Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Late December Picnic

Yesterday we took jackets, hats, and special snacks and we went and found this magical little picnic spot. I think the thing abut adventuring outside with kids is that you can't wait for that perfect moment when the weather is just right or that moment when everyone wants to go. You've just got to do it and show them by example how fun it can be, even if it's a little cold out. It takes practice, it takes patience, it's like establishing a new habit. The good thing is that kids are adaptable and they learn quickly.

We sat at the end of this boardwalk together, eating string cheese, bananas, granola bars and animal crackers, while we watched the waves and talked. It was cold and Eliza fussed, but the other kids had fun and we all came home happy that we went.

When people say you'll get sick from being out in the cold, I think that's total bologna. Hogwash, man. Hogwash. I think what really makes our kids sick is being inside all the time and breathing recycled air. I've never heard of a kid getting sick from being outside too much.

Here's to late December picnics. To sitting with our kids all bundled up, eating snacks and loving where we live. Here's to getting out with our kids year-round and experiencing the world with them. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Crock Pot Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

"The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be."
//Ralph Waldo Emerson
Dinner last night was a little different and it's amazing how such a small difference made our simple dinner seem more special. Our normal routine is to serve up at the counter and then bring the kids plates to them at the table. 

Well for some reason, last night I remembered how special it was when I was a kid to help my mom set the table. I called the kids over, telling them that I had some jobs for them. Right away, they were so excited to put plates out for me, to place the napkins (a.k.a torn paper towels) and put the silverware out. 

Next, I had everyone sit down and then I put the food in the middle of the table, which might be totally normal at your house, but for some reason, we've only done this on special occasions. 

I lit a candle, we prayed and then we passed our plates around, loading with apple slices, crock pot Balsamic Pork Tenderloin and broccoli slaw . Something about having a nice dinner with our kids is so special to me. No matter what happens during the day, I love lighting a candle and sitting down together.

Dinnertime isn't always easy with 3 kids, 5 years old and under. Actually, sometimes it's just awful- kids don't like what I make. Eliza throws food and drinks are spilled often, but still- we try and I'm really loving this new tradition of having the kids help me set the table. 

The Balsamic Pork Tenderloin that I threw into the crock pot yesterday was so easy and delicious that I'd thought I'd share the recipe here. 

Getting it into the crock pot literally takes 5 minutes and then you just walk away. When dinnertime came, I made some broccoli slaw and then removed the pork from the crock pot. It was so tender and delicious. 

Dinner around the table doesn't need to be a fancy meal. Light a candle, use plates that make you happy and make it special, no matter what you're serving.

My next project is going to be sewing cloth napkins. There's nothing wrong with paper towels (see my photos below, not pretty), but don't you think there's just something special about a cloth napkin on your lap?

If you're looking for an easy crock pot recipe to add to your go-to list, this one's for you. Light a candle and enjoy.
Balsamic Pork Tenderloin
  • 1 boneless pork tenderloin
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  1. Place pork tenderloin into the insert of your slow cooker. In a 2-cup measuring cup, mix together all remaining ingredients. Pour over pork and set the timer for your slow cooker. (4 hours on High or 6-8 hours on Low)
  2. Once pork tenderloin has cooked, remove from slow cooker and place onto a serving dish. Break apart lightly with two forks and then ladle about ¼ – ½ cup of gravy over pork tenderloin.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

12 Books To Read in 2015

I love to read and I feel like I'm finally starting to really make time for it, although I'd still like to read much more than I do. One of my main goals for this next year is make reading more of a priority. It's relaxing for me, it's a good example to my kids, it inspires me and it helps me grow as a person.

So, here are 12 books that I'd love to read in 2015. Please share some of your favorites with me as well! I feel like this list is forever growing and that's a good thing!

1.  Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To Do List, and Letting Go of a Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters  
I've heard so many good things about this book and I can't wait to dig into it. For more inspiration, check out Rachel’s blog:Hands Free Mama.
2.  The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You
Yes, this one looks so good, doesn't it?
My sweet friend Sareh mentioned how good this book is. I can't wait to read it.
A bit about the book: "You can apply the same techniques of efficiency, intention, and purpose that you've used in other careers to your most important position in life----motherhood. Steady Days takes you through the process of becoming a professional mother: one who is organized and excited to spend time with your young children."
It's been a huge blessing to be part of the All Mom Does team and to guest post for MOPS International over the year and lately I've been wanting to grow more in the area of making my words matter. I want to write with purpose and passion and I think this book is going to be great. 

Life is chaotic. But we can choose to live it differently. 
It doesn't always feel like it, but we do have the freedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so that our path better aligns with our values and passions.
"The popular blogger and founder of the internationally recognized Simple Mom online community tells the story of her family’s ongoing quest to live more simply,fully, and intentionally.
Part memoir, part travelogue, part practical guide, Notes from a Blue Bike takes you from a hillside in Kosovo to a Turkish high-rise to the congested city of Austin to a small town in Oregon."
With my whole heart I believe that we ARE what we eat and that we need to give our bodies good fuel.....and then I go and eat and ton of sugar all December. What's up with that? 
This book is going to be a good one.
This book looks wonderful for 100 different reasons. Our Ladies Hiking group is starting up again in January and also, I can't wait to do more hikes with the kids this year. We live in a gorgeous area, it's time to get out there and enjoy it!
"Born without arms or legs, Nick Vujicic overcame his disability to live not just independently but a rich, fulfilling life, becoming a model for anyone seeking true happiness. Now an internationally successful motivational speaker, his central message is that the most important goal for anyone is to find their life’s purpose despite whatever difficulties or seemingly impossible odds stand in their way."

