Saturday, December 31, 2011


Well, less than an hour left in this year called 2011.
It's been an incredible year!
Yes, I'm at home and not out partying at 11:00 p.m. on New Year's Eve.
That's how I roll.
I'm super, duper exciting.

I've spent the last couple of days reflecting on this year.
I won't bore you with ALL the highlights.
Just a few.

God has graciously blessed my little family with good health, lots of fun and some great memories.
We've spent many hours at basketball games, baseball games and football games.
That explains my big bleacher bum!
We spent a week together in Florida soaking up the sun, Disney fun and swimming with dolphins.
We had a little visit from the Discovery channel and Kari Byron.
My babies turned 13, 12 and 9.  I'm the "new 32" :)

We lost my stepdaddy to a short battle with pancreatic cancer.
But God was so faithful to take care of us at every turn.
I found new step siblings, nieces and nephews.
My mom, sister and I are bonded and our love and respect for each other is greater than ever before.
God became so real to my kids.
They have a greater understanding of the importance of faith and family.
Thank you, Jesus and Papa Ken.

My friendships are more precious.
God has richly blessed me this year.
He is our Great Provider and Mighty Physician.
Thank you, Lord, for all your blessings, provision, grace and mercy.
We are truly blessed and overwhelmed.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

ho ho ho!

We have special privileges with the big guy.
We get to watch him dance...
Sometimes, we get to dance with him...
He always joins us for Christmas Eve to celebrate the birth of our Savior.
Sometimes, we sneak in a photo op...

We love this big guy!
He brings us so many smiles every Christmas season.
Thank you Santa Bill for all you do for our family, our church and our little community.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

our ballerina

We have a ballerina who makes me smile...
She loves dance class!  I can understand why - Miss Amber makes hard work seem like more fun than any little ballerinas should be allowed to have.
Brothers are not real impressed with ballerinas...
She may not be starring in The Nutcracker but she is our little plum fairy...
So, this ballerina doesn't live at my house but I love her enthusiasm all the same...
One of my favorite parts of dance class as I was growing up, Reverance...
I LOVE this stage of Abi's life!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

o christmas tree

I love the look and smell of a real tree but the ease of an artificial tree can't be beat.
And I love it that no one is grouchy when putting up an artificial tree :)

The kids and I love decorating the tree.
Every ornament is special and reminds us of someone or a special event.
I especially love the ornaments my kids have made.
I always think about the special teachers we've had over the years.
Mrs. Roux...
Some of the ornaments we've given each of our congregation members over the years...
Homemade ornaments from friends...
And some fun gifts we've received over the years...

Our tree isn't a Hallmark tree.
It's not color coordinated.
There's not a theme to it.
It's just a colorful, eclectic blend of our family history.
It's perfectly us.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

sugar plum birthday fairies

My baby has a birthday this week. 
Nine years old. 
How can that be?
She's ALL girl and I love that about her.
She celebrated with four of her friends this afternoon at her dance studio.
It was her dream birthday party.
A dance party that was just tutu much fun :)
(A HUGE thank you to my mommy for staying up late Friday night to help me get all the tutus made!)

Miss Paige introduced the girls to The Nutcracker and choreographed a fun sugar plum fairy dance.
The "swish" ...
Aren't they adorable?!
(Thank you, Amy, for the "9" shirt!)

Even sugar plum fairies need to scream and jump around a little.
Lucky for Abi, her daddy is a former PE teacher and knows some great parachute games...
Tired sugar plum fairies...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

hot cocoa

My family loves hot cocoa.  We especially love homemade hot cocoa.
We didn't make any last year so it has been on our winter list for more than a year.
Every time I'd bring it up, my kids would go into panic mode.
Seems a little strange to the rest of the world but to my kids making homemade hot cocoa mix is traumatic.

The back story - we made homemade hot cocoa mix for our teachers 2 years ago for Christmas.  As I was pushing the lid on one of the last glass jars, we had a little mishap and I completely mutilated my finger.  Completely.  As in I cut through everything but the bone.  It required 2 surgeries and 6 months of rehab to get some use out of my finger.  Unfortunately for my poor kids, Hannah and Eli had to be the grown-ups and accompany me to the ER.  They will NEVER forget this experience.  If you have a weak stomach, close your eyes for this pic.
Pretty, huh?

Anywho, I really wanted my kids to have fond memories of making hot cocoa so I was determined to get them over this traumatic hurdle.
Sophie and Lawson to the rescue!
It's a little easier to be brave with your friends.
We spent an afternoon making a mess hot cocoa mix.  I worked really hard to let them do all the work and to enjoy the fun.  That's pretty hard for an overbearing perfectionist but I'm learning that the process is way more important than the final product.  I should have learned this 2 kids ago!
Hot Cocoa Mix (borrowed from Kendall Smith):
1 box (2lb 12 oz) powdered milk
1 box (2 lb) Nestlequik chocolate mix
1 bag (2 lb) powdered sugar
1 jar (1 lb) non-dairy creamer
Mix together in a very LARGE bowl because it makes LOTS!
Thank you, Melissa, for the very cool bowl.  She loaned it to us for the ice bucket for a birthday party.  We used it for the hot cocoa mix before we returned it to Melissa.  Funny thing - she doesn't want it back now :)
So, the only fingers that made it into this mix were the cute little ones attached to the kids' hands.  Yes, they licked them a lot and then stuck them back in.  Yes, it's gross but they had a great time.  My theory is that the mix is added to boiling water before we drink it so any cooties will be killed before we drink it.  Yes, Lawson touched chewed up bubble gum in the Walmart parking lot before we shopped for the ingredients.  I'm pretty sure he washed his hands before we started mixing :)

I really, really wanted the cool 1 gallon glass jars for the mix.  Abi pretty much went into meltdown at Walmart so we bought the plastic jars so there wouldn't be the risk of an injury.  The process is more important than the final product, remember? 
Every jar of hot cocoa mix should be decorated with lots of love and creativity.  Remember - the process is way more important than the final product!
Add a fun little scoop and a bag of vanilla snowman marshmallows and you've got all sorts of yummy goodness.
And lots of fun memories!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

lovely photography

Laura Rhoades is one of my sweetest, dearest friends.
I feel kind of funny calling her a friend since I'm almost old enough to be her mom.  More like a much older sister.
Anywho, Laura is a photographer from Wichita who specializes in female portraiture.
lovely portraiture for women is the name of her business and website.
We've talked for several years about Laura doing a photo shoot for me and my girlfriends/daughters/sister/mom...or anyone else willing to show up with me.
We finally made it happen this fall. 
I should have done it much sooner.
She has an incredible way of making her clients feel at ease and beautiful. 
That's probably because that's what she is - at ease and beautiful.
Here are my favorite shots from our shoot with her.