Christmas 2012

We had such a relaxed, laid back Christmas this year and it was just what i we needed!  The baby has his first cold and its a doozy and he was sweet enough to share it with me. (but seriously? he's 17 months old & just now has his 1st cold! not bad!)  So, i'm sick.  Again. UGH!  But anyway....i was so grateful that we weren't traveling or away from home and that we didn't have any big plans!
On Christmas Eve, we always take time to pull out our Bibles and read the Christmas story.  This has become one of my favorite parts of our family tradition ~ it just helps us refocus on what we are really celebrating!  Then the boys open 1 gift, which is usually pj's & something fun!  This year the big boys got pj's & a hot cocoa set and Dylan got pj's and a book!
the big boys took turns reading the Christmas story this year!

opening Christmas eve gifts.

in their Christmas eve pj's ~ LOVE them!
Christmas morning we all get up and the boys all have to wait and head out to the living room together to see if Santa came! Colby is such a good big brother and still plays along with his little brothers! =)  We let the boys see what Santa brought and look in their stockings and then we separate the gifts and take turns opening them! 
Santa came!!

here they come....

he saw his gift from santa & took off running!! =)

checking it all out!

he found a "man" (aka spider man) in his stocking & was excited about it!

opening his 1st gift ~ he would tear a piece of paper off, run and throw it away & repeat! ha! it took a while for him to finish opening his gifts! ;)

cannot believe this guy is in middle school ~ so blessed to be his mom!

oh how this boy brings me so much joy! i'm so very blessed!

We are so blessed in so many ways, but the greatest blessing of all is the gift God sent all those years ago when Christ was born.  To know Christ as my Savior and to have a personal relationship with Him is easily the best gift i've ever received!  The ultimate gift that keeps giving ~ giving peace & joy & love ~ how sweet it is! 
I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas and that you were each blessed with the love of family and the peace of Christ! Hugs!
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
~John 3:16~


Merry Christmas!!

I wish i could send everyone a card but since i can't, here's the next best thing.....
Wishing each of you a very merry Christmas full of family, love, peace & joy!!
...."Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
~Luke 2:10&11~


'Tis the Season

I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that Christmas is only 5 days away!  This holiday season has flown by!!  I love everything about the holiday season, especially the decor!  Here is some of my favorite Christmas decor in our home....
i've been looking for a fun way to display our cards & found this card tree this year!  i love it!!

bookshelf in the living room ~ my FAVE holiday scentsy warmer & Christmas carol canvases that i got here!!  Love them!!

other living room bookshelf ~ seriously LOVE my canvases!!

our tree. a certain super cute toddler has made keeping it picture perfect almost impossible but for this season of our lives, its perfect.  =) (and i've yet to find something to top the tree that i love. the search continues....)

our mantle.  evenings with the only light being the mantle & tree glow are my FAVE!!

I'm off to make the most of these last few days of the holiday season!!  Hope each of you are cherishing this special time of year with your family & friends!
By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.
~Proverbs 24:3&4~


Christmas Fun!

We had a very full, very fun couple of days last weekend! Almost too much fun if thats possible ~ a certain little someone's sleep schedule got VERY thrown off and we are kinda paying for it a little now, but sometimes, its worth it!
On Friday night we headed downtown to the Blue Wahoos stadium for their Winter Wonderland!  The boys had so much fun!!  There was ice skating, a HUGE slide, bouncy house, games, hot chocolate & the guy in the big red suit!!  It was a laid back, good time!  We finished off the night at Krispy Kreme!!

dylan has been SO interested in Santa & its really cute!

my family ~ i'm blessed!

this lil guy is SO fun!

all of my favorite guys playing cornhole

the big boys LOVED this huge slide!

colby looks SO grown up to me in this pic. slow down time!

these 2 love their hot cocoa! =)
On saturday morning, we had a birthday party to go to and the kids jumped in a bouncy house for hours!  Then we ran home and put the baby down for a nap and then we were back out the door to meet friends and head to Bellingrath Gardens Magic Christmas in Lights.  Bellingrath is a little bit of a drive but none of us had been since we've lived here and we've all heard how great it is, so we figured why not?? 
Well...i am quite sure that it is a great experience if you go on a night other than saturday so close to christmas. We traveled the first 75 miles in about an hour and a half.  The last 2 miles?  Took 45 minutes. 45 minutes to go 2 miles.  The kids were already restless and on edge before we even got in the gate!  Then??  It must have been leave your manners at home day, because about 80% of the people there had NONE.  And there was far more people there than the place is really set up to handle.  {sigh}  We did our best to enjoy it but it sure wasn't easy and i was really bummed because i had SO looked forward to it. 
John & Me ~ LOVE him!

