Monday, May 22, 2017

Kateism

I used to post a lot of the things Kate said when she was younger and called them "Kateisms".  Sadly, I just haven't kept up with this as well as I hoped. At the end of each year I print my blog into a book using Blog2Print and my blog book becomes somewhat of my kids baby book.  Soooo.... I definitely need to do better about sharing things that I want to make it into the book!

Here is one of those memories that has to be in there...

Since the weather around here has been pretty awesome in the evenings lately, the girls and I have started taking walks after dinner.  We typically walk over to a nearby neighborhood, walk through the neighborhood, and then turn around and go home.  As you come out of our road, there is an area where a ton of wild daisies are growing.  Lately, Kate has started picking the wildflowers and bringing them with us until we get to the neighborhood.  Then she has been leaving flowers on people mailboxes "to make people smile when they check their mail". There were LOTS of mailboxes, so she made sure to just leave one flower on each box so that she could give them to as many people as possible.

Oh this girl. I love her sweet heart for others. 


The book called The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman, talks about the different ways that people really hear "I love you".  There are many iterations of the book.  Some versions are written specifically for marriage relationships and one version is written specifically to children. However, in all versions, there are 5 different ways that people "show" and "hear" love:
  • Words of Affirmation 
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch
Typically you know what your own love language is by the way you would naturally "show" someone that you love them.  For example, if my natural way to show Kate that I love her is through spending time with her (taking her to Target, watching TV with her, coloring with her, etc), then that would indicate that MY love language is Quality Time and that I would feel most loved/appreciated if others spent Quality Time with me.  Gary Chapman's theory is that a person naturally gives love in the way they would prefer to receive love. The book is very interesting, and I do think it is very helpful to learn what type of love language those that are closest to you are, so you can know the best way to show them love and appreciation. 

Anyway, I said all of that to say that I've always thought that Kate's love language is Receiving Gifts, and as she gets older, I definitely see this more and more.  Even as a toddler, she would pick a handful dandelions and joyfully present them to me. She is constantly drawing and coloring pictures for special people in her life. Judging by the way that she shows love/appreciation to others through giving gifts, my guess is that this is her love language. :)  

As a kid, you're often very self-focused and completely wrapped up in your own world. This was definitely one of those proud mom moments, as I got to see Kate being a cheerful giver, and focus on bringing a smile to other's faces. 


Note - Amazon Affiliate links used above. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday Meal Planning - 2

It's Sunday meal planning time.  I actually stuck to our meal plan pretty well last time, so I'm going to try this again. Not quite as many recipes, because I'm banking on a few of these lasting for more than one dinner. :)  Nothing better than leftovers, right?  Here's what's on the menu this week!


Kristi gave me this recipe years ago and I still make it regularly. I like to stick a few boneless skinless chicken breasts in the crockpot, with chicken stock or broth, a day or two before we plan to eat this. I'll cook the chicken on low all day and it makes the chicken SO easy to shred. Since I knew we'd be busy this week, I went ahead and made the filling for the pot pie, and it's sitting in my refrigerator so all I have to do the day of is just roll out my pie crusts, drop in the filling, cover with the other pie crust, and then cook. Easy!

This is a new one for us. I've made similar things in the past but don't think I've ever used this exact recipe. It looks yummy though so we'll see how it tastes!

Tacos
Tacos are a staple in our Mexican-food-loving household. I also picked up chips and salsa. We've found a new salsa at Target that's soooo good - Corn & Black Bean Salsa, by Archer Foods.  The girls will often skip the chips and eat salsa by the spoonful.  Told ya we like Mexican! 

I made a big batch of this to bring for lunch at work and it's so good!  I used three-cheese tortellini and Olive Garden Italian dressing. Throw in a side of some sliced fruit or a green salad, and that's good enough for me for lunch. 


Thursday, May 18, 2017

First Day & Last Day

Karsten started preschool (Mothers Day Out) back in September and this Tuesday was her very last day.  "School" got off to a rough start, and there were lots of tears involved during drop off time. However, Karsten quickly caught on to how fun her class is, and fell in love with her teachers.  She only went on Tuesdays but if we even remotely started driving into the direction of the church where her Mothers Day Out program was, she would get excited and say "We going to my school? We gonna go see my friends?" 

