a recap of our year – 2019.

2019 started off challenging, but has ended being one of the very best years. i’m taking this year as something that i will look back to, and be grateful for where it took me.

and in 2020, i’m ready for more, more of this happy life.

i took a few minutes to look through my year in photographs, and wanted to share some of my favorite moments with you.

little miss mahkena turned 7; it’s so hard to believe she’s already that old. we celebrated with a disneyland-themed birthday with some of our friends and family, and that girl sure got spoiled.

the girls and i moved into our own little place in town. we knew it was only temporary so we weren’t too picky when looking for a place to rent, but it sure turned into quite the perfect little home for us three, and mazi girl.

i had a work conference in austin, texas that i had the opportunity to attend. john was able to join; we went down a few days early and made a vacation out of it. it was so nice to get away together and enjoy some texas sunshine.

welp, it was inevitable. this was the year i turned 30. and as much as i dreaded it, it turned out to be the best birthday ever. we spent it in chicago and attended a cubbies game.

every five years, my family has our family reunion and this june it was held near st. louis. we drove up the wednesday before to spend a bit more time with family. we rented this little cabin and spent our days swimming, at the zoo, and just catching up with everyone. we’re already looking forward to the next one.

and just like that kaylei turned 11. before we know it we’re going to have a teenager and i’m so not ready! we rented the community room in town and had an art-themed birthday party. i loved that some of her friends from school were able to join us.

the girls and i moved up to roscoe, in with john and the kids. we were super exited about the move and as a little nervous as they were, i think the girls were excited to start new schools.

i got to attend my first nfl game, and even though it wasn’t the chicago bears, i thorougly enjoyed watching the vikings play. i’m already looking forward to going to another one, and hopefully soon!

we were excited about trick-or-treating this year. with 6 of us and everyone being a good sport about the entire family dressing up, we had some fun. we went as minions for trick-or-treating at the campground and went with grinch, dr. suess, and winnie the pooh characters for the night of halloween.

with the holidays coming up and needing photos for our christmas card and wanting new canvases to hang up within our home, we had leigh photography take our family photos this fall. she did such an amazing job at capturing us all.

we spent thanksgiving together with our families and made sure to continue with our tradition of shopping with all the crazies on black friday. needing anything or not, i love that we still continue to go every year and enjoy all the people watching.

we ended the year with lots of family time for christmas. we made sure to take part of all the holiday festivities from cookie-baking to wearing matching pajamas. there is nothing better as a parent than watching the joy on your kids faces on christmas morning. having us all together is my favorite.

2020, this is our year.

our christmas: 2019.

i feel like with all the anticipation and excitement of christmas, it seems to take forever for the day to finally be here and then once it’s here, it’s gone in the blink of an eye.

i can’t believe the holidays are over; and with this year being even more special, i hate thinking about how fast it went.

we had a busy few days…wrapping last minute gifts, preparing the house to host, and the holiday events, but i would’t change them for the world.

christmas eve is easily one of my favorite days to spend with family and continue with our traditions. we had the morning to get last minute things done around the house, and then around lunch time family started showing up.

for lunch, we had baked mostacciolli, ham sandwhiches, salad, garlic bread, and the most delicious desserts. all the kids were super excited about opening gifts, so as soon as lunch was over, we let them all open their presents.

i’d say they were all pretty happy with what they got based off of the grins on their faces.

i love that all the cousins got to spend christmas eve together and create those memories.

around dinner time, my family came over for our annual christmas eve traditions. we typically always choose something fairly simple and non-traditional to make for dinner…this year we decided on homemade pizzas. for being the first year, and never attempting them before, they turned out really well and the kids even enjoyed them.

every christmas eve since i can remember, we’ve always opened a few gifts from family members. we sit around the tree and one-by one open one. it’s always enjoyable to see what each other got.

before we knew it we, were watching christmas movies and realized it was time to get the kiddos to bed. but not before they put out milk and cookies for santa, and carrots for the reindeer. i just love how excited they get for this!