A minimalist lifestyle appeals so much to me lately. I can't wait to read this. 
Want to save this list for later? Pin it here.

What books do you hope to read in the new year? Any books that I must, must read? I’d love to hear!

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Little Christmas Recap

We've been in our jammies all day and it's been wonderful. I promised the kids yesterday that today we could stay home all day and just play so, that's exactly what's been going down around here. They've been playing with toys non-stop and I've been doing what I always do the day after Christmas each year----I start putting away Christmas.

Before you think I'm a total Scrooge, let me reassure you that really, I am not. I actually love, love, love Christmas and it's been an amazing December. However, I also love a clean slate and I love a fresh, clutter free space to welcome the new year into.

The tree will stay until New Year's Day, but as they play, I've been wondering around in my jammies, finding homes for all the new things, throwing old things away and making a thrift store pile. It's practically therapeutic, I'm telling ya!

Christmas this year was wonderful. Our Christmas Eve was incredibly simple and one of the sweetest that I can remember. Jeremiah had to work and so, the kids and I were home most of the day. Together we baked cookies for Santa, got the cinnamon rolls ready, wrapped a few last minute gifts and then ran to Costco for one final thing.

All December, I longed for moments of stillness and with our house being shown to potential buyers at weird times and all sorts of other things happening, I felt like those "still" moments were very few and far between.

On Christmas Eve, everything seemed to shift and just came together. All the preparations were done and it was time to anticipate Jesus's Birthday. Stillness came and I could feel the anticipation of what was to come....

For Christmas Eve dinner, we had Santa Claus pancakes, eggs and bacon. Then we headed out to the candle light service at church. The service was amazing, but Eliza was awful. By the time we left, I was envious of every family who's children are older. I felt like a complete failure as a Mom and I just wanted to cry. Next year will be easier....

The other highlight of Christmas Eve was Judah loosing his first tooth. We had just finished reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and we were sitting there on the couch together. He was wiggling it and I told him that if he really wanted it out before Christmas, he could totally pull it out. Just a moment later, it was out and we were all cheering for him!

That night Santa came and ate his cookies. He left presents and also left Judah money under his pillow, with a special snowflake, that had a sweet note on it. Of course, Santa also left a Chocolate Kiss under his pillow, too.

Christmas morning was a sweet time with just our family at home. The kids had a wonderful time opening presents and eating cinnamon rolls. Later we headed to my sister's for Christmas with my family.

When I was younger, it was incredibly hard to wait patiently as we all went around, each opening one present at a time. Now, I wouldn't have it another other way. I'm so thankful for my family and the way they enjoy this day together.
From our family to you, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and we hope you had a wonderful day!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Our Daily Story: Taking Cookies to Neighbors and 10 Cookie Recipes I'd Love to Make

Yesterday the note in our daily advent pocket that said it was time to bake cookies together and then take them around to our neighbors. So, as Eliza napped, the kids and I made some Butterscotch Chip Cookies.

After the cookies cooled and Eliza was up, we buckled her into the stroller, grabbed some Christmas cards and walked around, delivering our cookies.

Part of me felt like we should have baked an assortment of different delicious things and spent more time packaging them all fancy and beautiful, but I think it's more about the experience and showing the kids that this is fun.

Honestly, taking cookies around to neighbors is so intimidating to me. I felt nervous and I was glad to have kids who will run them up to the doors and ring the bell, so that I don't have to. Not that the kids do it perfectly either...... Their style is more of a Christmas prank. They carefully tip toe up the steps, one holding a bag of cookies and the other with a Christmas card, then they silently set them down, ring the door bell and then RUN away. I must have told them 10 times yesterday that we actually WANT our neighbors to see us. Maybe we need to work on our form, but we've got lots of years to practice that.....

Wrapping this up with 10 different cookie recipes that would be great for your neighbors:
Maybe these aren't technically a cookie, but who'd you have to be crazy not to love these!
What about you, do you have a favorite cookie recipe for taking to neighbors?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Our Daily Story: A Walk, Caramels and Stillness

Today we woke up to kids that weren't feeling 100%  so, we had to stay home from church. The thought of entire day spent indoors made me feel a little claustrophobic and when we started talking about what we should do, Judah chimed in with the idea that we should go for a family walk. I love that his idea of family fun is getting outside and enjoying this beautiful area in which we live together. I love that he wants to run trails and find big sticks. 
As we walked along, I wore Eliza on my back. For awhile, with each step that I took, she said "Weee! Weeee!". I had forgotten how sweet it is to have her snuggled into me like that. Now that she's so active and all over the place, we have less time like this together. I'm thankful for her next to me today as we walked along. 
It's not very often that I wonder what the world must look like when you're the height of a 5 year old, but today I noticed something about this kid. He always finds the best spots. I wouldn't have even noticed that this bridge had a few of the railing pieces missing, but just like that, I look over and without missing a beat, he's there, making ripples. Even as he gets taller, I hope he still notices these things. I hope he is still fully present and not rushed, so that he is able to notice these little things.

I think that's the problem with most of us adults. We're not present and we ARE rushed.
Later in the afternoon, our entire house fell silent while everyone napped. I enjoyed the quiet and planned our week and packaged up these caramels. I had to get them packaged because if I'm not careful, I could eat the entire batch. If you're looking for a good caramel recipe, try out this one. 
Goals for the new week: I guess my main goal would be to create moments of stillness for myself and for the kids. After watching them just enjoy the world out on our walk today, I want them to see more stillness in me. I feel like as a Mom, I need to model this for them and it's not easy, especially around this time of year. I guess what I'm trying to say is that we create what's "normal" in our kids minds. I don't want a stressed out, hurried Mom to become their normal.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”    – Psalm 46:10


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