This girl had a great year, and looking back, I can't even believe how much she grew and changed.  Y'all. This is only EIGHT months ago! Look at that baby!


I sure do love this girl. Her smile lights up her entire face.




Year #1 is in the books, and what a year it was. Can't wait till next year!  Now excuse me while I go console myself that I officially no longer have a baby.  :) 


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Summer Reading List 2017 - Kelley

Reading is probably one of my favorite hobbies, and probably the one I spend the most time on. I've always been a reader, and I remember getting in trouble when I was a kid for turning my light back on after I was supposed to be in bed.  I definitely got caught a few times reading until well after midnight.

I'm not someone who is picky about what I read on either.  I love real, paperback books.  I had a Nook for a while and loved to read on it. I'll read on my iPad, or on my phone.  I have to say, that I do  really enjoy reading on the iPad or phone because of the simplicity of the OverDrive app.  Have you ever heard of this?

Basically, it's a Library app.  You download the app on your device and then input your library card information. This gives you access to your library's electronic copies of books. SO easy. You "check them out" for two weeks at a time, and the app automatically returns them for you.  I can't even tell you the number of books I've read on that app.  Love it.

So anyway, I'm listing a few books that are on my reading list for this summer.  I jokingly say that the list is for the summer, but I'll likely get these read in the next month or so.  I told you I love to read! (Plus, I'm a relatively quick reader. I'll get through most books in just a couple of days.)


If any of YOU have read books lately that you've enjoyed, please share them in the comments! I'm always looking for more to add to my list!



I'm going to go ahead and preface this by saying, I typically love to read fiction over nonfiction. So this one may take me a bit longer to get through. When I read anything nonfiction, I like to just do a chapter or so a day so that I actually absorb what I'm reading and let it sink in. What better thing to take my time on than something that will (hopefully) help me learn how to practice more patience and give more grace to my kids.  In the craziness of parenting, it is always great to be reminded that we should shift our focus off of "being good" and more towards God's redeeming grace. 



Oh my.  Just based on the title, I don't really think there could be a more perfect book for me than this right now. I love my job, and I love being in the workplace, but it is TOUGH y'all.  Finding that balance and keeping your priorities in order, without being overwhelmed, is a challenge. I'm looking forward to this one.  


Nicholas Sparks. Enough said, right? I mean The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, Message in a Bottle....  I've missed his books the past few years since he's apparently been super busy writing film scripts.  I'm excited to check this one out. Hopefully it lives up to the high standard he set for himself! 


If you love John Grisham, you'll probably enjoy Robert Whitlow. I have read quite a few of his books and enjoyed them all. They are fiction, but really make you think about ethical situations. I've added this newest one to the list for summer. 


And lastly is a book by Francine Rivers.  Her book Redeeming Love is probably one of my all time favorites.  Since reading that one, I haven't read much by Francine Rivers, only because I was sure nothing else could live up to my expectations!  Bridge to Haven was first published in 2014, so it's not new, but it is new to me. I'll let you know what I think!

That's it! Like I said, if you have any "must read" books to add to the list, please let me know! 

** Please note that affiliate links are used above.  

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day 2017

Today is a day to celebrate MOTHERS and I have some pretty special moms in my life...

To my mom: My mom's mother died when my mom was a small child, so she didn't necessarily have a role model to learn the whole parenting thing from.  Somehow she figured out how to do the mom-thing with grace and beauty all on her own. I'm so thankful to have her influence from my own childhood to help guide me in being a mom to two little girls. I thank God for the mama I needed as a kid, and the mama that grew into my best friend. 

To my girls birth moms: These two special women made what was likely one of the hardest decisions of their life, and through that, I get the gift of being a Mama. Their sacrifice was one of my biggest blessings, and I will never be able to thank them enough. I thank God each day for bringing THEM into our lives, and for bringing our girls into this world. 

To my friends: Thank you for being there as we go through mommyhood together. Thank you for being someone to bounce late night texts off of when I can't decide if my kid is sick enough to warrant a doctor visit, or to just laugh and reminisce about the wacky things our kids have done that day.  Or even just to send a Meme to try to prompt a laugh after a long, hard day.  It takes a village, right? Thank you for being a part of that village! 