once the kiddos were all tucked in and sound asleep, the adults stayed up and had game night. we played one of our favorite card games well into christmas morning.

we went to bed with everything prepared for the next morning, with plenty of gifts under the tree. we were going to have some very happy kids in the morning.

i swear i’m only a morning person on christmas, and apparently our kids are too, because they sure were bright-eyed and ready to go super early.

family stayed over the night before so as soon as everyone was awake and ready to go, we all sat around the living room and started with our stockings. probably an unpopular opinion, but stockings are one of my favorite parts about christmas.

our family probably does it a little different than most, but we then went around one -by- one and each opened a gift, starting with the youngest first. i love that we do it that way just so we can see everyone open what they got, especially the kids.

we spent a good two hours opening gifts, laughing, and enjoying the looks on the kid’s faces when they got something that they really wanted. the aftermath of gifts and wrapping paper in our living room was no joke.

before everyone left, we made some cinnamon rolls for breakfast and enjoyed the rest of christmas morning together.

christmas 2019, was one for the books and without a doubt my favorite one thus far. i loved spending all the time with family and making memories that we’ll cherish forever.

from our family to yours, we hope you had a very merry christmas a wishing you all a wonderful new year!

stocking stuffer ideas for kids.

a sock full of the most random goodies? growing up, stockings were always one of my favorite parts of christmas. you truly never knew what mom, uh santa, was going to toss in there.

when considering stocking stuffers, it is easy to go with the basics. there’s just so many things to choose from these days, but i also like to keep it fun and throw in a few things that the kids won’t expect.

here is a list of fun list of stocking stuffers that your kids and teenagers will love; some of the basics mixed with some non-traditional items!

nail polish

bath bombs

chapstick

face masks

fun socks

flashcards

candy (duh)!

gum

toothbrush

rainbow scratch art

slime

hot wheels

color bath dropz

card games

brush set

puzzles

scrunchies

mad libs

legos

playdoh

i’ve linked a few of the items that can be found on amazon. let me know if you pick up any of these goodies for your kiddos!

#famjams: matching holiday pajamas for the family.

i’m all about making this christmas the best one thus far for our family; starting new traditions and keeping up with the old.

i’ve always pictured waking up christmas morning and having the entire family in matching holiday pajamas. i’m a sucker for those festive, picturesque holiday photos all nestled under the tree opening christmas presents.

this year, i wanted to find matching ones for all six of us, as challenging as it would be to find some in all of our sizes.

shopping during black friday this year, i had “matching pajamas’ near the top of my shopping list. unfortunately, finding six pairs that were all the same was a lot more difficult than i had anticipated and had no luck.

later that day, just when i had given up looking in store and decided to just find some online during cyber monday, the girls and i were walking through meijer grabbing some grocery items and we stumbled upon the motherload.

piles upon piles of matching holiday pajamas, but as soon as i saw the sets with buffalo plaid, i was sold. the girls and i rustled through the pile and found some in each of our sizes and threw them in the cart. the best part is that they were all 50% off!

i’d be happy to share a link of the sets that we got with all of you, but unfortunately, i don’t believe they are sold online. but feel free to check out meijer’s holiday items here.

will you and your family be wearing matching holiday pajamas this year?

a christmas cookie tradition.

christmas traditions are my absolute favorite; especially doing the traditions that i remember doing with my family growing up and now being able to do them with my own family.

ever since i can remember, my mom, sister and i would get together and spend a day before christmas baking copious amounts of cookies. we’d make a game plan of the ones we wanted to make each year, either from recipe books or our favorite family recipes passed down to us.

this year was no different, but rather than doing it at my parent’s house, we did it at ours. lot’s more counter space and much easier with the kids if they wanted to run around and play.

before all the “hard work” we set up a bloody mary bar; perfect drink for the morning and to enjoy while we got to baking.

we were absolutely that family that bought matching christmas pajamas to wear for christmas, but decided to throw them on for cookie baking too…festive and fun!

we scored these on black friday from meijer, surprisingly. they’re super comfy and had all of our sizes. and i’m always a sucker for that buffalo plaid pattern!

