New Year's Family Interview Idea

Here's a fun idea that our family has started this year - a family interview! We filled it out with the kids yesterday and some of the answers they gave were pretty cute! (Well, mostly it was Piper since she gave the answers for Tait's, too, if we couldn't come up with an answer that Taitum would give if she were able to!) I look forward to reading back on these in the years to come!



Happy New Year's!!

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Its Almost a New Year! (He's always been faithful to me.)

On the verge of 2011, I have to say I am very excited! Not for any particular reason...there are no big vacations planned, no babies expected and no big purchases that I forsee...but I am looking forward to this year. Really, I have no reason not to! Life has been good! Matt and I were just saying to each other tonight how much we are enjoying our little family and the stage of life we are in with them. I have nothing but good thoughts for the year to come! I'm sure there will be bumps along the way (there always are!) but we are learning more and more to trust God with whatever comes our way (or doesn't), to support and love each other and to be content no matter the circumstances.


But to begin sharing thoughts for the year to come, I thought it would be nice to take a minute to look back on the past year and all we have to be thankful for...

-Matt recieved his B contract this year which was huge! No more worries about employment now! We were also grateful for the opportunity for him to work summer school this past summer!
On the homefront, my sweet hubby has over and over again shown himself to be a fantastic Daddy to our girls and my greatest support and encourager! I love watching him grow in these areas in ways that have far exceeded my expectations! (I love you, babe, and am so happy to begin each new year with you!)




Daddy/Daughter date night!
Daddy plays the best games!



-Piper has been growing and learning so much! It has been a delight to watch! Her speech has improved immensely to the point that we have very few worries about it now! Her and Taitum also took their first trip to Newfoundland this year and were amazing little travellers! Piper has also taken on several new athletic challenges of which her favorite is dance! (No surprise there!) As well, Pipe has made a big change by trading in her nap times for 'quiet time'. She reminds me on a daily basis that she is a big girl!




Piper and I in Rocky Harbor, Newfoundland.

-This time last year, Taitum was a new baby so 2010 has been chock-full of changes for her! Solid food, walking, being weaned and several wardrobe changes to name a few! Her own little personality is emerging which is so beautiful to see! She is our sensitive, silly girl who's learning to hold her own...but she's still Mama's baby!

Tait in Norris Point, Newfoundland
Taitum's first steps!

-This year has been packed with changes and improvements for me! I`ve gotten a better handle on housework by weekly making a schedule and meal plan. I`ve also been learning to cook a variety of different things AND have even enjoyed it! I`ve been successful in cutting out a lot of waste and saving money too by making everything homemade - thats right! 2010 is the year we said goodbye to Delissio, KD, Campbell`s Soup, disposable diapers and haven`t looked back (well, ok, maybe once...). And, of course, my biggest accomplishment this year - commencing our homeschool journey!



The beginning of our little homeschool classroom!


My first ever homemade bread loaves!


So now, looking ahead to the coming year, I look forward to more personal growth and the joys of watching my little family as it continues to blossom! I can't wait to hear Taitum say new words and maybe even talk in sentences! I am excited for Piper to learn to identify all the letters in the alphabet and know their phonetic sounds!  I`m already marking the calendar for the mini getaways Matt and I have planned! I am super excited for the winter unit I am in the process of putting together for the girls and to try out some of the recipes from my new Kneadlessly Simple: Fabulous, Fuss-Free, No-Knead Breads book I got for Christmas! Such simple things but I can't wait! This is life at its finest!

"What about resolutions?" you may ask. I don't do them. What I do do is take on challenges when they present themselves especially if it means that the end result will be worth the task at hand. For example, starting Monday I'm taking on the Read the Bible in 90 Days challenge at Mom's Toolbox...I know, I'm crazy. But there's nothing like a huge challenge to ring in the New Year! Besides, that's just how I am - go big or go home! Matt's joining me in this endevour, too, which will be nice!
Secondly, I've recently signed up for the 365Project where you take a photo a day. I'm not much of a photographer but I do like the challenge of summing up each day with one particular picture. As well, I am thoroughly looking forward to the end result - a picture journal of an entire year!