Today I got to celebrate my SIXTH year of being a mom.  While we were in the waiting stages of our first adoption, I knew this day would come at some point, but I had no idea when.  I look at each one of these pictures, and know how special each one is. (And also, I told Kevin that I am going to be extremely sad when it comes time to take a Mothers Day picture, and both of my girls are too big to hold!)

Being a Mommy is one of my most precious titles, and I don't take it for granted or take it lightly. I pray each day that I can be the mom that my girls need. I pray that I can teach them, and guide them, and along with Kevin, give them a godly foundation for them to build their lives on, just like Timothy's mother and grandmother did for him.

"I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother, Lois, and your mother, Eunice.  And I know that same faith continues strong in you." 

- 2 Timothy 1:5

This morning, Kate woke me up with a poke in the arm, followed by a kiss.  Then she stuck a card in my face and said "Happy Mother's Day!" She was so proud of her "cursive" handwriting, which was really just writing in print without lifting the pen, but I'll never tell her that!

These two girls are truly one of my biggest blessings. They are sweet, kind, funny, imaginative, CRAZY, a little bit wild, caring, and so very loving.  I treasure (almost) every moment with them! Thank you, God, for letting me be their Mommy!


And on a different note, Kate has taken an interest in my camera and BEGS me to let her use it each time I pull it out.  I'm not-so-secretly loving it.  I think this girl has some talent, no? I may have to hire her!




Friday, May 12, 2017

Fidget Spinners

** Affiliate links included below.

A week ago I had no idea what a Fidget Spinner even was.  And now, they are EVERYWHERE. Seriously. We were eating dinner at a Mexican restaurant the other night, and looked around and 5 different kids were all holding and spinning these things.


So anyway, Kate came home from school last week and kept telling Kevin and me about these fidget spinner things that her friend Kahlil had, and asked if she could get one.  I had no idea what they were but she said they sold them at her school store. So, I told her to find out how much they cost and we would see.

Well, of course she forgot to check on the price (and I kinda doubt they actually sold these things AT SCHOOL), but a week later she was still wanting one.  Kevin promised to buy her one off of Amazon, but then couldn't get the transaction to go through on his phone, so he gave up. We had no idea where to buy one in person but we figured this would be the kind of thing that the mall would be selling at a kiosk in the middle.  And you know what?  We were right!

So this kid took her allowance money and bought herself a multicolored cheetah print fidget spinner.  And then we had to buy Karsten one too, because in Kevin's own words, "even if Kate got an amputation, Karsten would have to have one too."  Karsten is definitely a little copycat.


If you DON'T know about the fidget spinner craze, here are some links to a few. Kate's school allows kids to have them at recess, but otherwise they need to stay in their book bags. Tons of schools in our area are just flat-out banning them. That's how big they are. Craziness.  (Though I will say, they are kind of entertaining to play with for a few minutes.)






Sunday, May 7, 2017

Sunday Meal Planning- 1

I'm kind of a creature of habit and Sunday afternoons are typically my meal planning and grocery shopping days.  Am I alone in this?  If I don't plan it, it won't happen. And there is definitely not enough time in my day to try to go to the grocery store and pick up food for dinner on a weeknight.

I mentioned in a previous post that life has been a little chaotic/busy/CRAZY lately.  So while we usually save our eating out for weekends, I've been picking up a pizza on my way home from work more often than I'd like.

In an effort to maybe give myself a bit more accountability, I'm listing some of the meals planned for this week. All of these are relatively easy to make and my kids like at least PART of the meal. (i.e. - Kate loves shrimp and salad, but she'll skip the grits).  Such is the life when you live with a picky eater.  We definitely don't cater to her or we'd be eating chicken strips every meal, but I try to have at least a few choices that she likes.

I'm linking to the original recipes (if there is one) in the title.  So, here's what's up for this week:


Ham Stromboli 
I made this one for our small group tonight, and we have it occasionally for dinners during the week. Super easy and quick to make.  I have had a hard time finding the french loaf dough in my local grocery store the last few months, but WalMart always seems to come through. They have everything.

Shrimp and Grits, with Salad
I kind of made this one up, knowing what is already in there. I'll make cheese grits and then top it with bacon and shrimp (sprinkled with Tony's Seasoning, and sautéed in butter).  I like to add sautéed onions or chives too but the kids don't love those, so that often gets left off.