So blessed to do life with wonderful friends!

one of tons of light displays!  it really was an impressive & beautiful set up!

so not a great pic but it was tough with the crowd to get good ones!  this was the "under the sea" display!

so blessed to be surrounded by such handsome dudes always! =) (this was like already an hour past dylan's bed time so don't mind the shoes off/half pulled off socks look ~ i promise he started off with shoes! ha!)
In the end, there were memories made.  Memories that we will all look back at and laugh at how CRAZY the whole thing was, and even though it didn't work out the way i thought it would or wanted it to, it's always great to be out making memories w/ my family & friends!
Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
~Psalm 25:4&5~


Menu Monday

The countdown is on ~ 8 days until Christmas!!  The excitement level in our house is rising every day!!!  Here's what will fuel the fun this week!!
Monday: Ranch Chicken w/ Roasted Red Potatoes (this one didn't happen last night)
Tuesday: Crockpot Creamy Italian Chicken over Rice w/ Broccoli
Wednesday: Taco Pasta
Thursday: Hawaiian Chicken w/ Rice & Pineapple
Friday: Pizza for kids & babysitter/ Spicy Spinach Dip for a party John & I are going to!!!
Saturday: Spaghetti w/ Garlic Bread
Sunday: Lazy Man's Mix
We're also going to be doing lots of baking for our cookie boxes!  We will be delivering boxes of goodies to neighbors and friends the end of the week!!  This year our cookie boxes will include:
Frosted Butter Cookies
Chocolate Chip Cookies &
Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
Fun Fun Fun!!!  Hope everyone is cherishing the magic of the season & marveling at the true meaning of Christmas!! 
My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Trust in Him at all times oh people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.
~Psalm 62:7&8~

A Couple Recipes for Ya!

Crockpot Creamy Italian Chicken
1-lb boneless/skinless chicken breast, cubed
1- packet dry italian seasoning
1- can cream of mushroom soup
1- soup can of water
1- chicken bouillon cube
1- pkg (8oz) cream cheese, cubed
Mix everything in crockpot and cook on low for 4-6 hour.  Serve over pasta or rice!
super easy & really good!!
Peppermint Puff Cookies
2 C. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C. unsalted butter @ room temp
1 C. powdered sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz. white chocolate candy melts melted w/
1tsp. shortening
1/2 C. finely chopped candy canes (bust out the food processor!)
Stir together flour & salt. In your stand mixer, beat butter & sugar in a large bowl until smooth & creamy.  Beat in egg and then peppermint and vanilla.  On low speed, beat in flour mixture.  Shape dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate 1 hour.
Heat oven to 350. Coat baking sheets w/ Pam. Grab dough from fridge and shape into 1in. balls.  Place on baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned.  Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.
When cookies are almost cool, melt your chocolate & shortening in the microwave or double boiler.  Put your chopped candy canes in a small bowl.  Dip top of each cookie into melted white chocolate and then immediately into crushed candy canes.  Let harden on wax paper & enjoy!!
**these cookies are like a shortbread type of cookie and are SO good!  Not super sweet at all but very tasty!**


Favorite Ornaments

I just thought i would share a few of my favorite Christmas ornaments with all of you!!  I love how something so simple can stir so much emotion and bring back so many memories!  I don't have very many sentimental ones, but the ones i have are so special to get out every year!

a family ornament from the year brayden was born!

this is a picture of brayden & colby etched on a plastic ornament! its cheap, thin plastic but i LOVE it!
this one was the gift for us that brayden's teacher helped them make at school last year! the snowmen are made w/ his little fingerprints!!  it was such a thoughtful, fun idea and i just love it!

our family ornament including dylan! notice it says 2012...oops! i totally should've gotten it last year but we didn't put up a tree and i totally forgot!

We also get an ornament for each of the boys every year that somehow relates to them for that year!  When they are little, we choose the ornament.  As they get older we let them choose!  We write their name & the year on them and my plan is to give each of them a box of their ornaments when they get married!  I'm not one to keep lots of nick knacks or paintings they do, etc. but i do save a small number of special things for them and this is one of them!! =)  I hope their ornaments are a fun way for them, when they are grown, to remember our Christmas's as a family!
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and i am helped. My heart leaps for joy and i will give thanks to him in song.
~Psalm 28:7~


Holiday Fun!

I had such a great weekend full of lots of holiday fun!! 
On friday night was our church's women's ministry "Sisterhood Christmas Party"!  I'm on the women's ministry team and blessed to serve on the hospitality team with some of the funnest ladies/friends!!  We had a great time and the party turned out better than we could have hoped!!
There was....
cute sign! and yes...there was massage stations & a fun photo booth!

the photo booth w/ lots of fun props!!

hot cocoa bar!