God has been faithful for the past 26 years of my life and I know He will continue to be no matter what comes my way. That's why I'm excited about a New Year - Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

So here's to 2011 and all that it holds!

I'll leave you with one of my all time favorite songs, one that I will sing year after year until all my years are done.

Sara Groves: He's Always Been Faithful Lyrics


Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Morning by morning I wake up to find
The power and comfort of God's hand in mine
Season by season I watch Him, amazed
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He's always been faithful to me.

I can't remember a trial or a pain
He did not recycle to bring me gain
I can't remember one single regret
In serving God only, and trusting His hand
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He's always been faithful to me.

This is my anthem, this is my song
The theme of the stories I've heard for so long
God has been faithful, He will be again
His loving compassion, it knows no end
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He's always been faithful, He's always been faithful
He's always been faithful to me.

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Easy Peasy Dinners and Cookies Galore!

With Christmas break upon us, I thought I'd share some of my easy go-to recipes for those evenings when you simply don't have the time or energy to cook up anything too complicated -OR- you're on holidays! Not only are these meals delicious but they are also healthier than a lot of frozen meals you can buy! So here goes!


Quiche! I am a huge fan of this one because it can be quickly pulled together and it is so easy to make 2 at the same time! That way one can be thrown in the freezer for another time because lets face it - there are days when turning on the oven even seems like too much of an effort!
Also, quiche is wonderful for the very fact that you can add to it pretty much whatever suits your fancy! I usually prefer spinach but you can also do broccoli or any other veg you can think of! My favorite additions are kalamata olives and bacon to top it off...mmmm, yum! On the one in the pic, I threw some hot banana peppers on top especially for my hubby since he loves spicy things and I ended up really liking that too!


Shepherd's pie is another staple in our home but recently I came across a recipe for Tex Mex Shepherd's Pie which ended up being a huge hit with the kiddos! It has just enough zing to make it a new found favorite for my 2 little goobers! :) And again, its so easy to make 2 and freeze it!!


This next one is a vegetarian casserole that I LOVE! Its Chilaquiles Casserole - layers of tortillas, black beans, zucchini, diced tomatoes, enchilada sauce and cheese! So very yummy with a green salad in the side! And as you can see the kids enjoy the leftovers at lunch the next day!

 Now that the rush of Christmas baking is over, I want to share with you some of what I baked this holiday, too!

First off, an old favorite - Ginger Sparklers! They are the taste of Christmas to me! So soft and gingery...even thinking about them makes me want to go make a batch right now! The recipe was from my friend, Andrea but I don't quite remember who she said she got it from. I think you get the picture though - this is a recipe worth passing along!

Ginger Sparklers

Combine 2 c. flour, 2 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. ginger and 1/2 tsp. cloves. In a separate bowl, cream 3/4 c. margarine/butter and 1 c. brown sugar. Add  1/4 c. molasses and 1 egg. Blend thoroughly then add flour mixture. Mix well. Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in white sugar. Place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes.

This next recipe is a new one I found this year but one that I will definitely be making for years to come! Candy Cane Kiss Cookies are a lovely combination of mint and chocolate and they look festive too! Piper loved helping me with these. She was the kiss inserter (although some ended up being added to her mouth and not the cookie...I think I'll have to make my instructions a little clearer next time! ;)) The cookie dough for these cookies made the perfect Christmas gift for friends this year too!



