you like reading, talking, wine and good food – and happen to live locally). And for those of you who didn’t get the card (if you are out of the country – they are still coming, I didn’t have enough foresight to mail them in advance), well, thanks for reading and stopping by – I love having you here and am sending you a virtual hug (and card). Now for the pics – I was very Instagram happy in the last month!
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Bathtime and making rainbow loom bracelets are the two times my boys always get along. Too bad we don’t let them take more baths.


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The boys decided to make George a comfy spot for hanging out… doesn’t every 9-pound dog need a dozen pillows and assorted blankets?


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While I was in the shower, Jack colored his entire hand red… can I just say that from inside the shower red marker does not look much different than blood!


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I purchased this wine for the label. The bird with the hat on reminded me of my father-in-law, who, fittingly, was the bird man for the national parks in Australia.


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My ninja, ever in constant motion.


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The tree outside our front window. My favorite.


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Watchdog, always hoping to see something in the backyard.


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Perfect capture of both their personalities.


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Date night with my main squeeze… sushi, dark beer and Thor. We’re wild and crazy like that.


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Oh Liam, you crack me up.


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Packages from Australia contain LARGE amounts of Vegemite (the jar on the left is the biggest we can get here in the States and costs 2- to 3-times as much as the larger jar on the right).


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Throwback picture to me in high school. I loved a good sweater vest.


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A get together with local-ish fellow “lucky fins,” a.k.a., a room full of kids with various limb differences similar to Jack’s little hand. What a treat to get to meet everyone!


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They love their daddy best.


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The tree just over a week later… winter is coming.


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And winter took out the power… this screen cap was taken on Monday… note they say the power will return by the 21st which was a THURSDAY. Thankfully they are not so great with predicting such things and the power was restored that evening. Now, whenever Liam sees a prediction for bad weather he says he hopes he doesn’t have school again.


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Liam’s hair is its own entity. While Jack can go to bed with wet hair and wake up with it perfectly straight… this is what happens when Liam wears a hat on dry hair for 10 minutes – that’s not static, it’s just a mess.


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Liam and the neighbor boys had to sit at the big table to talk about important club matters. As far as I can tell the club doesn’t do anything but collect dues from anyone who wants to join that is older than 7.


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Jack is also not in the club.


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Someone has a hard time remembering who is in charge.


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My Thanksgiving day game plan.


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How can I ever say no to this face? Well…  I do find it in me, much to his chagrin.


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Pinkie up, hot chocolate on board. I miss our weekly afternoon dates, but the occasional Saturday morning will do me just fine.


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Yes, I talked about Thanksgiving yesterday, but I included this so I could tell you about the Cheeky Churro, the drink pictured in the top right corner… it is just like drinking a delicious churro. Here’s how you make it:
Cheeky Churro
1 oz. Cinnamon Sugar Vodka (Smirnoff)
1/2 oz. Bailey’s with Cinnamon Vanilla
1/2 oz. Triple Sec (or Orange Liqueur)
1/2 oz. light cream/half and half
Shake with ice and serve with a dash of cinnamon.


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The cousins made it through the holiday without being naughty (they define the term double trouble).


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My husband cannot resist cleaning any time I tell him someone is coming over. This is a valued trait, but has a tendency to drive me batty.


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Duplos can still provide entertainment.


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This kid can turn up the pout like nobody’s business. A second prior he was laughing (or “lapping” as he pronounces it) and a second after this he was trying to tackle his brother. Do not fall for the face.


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I adore hearing Liam read out loud to Jack (or out loud in general). These moments erase so many of the frustrating ones (not all, mind you, but many).


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I ordered our cards back in October with grand plans to have them ready well before Thanksgiving so I could mail them on time because for once I had a goal of beating my childhood friend, Crista, to the punch with sending out cards (her’s is always the first one I get) and lo, her’s arrived Wednesday and mine still needed mailing labels on them.