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo over Orzo Pasta
I stumbled across this recipe in the last 6 months and decided to give it a try. I figured it would be a bomb (in a bad way) because my kids are weird and don't like pasta.  For someone like me who loves Italian food, this is a major disappointment. I mean what kid doesn't like Mac & Cheese???  Anyway, I figured I would make this and serve it over orzo since that's one of the few pasta's I have never given them.  By some small miracle, they didn't hate it!  I won't say it is their favorite meal, but it lets me eat pasta every now and then.  (I use Prego's Homestyle Alfredo and really like it. You definitely have to find an alfredo that you love, because that's what makes the dish.)

Meatloaf Meatballs, Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans
With a Pioneer Woman recipe, you can't go wrong.  This recipe is a make-ahead one for me. I will double or triple the recipe and make a big batch of meatballs on a Saturday.  Then I'll save out some to cook and freeze the rest.  We like the Meatloaf Meatballs better than typical meatloaf.

Pulled Pork BBQ, Baked Beans, Corn on the Cobb, and Chips
Kevin likes to buy Boston Butt when it is on sale, and then freeze them. He'll smoke one on the grill all day on a Saturday and then we'll save it for a different night. Yumm!  This is one of my favorites.


Saturday, May 6, 2017

First Lake Day of 2017

I've been doing some major catching up on the blog lately, and I still have quite a few more to go. Before I get too much further behind, I needed to share some pictures from a couple of weekends ago.  We spent Friday and Saturday at my parent's lake house, and it was warm enough for us to put on bathing suits and get out on the pontoon boat for the first time this year.  But first, this view...


One of the prettiest places I know! 

I did a horrible job of taking pictures, but did get a few from our Friday evening boat ride and then a few more when we went out during the day on Saturday.  On Friday, Kate drove us around. 


Saturday started off warm, and we took the kids over to a nearby beach to "swim". The water was freezing, but that didn't stop them...




Karsten must be going through a growth spurt right now because she's been eating like CRAZY lately. This little kid ate 3 sandwiches and wanted more... not to mention the applesauce, cookies, and blueberries that she'd eaten.  Where she puts all that food, I have no idea. 


I couldn't grab a picture of Kate because she spent the day in the 20 degree water.  I exaggerate but I honestly don't know how she stood it.  I got in the water up to my knees, but couldn't take a step further.  It surely didn't bother Kate though. She is a little fish and loves the water, no matter the temperature!



Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Gymnastics Girls

Since August, Kate has taken gymnastics on Tuesday evenings. She LOVES it and I have to say, I'm impressed with how much she has learned in this short period of time. This is definitely one of those sports I can see us sticking with for a long period of time.  
 
Karsten is still too young to attend a class, but because Kevin often has church meetings on Tuesday nights, she sometimes has to tag along and watch big sister do her thing.  When she goes, she is SO jealous and anxious to get out there on her own.
 
A friend gave her a hand-me-down leotard and so Karsten had to wear it last Tuesday when we went to gymnastics.  Here are the girls before we headed off to the gym...



 
And in case you were wondering why Karsten looks less than impressed in these pictures, it's because of this....

 
 
Kevin was on our roof, blowing off the leaves and sticks that had fallen during a storm.  Karsten couldn't care less that he was on the roof, but she HATES the blower.  She is terrified of it, and terrified of Kevin when he is wearing it. 


The things we are scared of as kids!  This has been a pretty long-standing fear with her though, and we are going on a solid year of this. We even have an electric blower at church that is used to clean off the sidewalks, and when she see it, she immediately says "We're not gonna turn the blower on." Wonder how much longer this fear will last?

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sister, Sister

These two girls were meant to be sisters, and only God could orchestrate their stories to bring them together in one family.


I'm so thankful that they have each other.  They love each other fiercely, and look out for one another. Anytime Karsten gets something (like a toy or a snack) she always asks for another, because "I need one for Kate."  Kate is her favorite person in the whole world, and I'm pretty sure the feeling is mutual.


We had THE HARDEST TIME keeping Kate out of Karsten's face when Karsten was a baby. She would love to touch Karsten's nose and lips and cheeks.  Even now, Kate can't seem to stay away. When I ask to take their picture, it's not enough for Kate to stand beside her little sister. She has to bend down and put her face right up against Karsten's, because she loves her that much. 