So after making an 'ol' faithful' recipe and finding a new favorite, I just got adventurous! Thats right. I went a little crazy and made a gluten free cookie! It all started on an evening when I found myself roaming Bulk Barn all alone (ie. I had no kids with me and so more than just time enough to run in, grab what I needed and run out!!). I was browsing at all the different flours and such and came across organic coconut flour. I'd seen it come up in several recipes lately but had no idea where to find such a thing...and all of a sudden, there it was! I just had to buy some! And they even had a little recipe right there for Cinnamon Sugar Cookies! I thought it was worth a try! So I whipped a few up and took my first taste of a 'gluten-less' cookie...not quite what I had expected. Initially, I had a texture issue with it and the strong smell of coconut just seemed wrong when about to consume a sugar cookie! But the next day I tried again and they weren't so bad! Anyhow, I'll include a recipe in case you want to give it a try too! I'm sure there are better gluten free cookie recipes out there then what can be found at the Bulk Barn, I just need to look for them! (If you have a good recipe, add a link in the comment box!)

Cinnamon Sugar Cookies

Combine 4 eggs, 3/4 c. + 1 T. sugar, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, and 1/2 c. butter. Mix well. Stir in 3/4 c. coconut flour (I ended up having to use double that in order to be able to make the dough stiff enough to roll into balls). Let mixture rest 5 minutes to allow it to thicken. Combine 2 tsp. cinnamon and 1 T. sugar. Form dough into 1" balls and roll in cinnamon mixture, coating thoroughly. Place on cookie sheet 1" apart. Flatten ball to a 2" diameter. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.



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The Christmas Story (Like You've Never Seen It Before!)

I'd heard about this video from my Dad but only just came across it this morning. Piper and I watched it together and LOVE it! So adorable! Enjoy!

Advent Adventures Finale


So this is it! Our Advent Adventures have come to an end! Its been fun but I think we are all ready to move on! Our Christmas with family was fantastic and fun and Matt and I are happily unwinding from the eventful past few days! Hope you enjoy taking a look at what we did our last week before Christmas!

To begin,Piper made this Christmas tree craft from popsicle sticks, sequins and foamy stickers. We also read the Legend Of The Christmas Tree C.

We took a trip out to see the Christmas lights! Taitum wasn't terribly enthusiastic about this but Pipe LOVED it! We even filled sippy cups with hot chocolate for them and bought some timbits to munch on. It was a fun family evening!

I found this fun alphabet match at PreKinders Christmas printables. Piper really enjoyed working on it!
 This Build a Christmas tree game was fun, too! She would roll a dice and add whatever coordinated with the number rolled. She blew me away by knowing how many dots there were on the dice without even having to count them by pointing at each dot!

All week, I was working away on homemade gifts but Piper was right in there, creating things too! Here she is making some chocolate reindeer for all her grandparents, aunts and uncles! I found this cute idea at The Idea Room but used Pirate cookies instead of Nutter Butters and marshmallows cut in half for the eyes instead of white chocolate chips.


We worked some more on numbers using the Christmas cookies baking tree from Musings of Me. Then, Piper did an awesome job doing this Baby Jesus size sorting from Confessions of a Homeschooler.


This was a fun and easy ornament to make! You simply take a foam ball, insert pipe cleaner in the top to form a hanger, cover the ball in glue and apply pieces of tissue paper all over it! We also added some sparkles to it to give it some shine!
I set up a Christmas art center for Pipey this week, too. I knew I'd be busy with Christmas preparation so I thought this would be a good activity for her to spend time at while I was busy in the kitchen! For once, I was right! She spent loads of time cutting last years Christmas cards, playing with Christmas stickers and coloring in her Christmas story coloring book!


We joined Matt's sisters, Anna and Mya, to build our annual gingerbread houses! It turned into a contest since Matt's parents announced a prize for whoever got the most votes on Facebook!
This is Piper's and my lovely creation! (It ended up being mostly me once Pipe had had her fill of candy! lol)



But in the end it was Mya's amazing gingerbread town that won the grand prize! Isn't it the coolest?!

{I want to add that there is an adorable book that I read to Piper involving a gingerbread house...Mortimer's Christmas Manger. Its a new favorite for us and worth checking out! We borrowed ours from the library but I love it so much I plan on purchasing one of our own!}

Christmas morning was so fun! We bought Piper a trampoline since she has this horrible need to jump on her bed or the couch ALL the time! Now she has something she is allowed to jump on! It was a huge hit with both the girls!