Thursday Randoms (post-Thanksgiving edition)

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  • I for real hosted Thanksgiving this year and it went surprisingly well… no big drama, unless you count the brining bag bursting open the night before when I (as directed) tried to turn the turkey over in the liquid to ensure even brine distribution. I mean it’s not ideal to have to sop up 4 gallons of aromatic liquid but on the plus side, I hadn’t yet cleaned my kitchen so it just moved up that task by a few hours. It also wasn’t on my Thanksgiving Day checklist but Simon helpfully added it for me. Though I want it noted that I did NOT drop the bag… it exploded in my sink and again on the counter. Clearly my 29 pound turkey was asking too much of a bag with a 25 pound capacity.

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  • It was an early morning… and I just had to get over the whole touching a formerly living but now dead bird. But really… still gross.
  • Funny story: When I was pulling the pieces out of the bird after bringing it home, I removed the neck from the body cavity and Liam instantly asked, “Do turkeys have penises?” I could not help but laugh.

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  • And though it got done two hours early (the Internet failed me with its handy timetables), it turned out pretty perfectly and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Though if that size bird is in our future again, I might have to get a larger pan… this one was at capacity. For reference, I highly recommend soaking cheesecloth in melted butter and white wine and then wrapping all that deliciousness around your bird and basting it again every 30 minutes. Cheesecloth is not something I have ever had a need to buy but it made for one moist (ick – worst word ever) and scrumptious bird… and I’m not just saying that, I hope my dinner guests would concur. My gravy, on the other hand, could have used some help… it was a little anorexic.

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  • Even George got to enjoy the turkey the next day when, after we carved up the rest of the turkey to make soup stock, I put up on the counter and let him go crazy with all the pieces we hadn’t yet washed up. Doesn’t everyone have a counter-sized dog? Don’t worry – I thoroughly cleaned the counter post puppy snacking, I have standards.

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  • We did not really do Black Friday shopping, at least not like we have done in the past. Simon went out at 9 p.m. to Target for some movies and my beloved Vampire Diaries season on DVD (only $10 – an annual deal) and the next morning we went out and bought a mattress because ours is embarrassingly old…
  • We are now the proud owners of a bed that is almost too big for our bedframe. I feel like I am sleeping on a throne. Poor George has to take a running leap at the bed and even then he doesn’t make it to the top but can at least scramble his little paws and pull himself the rest of the way up. This might be the thing that he ends up hating us for in his old age (he’ll be 9 in April), first the children that never leave and now a bed that he’s bound to break a hip getting onto or off of (scratch that, I won’t let him jump down on his own, the height of the leap almost ensures a face plant in his near future).
  • But for real, is the mattress not comically large? Our old (albeit very old) mattress only reach the top of the inside circle on the foot board of of our bedframe – a good 6-8 inches below where it is now. We are literally moving up in the world.

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  • And, unrelated to anything Thanksgiving, a text exchange from watching The Voice results show… we were not pleased with the person America voted to save. (hint: one of the ladies).

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The most wonderful time of the year

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It is December. I feel equal parts prepared and unprepared. I have been purchasing gifts on Amazon on a daily basis and stuffing the boxes that come a few days later into one of our front closets… furiously shouting at the children to look away whenever I open the accordion doors keeping all the treasures at bay. I need to assess where I am sometime soon, for all my advanced shopping, I am fearful I going to end up scrambling the week before Christmas because I have forgotten someone important (not you, Simon, you are taken care of… also, stay OUT of the front closet).

We decorated the house for Christmas over the weekend, putting up more Christmas lights than we ever have before thanks to the many handy indoor and outdoor plugs that are everywhere around the “new” house. Yesterday afternoon I wrapped the bannister going downstairs in garland and lights and when Simon got home he said, “I see Christmas threw up on the stairway.” What a scrooge.