grandma always takes the reins on making the dough for the sugar cookies. they’re not the easiest to make, but the girls sure love making and decorating them ever year.

we made quite a few different kinds this year…peanut butter blossoms, sugar cookies, mounds, puppy chow, chocolate covered pretzels, no bakes, and butterscotch no bakes. we sorted them all into tins to share with friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors.

it was even a great day for football as the bears played the packers, so after all the baking was done we relaxed a bit and watched the game together.

this time of the year is my favorite; i love all the extra time we get to spend with our families.

what are some of your favorite holiday traditions that you do with your family?

recipe: cream cheese white chicken chili.

need a simple, chili recipe that pairs perfectly with football sundays?

my family has an amazing white chicken chili recipe that they’ve made for years; it’s hearty and delicious. this weekend i was in the mood for some chili and decided to take the old recipe, tweak it a bit, and make it more my own.

it turned out so yummy and i think will definitely be a repeat in our home. the best part…it’s all made in the crockpot!

wanna try it? i’ll share the recipe down below and be sure to let me know what you think if you give it a try.

ingredients:

  • 1 15-oz. can of black beans
  • 1 package ranch dressing mix
  • 1 15.25-oz. can of corn (i prefer sweet corn)
  • 1 10-oz. can of rotel tomatoes (diced, with green chilies)
  • 1 lb of skinless, boneless chicken breast
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 8-oz package cream cheese
  • 1 cup of water

instructions:

  1. place the chicken at the bottom of the crockpot. i seasoned the chicken with a bit of salt and pepper; completely optional.
  2. drain and rinse the can of black beans before pouring it over the chicken, then top with the entire two cans of corn and rotel tomatoes. do not drain either of these. the juice from these help provide some of the flavor.
  3. top with the remaining seasonings and the packet of ranch dressing mix. add a cup of water and then stir together.
  4. lastly, add the cream cheese block right on top, close the lid, and let it cook on low for roughly 6 hours.
  5. once those 6 hours are up, remove the chicken and shred, then place back in the crockpot and stir.
  6. before serving, i added some sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese on top and loved it. i’d recommend, but only if you desire.

hope you try it out and enjoy this simple chili recipe!

our home for the holidays.

christmas time is easily my favorite time of the year. some of my fondest memories growing up are helping my parents put up our christmas tree and decorating our home for the holidays. now it’s an extra special time because i get to share on those traditions with my own family in our home.

if you’re anything like me, i can hardly wait until thanksgiving to prepare our home for the holidays. this year was no exception; we put up what we had before thanksgiving and then scored some great deals on black friday to make our home a little more “merrier.”

i wanted to share a few photos with all of you of how we bring the christmas cheer to our home:

we’re that family and have zero shame about it – we have multiple trees within our house. we found a great deal at michael’s on black friday for a white tree, so we brought our tree that is decked out in all our family ornament’s downstairs. the family spends a lot of time downstairs, so it’s always nice to have some holiday spirit down there as well.

i totally became that “pinterest mom”; once i saw a white tree decorated with buffalo plaid while scrolling one day, i wanted to try and recreate it. this tree sits upstairs in our main living area and is a perfect accent nestled in between the windows.

we ordered a mantle for our fireplace, but while waiting for it to get here, we had to get creative as to where to hang our stockings in the meantime. we picked up some garland and decided to hang them from our railing. we put our six up, and are considering just using the mantle to hang the two dog’s stockings once we get that up just because we liked how it turned out so much.

lastly, we had to keep our tradition going with our annual gingerbread house decorating. this past weekend the grandparents came over and we decorated some along with making a few ornaments. i love seeing their little pieces of holiday “artwork” sprinkled throughout the house.

SEEING IS BELIEVING, BUT SOMETIMES THE MOST REAL THINGS IN THE WORLD ARE THE THINGS WE CAN’T SEE.

~The Polar Express

having our home all decked out for the holiday season really puts a smile on my face. i know it may be a little crazy to go all-out before it’s even december, but if holiday cheer is wrong i don’t want to be right!