For the Christmas story, Piper acted it out with her FisherPrice Nativity set while Daddy read!
We spent lots of time playing, visiting, napping and watching movies - having a relaxing and enjoyable day! Did I mention that we love Christmas?!

So from my family to yours - Merry Christmas!


What I Love About You, Taitum


I love my kids. That's a given. They're mine and from the moment they were born, I fell utterly and completely in love with them. But I often like to take time to go beyond the "I'm your Mother so of course I love you" kind of love to the more specific things that I truly love about my children.

Today's post is for you, Taitum Jubilee....

I love all the silly faces you make but this one especially. I love when we take turns making all kinds of funny faces at each other!

I love when you blow kisses to me but I really love the messy, chocolatey kind!

I love how excited you get when you turn the light off or on. I love how you make the most common things so exciting!

I love how you throw your arms back when you do something new! I love to watch you learn new things and how proud you are of your new accomplishments!

OK, so sometimes this one can be a little yucky, depending on the situation, but I do think its adorable how you have to do a taste test for everything new that I show you!

I love how you sit so serenely at the livingroom window and watch the neighborhood. I love how you search for cats as you sit there and yell 'OW" when you spot one! I love that you enjoy the simple things in life.


I love watching you as you sleep, all cuddled up and warm with your bunny, Eggroll. I could watch you for hours, I love you so much!

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"It's About the Cross"

The men's singing group at our church sang this song this morning and I thought it was fantastic! Thought I'd share it with you!



Go Fish – About The Cross lyrics

Verse 1:
It’s not just about the manger
Where the baby lay
It’s not all about the angels
Who sang for him that day
It’s not just about the shepherds
Or the bright and shining star
It’s not all about the wisemen
Who travelled from afar
Chorus:
It’s about the cross
It’s about my sin
It’s about how Jesus came to be born once
So that we could be born again
It’s about the stone
That was rolled away
So that you and I could have real life someday
It’s about the cross
It’s about the cross
Verse 2:
It’s not just about the presents
Underneath the tree
It’s not all about the feeling
That the season brings to me
It’s not just about coming home
To be with those you love
It’s not all about the beauty
In the snow I’m dreaming of
Repeat Chorus
Bridge:
The beginning of the story is wonderful and great
But it’s the ending that can save you and that’s why we celebrate
It’s about the cross
It’s about my sin
It’s about how Jesus came to be born once
So that we could be born again
It’s about God’s love
Nailed to a tree
It’s about every drop of blood that flowed from Him when it should have been me
It’s about the stone
That was rolled away
So that you and I could have real life someday
So that you and I could have real life someday
It’s about the cross
It’s about the cross

Advent Adventures: December 17th

Another week of December has come and gone and I can hardly believe it! We are having so much fun doing Christmas-y things in our household! I really don't want it to end!!I think the difference this year is that Piper is finally old enough to really get what is going on! Here is what the past week looked like for us...

We've set up a Christmas reading center which the girls LOVE! They are crazy about books to begin with but this is extra special. Each morning, I read a new book then add it to their book shelf. They have been spending so much time in this spot!

We finally got the tree up and decorated. Thankfully, Daddy was there to help as I had a major headache that morning but I still managed to take some pics and hand out ornaments! My favorite part is telling them little stories about where the ornament came from or why it was given.

Piper did a lamb craft after reading The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado. This was a sweet little story about a lamb who because of his crippled leg can't go to the far away fields with the shepherds and other sheep. By having to stay back at the stable, he finds that God has a reason for everything, even our disabilities, as that night it is the lamb who has the honour of snuggling up to the newborn baby, Jesus to keep him warm.

We spent a day on candy canes starting with "Legend Of The Candy Cane C" by Lori Walburg. Then we made marble painted candy canes, an idea we got from Hubbard's Cupboard Christmas.