I think I am a closet Christmas-aholic, I just never lived up to my potential in previous years but the “new” house as brought it out in me – I nearly gave in an got an Elf on the Shelf for the boys, but I held back because we already have an advent calendar (Star Wars Lego from last year), an advent book and Christmas books that we read daily but I was almost won over by the cute postures and posts I saw on Instagram. I’m not trying to be an overachiever, but cashing in on a little Christmas wonder is a beautiful thing.

I have so many happy memories of the season from my childhood and I hope my kids will as well. I hope they remember fondly playing with their Little People Nativity, their small tree all their own on their dresser, the glee of opening the advent calendar each morning and reading the real story of Christmas from our Advent book each evening.

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Jesus’ birth brings us the ultimate reason for the season and we need to remember not to forget that in the hustle and bustle. It also gives us the opportunity to celebrate the wonder and joy beyond the religious in our every day lives. Nothing beats the warm glow of Christmas lights in a quiet, still house. A glass of egg nog or a mug of hot cocoa shared with friends. Annual gatherings of friends, neighbors, co-workers and family that just don’t happen the rest of the year. Making Christmas goodies and treats to be shared with the important people in our lives. All because a tiny baby was born one holy night, giving us the greatest gift on earth… faith and salvation.

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If you like the artwork above, you can purchase your own here.

The most wonderful time of the year

Since Thanksgiving we have been busy, busy, busy – it seems everyone wanted to get Christmas gatherings planned before the true crush of Christmas which strangely leaves me with nothing “official” for next week, a week when I would normally be super busy. This might actually mean I will get my holiday baking and goodie making done and presents wrapped prior to the night before we leave for Lansing. Don’t get me wrong, we still have a couple things planned, but no parties (except a small group get together I have misguidedly called “Adult Themed Small Group Christmas Party” on the calendar in my phone – no idea why I would call it that; we are just having a sit down meal without kids, nothing risque about it, as my title would suggest). I love this season because I am a social creature, I like spending time with people.

Despite loving the season, I still I feel the busy-ness of this time of year, it leaves my head spinning and me wondering what I am missing. I remembered that at this time last year, we were getting ready to move our office and preparing for our upcoming trip to Australia. How did I manage to stay sane last year? (Answer: the grace of God, plain and simple.) I asked my co-worker if I was crazed last year and she said, “Actually, I remember commenting to my husband about how laid back you were about everything.” Phew… I am definitely the “good in a crisis” girl. Though, being good in times of stress doesn’t mean there isn’t some debris left in my wake, but that debris is mostly contained to my own home – literally and figuratively (sorry, Simon). [It also means that we don’t normally put up a Christmas tree because then I have to add “take down Christmas tree” to my list of to-dos for January, which is the time I normally use for crashing and slothdom (because even a party-loving girl needs some downtime). But this year, we did it, we put up a tree and I realized how much I loved doing it growing up and I’m glad we can give that memory to our kids and I do promise to put up a tree from now on. Scout’s honor.]

In the midst of the busy-ness, we are taking time to drive home the reason for the season, to make sure that our kids are celebrating Jesus’ birth more than they are asking for presents from us (and everyone else, including, Santa – it’s an ongoing “battle”). On Kim’s wonderful suggestion, we purchased The Advent Book last year and my boys LOVE reading it every day (Liam opens the odd-numbered doors and Jack opens the evens). In the season where we can focus so much on “take, take, take” I want my kids to remember it’s as much (if not more) about giving as it is receiving. They get the message of receiving pound into their little brains everywhere they look, our job is to counter that message with the one that points to the manager and the giving of gifts to others. We can celebrate the season by honoring both the spirit of generosity and the discipline of graceful receiving. We are recipients of gifts that we did not earn but that are given because we are loved so much by the giver of those gifts – whether they come in swaddling clothes or pretty wrapping paper.

I love Christmas because it is a season of get-togethers and togetherness – of family and friends, and traditions new and old. And I love that, to me, as a Christian, it celebrates my Savior’s birth, giving reason and meaning to this life here on earth and I give gifts to others to honor that celebration and love.

Source: dayspring.com via Michelle on Pinterest