LOTS of sweet treats! this was one of 2 dessert bars!

the BEST punch. it was SO good!!

and this would be the fabulous team i am blessed to serve alongside!! (and we had a nacho bar too....see the cheese in the fondue fountain?!  so FUN!)

Then on saturday we spent some time relaxing as a family and then headed out to dinner with plans to go the Christmas parade afterwards.  During dinner we changed our minds and decided to go check out our favorite spot for christmas lights instead!

us at dinner! 

they had a cute little train to ride on thru the lights! and this is someone's house ~ SO CRAZY!!
here we go....this lights set up is crazy AMAZING!!
 another house just down the street! this one has a path all the way around the back of the house to walk and its full of light displays!!
you know you're in the south when.... ;)
and my favorite...santa mooning us to say Happy Holidays!! =)

We are having so much fun celebrating the holidays this year!!  And as of this morning the weather decided to get with the program and get cold, so now it actually feels like Christmas!!  Hope you are all having a wonderful week!

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
~Psalm 95:1~


Menu Monday

We've had such a fun weekend but it went by way too fast!!  Here's a look at what will fill our tummy's this week!!
Tuesday: Skillet Sausage* w/ Couscous & Veggies
Wednesday: Breakfast for Dinner ~ Scrambled eggs, Toast & Bacon
Thursday: Beef Roast w/ Potatoes & Carrots (didn't end up making this last week!)
Friday & Saturday: we have plans both nights so we'll be eating out in some form for both!
Sunday: Ranch Chicken w/ Roasted Red Potatoes & Broccoli
*skillet sausage is literally just turkey sausage sliced and cooked in the skillet.  sometimes i will sprinkle a tablespoon or so of sugar over it while it cooks and let it carmelize ~ SO good, SO quick, & SO super easy!!

....And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge....
~Ephesians 3:17-19~



I was recently introduced to this little gem called Birchbox.  Have you heard of it?!!  Its a genius idea and i'm so excited to get my first one!!  Basically it works like this ~ you sign up & wait to get an invite.  Then you pay $10/month and they send you a box of hand picked high end beauty & lifestyle samples, personalized based on a survey you complete!  GENIUS i tell ya!!

It's like a special little gift that arrives at your door step every month!  And its a great way to sample various products before buying the pricier full size stuff!  A fun gift to me every month & cutting down on the collection of barely used products that i figured out i didn't really like AFTER spending money on it?! Does it get any better than that?!!  Birchbox ~ Check it out!  Sign up!  I'm pretty sure you won't be sorry! =)

The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your Lord.
~Psalm 45:11~


Menu Monday

Everything has been a little out of whack the last couple weeks around here (which drives me CRAZY!) but it's back to normal this week!!  Here's what we will be enjoying each evening this week!
Monday: Chili & Cornbread
Tuesday: Crockpot Beef Stroganoff over Pasta w/ Peas & French Bread
Wednesday: Bisquick Chicken Parm w/ Pasta & Green Salad
Thursday: Lazy Man's Mix
Friday: *for the guys ~ BBQ Sandwiches & Cowboy Beans (which is ranch style beans but Brayden wouldn't eat them when he was little until daddy called them cowboy beans and it stuck!)
*for me ~ our church's women's Christmas party!! I'm on the planning team in charge of food and i'm making red velvet brownies!!
Saturday: Crockpot Roast w/ Potatoes & Carrots
Sunday: Chicken & Dumplings w/ Green Beans
Hope everyone is having a great Monday!!  Bootcamp starts again tonight after being sick/thanksgiving break and our workout includes over a mile of sprints.  Feel free to pray for me! ;)
.....He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.
~Acts 14:17~

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

This is seriously the easiest recipe!  So simple that i was really concerned it would lack flavor the first time i made it, but nope ~ its SO good!  Can't beat super simple & delish!

2 - 2 1/2 lbs. beef stew meat
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 envelope lipton beefy onion soup mix
2 - 4 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1/2 - 3/4 C sour cream
Mix first 4 ingredients together and in crock pot. Cook on low 8-10 hours until meat is very tender. (Don't lift lid before 7th hour).
About an hour before you're ready to eat, mix in the sour cream and let it heat thru! 
 Serve over pasta & enjoy!
**with the worcestershire and sour cream, its all about your preference!  i am generous with the worcestershire because i love how much flavor it adds but i only do 1/2 C of sour cream.  Just go with what your family will like!**