Since I have had the privilege of growing up with a sister, I know just how special it is. I pray these two grow up to be best friends, to share their secrets, and to support one another.  I pray that they realize what a blessing that it is that they have each other.


I recently saw a quote from Elizabeth Barrett Browning that perfectly sums up my opinion of these two little girls.

"God's gifts put man's best dreams to shame."





Saturday, April 29, 2017

JOY

This time of year is always a little overwhelming.

Work is crazy. Tax CPA's have a traditional busy season that typically ends with the April 15th tax return due date, but it seems like that doesn't really mean anything anymore.  It never slows down and there's always at least some level of craziness! Such is life. 

It's the end of the school year, and even though Kate's only in Kindergarten and probably doesn't even really know that summer break is near, we are all reaching that point where the extended break is needed. We're completely over homework and behavior charts and reading logs and permission slips and sandals that have to have backs on them and... I could go on but I think you get the point. So yeah, school is crazy. 

Home life is crazy too.  The girls started swim lessons, which takes up yet another week night. Pretty soon they'll all be full with something.  It's finally starting to warm up, which means grass is growing (and needing to be mowed) and all of the outdoor projects on our "to do" list are getting into full swing. So far we've planted flowers, put down new stone borders around our entire house, and painted the storage building, which just puts a small dent in all of our projects. There's always something. 

The other day I saw someone share this picture and I really need to find where it's from because I need it hanging somewhere in our house: 


I mean really, how true is this? It's all about perspective and knowing that sometimes you WILL be buried in work, in responsibilities, in chores, in project, in WHATEVER.  But God can help you through it and use those situations to make you ready for something even bigger. 

Friday evening the girls and I ran over to Papa John's to pick up a pizza for dinner while Kevin was mowing the grass.  It was 70 degrees outside, the sun was down, and we rode home with the windows down and the music turned up.  From the back seat I hear Kate and Karsten singing along at the top of their lungs to the song "Joy" by Johnny Diaz. 

I've got JOY down in my soul,
I'm gonna take it everywhere I go,
not gonna worry 'bout what I don't know.
I'll be alright as long as I've got
JOY here in my heart,
wavin' like a torch fightin' off the dark,
in the jet black night I'm gonna see the stars,
I'll be alright as long as I've got JOY!

As I listened to them singing, I couldn't help but be filled with thankfulness for the JOY that comes in the peace of knowing Jesus as my Savior and Lord.  Yes, life is crazy. But thankfully my peace doesn't come from this life and from this world.  Instead it comes from the One who created it all. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Easter 2017

Easter!  My girls were so excited for Easter (Kate especially).  We started the day off with our church family, and I was thankful that my parents joined us for the service.  After church, we came back to our house and my sister and brother-in-law joined us after their church service.  They actually beat us to our house and hid eggs around the yard for the kids to go find. 

Also while we were at church, the Easter bunny visited our house.  I know those of you with small kids understand the struggle of getting a family ready to go somewhere in the mornings.  Sunday mornings are always a rush for us to get everyone ready and out of the door on time.  Add in the fact that Kevin needs extra time to study (so the kids need to be somewhat quiet for a bit), and the fact that we get to church 30-45 minutes before it starts, and.... things get REAL hard.  

So, the last few years, we've tried to ease some of the rush and our Easter bunny has visited our house while we are at church. (i.e. - we load up into the car, and mama runs back inside to get something I "forgot", and put the baskets on our fireplace hearth.)  Not sure we can pull this off much longer but it's been nice while it's lasted.  The other plus, is that we all get to see the excitement of the kids actually seeing their baskets for the first time. 


And of course, we had to get a few Easter pictures...  








As thankful as I am to spend time with family, I'm even more thankful for the significance of this day - Resurrection Sunday.  No matter how good we are, no matter how hard we try, and no matter how bad we want it, we cannot be perfect enough on our own to earn salvation and be "made right" with God.  It is only through the perfect, sinless sacrifice that Jesus willingly offered to us through his death and resurrection can we be made clean. It is only through Jesus that our sins, failures, and shortcomings can be forgiven. 


And for that, I am most thankful. 

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