Legend of the Candy Cane

Look at the Candy Cane
---what do you see?
Stripes that are red
like the blood shed for me.
White is for my Savior
who's sinless and pure!
"J" is for Jesus, my Lord,
that's for sure!
Turn it around and a staff
you will see---
Jesus, my shepherd,
was born for me!
---Author Unknown


We then went on to make these pretty and yummy Candy Cane Sugar Cookies. Piper enjoyed rolling them out and tried braiding them although that was a bit more daunting of a task!

She worked on colors by coloring each present according to the directions on the card. This was an activity from 1+1+1=1's Christmas Tot Pack. Piper is getting really good at identifying her colors (finally!).

She enjoyed doing a puzzle of baby Jesus but it wasn't easy. I think this is probably due to the fact that the pieces don't fit together like a regular puzzle but she liked it so much she asked to do it several days in a row! (Also from the 1+1+1=1 Christmas Tot Pack)

We did a day all about the star that God used to lead the wise men to Jesus. She did this star craft that we found at Hubbard's Cupboard Christmas, sang "Twinkle, Twinkle Christmas Star" from 1+1+1=1 Christmas Songs and read "The Tiny Star" by Arthur Ginolfi.


I put together a Christmas sensory basket for the girls but brought it out for the first time when Piper was away on a sleepover. This way Taitum got the first chance to explore it (Big sister can be a bit bossy at times, esp. with new things!) and we spent some fun 'Tot School' time together checking everything out!

We read "Who Is Coming To Our House" by Joseph Slate and did an activity where Pipe had to sort the People from the Animals. No problem-o! Except she couldn't tell me what animal the goat was. They say you learn something new every day and that day she learned what a goat looks like! :)
Christmas pre-writing skills...this was interesting...I'd try to help, she didn't want help, I'd back off, she'd start going off course so i'd offer help again, she'd accept it until she was doing well again, then "No, Mama! Me do it!"...you might notice on the last one, I simply gave up!


For some cutting practice, Piper cut out the pieces of the stable, star, and baby Jesus then glued them onto paper to make the nativity scene. Cutting is another thing I see great improvement in! For her stocking, I ordered Koopy scissors and am anxious to see if they prove helpful in learning this skill!
(The last 3 activities came from the 1+1+1=1 Nativity Preschool Pack)


We've also been learning Luke 2:11 by using the Songs for Saplings Christmas song and this printable from Totally Tots. Taitum especially loves this song because there is clapping involved!



Finally, today, we worked together on decorating our wrapping paper! We used brown packing paper and stamped it with tempra paint. I love the look of it! And its a lot easier to wrap with since it doesn't tear as easily! Notice Piper hopping down the paper, stamping as she goes along! Such a cutie! Now onto wrapping the gifts...next week!

Only one week til Christmas Eve! I hope you all are enjoying this season and taking some time to relax and enjoy it! Next week, we will be working on Christmas gifts for the family (but that's top secret!).

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I love motherhood.

We're a smiling family.

I'm a covenant keeper.

I love my husband.

I am above self pity.

I am a nation builder.

Motherhood=Adventure

Worth more than rubies.


“I am more convinced than ever that even in the midst of the mundane, burdensome, and oftentimes frustrating tasks of life allotted to me as a mother, God wants me to find his joy. He wants every single day of my life to be a celebration of his blessings, whether large or small. He wants me to celebrate life ~ the life He has given me.”

~ Sally Clarkson







My Hubby

My Hubby
He's my bestest.

Piper

Piper
She is my compassionate, dramatic, fun to be around 6 year old. She loves to shop, get dressed up fancy and anything else that screams girly!

Taitum

Taitum
She is my goofy, snuggly 4 year old who loves to sing and dance and smile all day long!

Renly

Renly
She is our one year old smarty pants! She does all she can to keep up with her older sisters and to keep them in line!

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